Itchy scalp: Types, Symptoms, Causes, Treatments

Itchy scalp is a very bothersome and an uncomfortable condition. Some causes are commonly known and easy to cure or prevent them; whereas some causes maybe acute requiring treatment. These scalp conditions may affect anyone at any age. From a new borne to aged, all are prone. One of the reasons for it may be due to excessive use of hair products that are available in the market. The chemicals present in them make our scalp dry and irritating causing a niggling itch. Of course there could be other possibilities like unhygienic conditions, allergic reaction or intolerance towards a certain chemical, Seborrheic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, folliculitis, etc.

Seborrheic dermatitis

The cause for this disease is the existence of a species of the Malassezia furfur yeast called M. globosa. They thrive on that area of the body where sebum (skin oil) is in good quantity, thus scalp is their main target. Its symptoms are inflammatory skin with flaky white or yellow skin. The treatment usually includes scrubbing and cleaning the area thoroughly with shampoo. Coal tar and ketoconazole are also important ingredient which are used in cleaning. Loosening the scales with the fingers also help in getting rid of them.  This disease when they occur in infants they are called cradle cap. Seborrheic dermatitis is not contagious, nor is it an allergy and it is also known as Dandruff.

Itchy scalp

Contact dermatitis

Contact dermatitis, whether allergic or irritant, causing inflammation of the skin due to contact with any foreign material.  The immune system reacts to this material which may be in the form of food, perfume, cosmetic, antibiotic, etc. The symptoms include itching, redness, rashes, local swelling, and blisters. The first step for treatment is to remove the irritant from the affected part by washing it with lots of water, then to keep the area clean and to avoid scratching. The non-complicated dermatitis often disappears on their own just by following some self care remedies. For more serious cases a doctor’s advice may be necessary.

Folliculitis

Bacteria Staphylococcus infects the hair follicle causing inflammation which leads to an infection known as Folliculitis. This uncomfortable infection may cause permanent hair loss and scarring in severe cases. Barber’s itch and hot tub Folliculiti are the other varieties. The symptoms are pimples on each of the follicles of the infected area, associated with burning and itching sensations. Usually these pimples are filled with pus or blood. Medicated shampoo and hot compression are a few home remedies in mild cases. Treatment for severe cases may include oral or topical antibiotics or sometimes both. It should be noted that Folliculitis may reappear though it is not contagious.

Head lice

These blood sucking insects are wingless and their natural habitat is a human head. Children are extremely prone to them. As they are contagious they also spread to the adults of the family. Their symptoms are itching and scratching. The scalp is also their breeding ground and they lay millions of eggs on the hair shaft. Self care steps are the best method to remove them and prevent a reoccurrence.  Shampooing with a medicated shampoo, keeping personal clothes and towels separately, maintaining complete body hygiene, washing clothes in hot water are just some ways to keep these parasites at bay.

Itchy scalp

Psoriasis

The problem of the immune system that gives out wrong signals to the skin cells to rejuvenate itself at a faster speed. As a result the skin layers at the bottom start to rise above overlapping each other, causing silvery scales. This is called Psoriasis or cell turnover. The symptoms are red skin with silver scales, soreness, dry patches and itching. They may at first look like dandruff on the scalp. These are painful and cannot be cured completely. The symptoms may reappear, prevention can only be taken. These can affect other parts of the body as well. Apart from topical treatment of creams and ointments, light therapy and medicine are also necessary.

There are many other diseases that cause the scalp to itch like shingles, chicken pox, alopecia (hair loss), tinea capitis (scalp ringworm), etc. when the disease is not acute then natural and organic products are the best way to treat an itchy scalp. Using chemical laden products may only help in aggravating the illness. For example massaging the scalp helps improving the blood circulation and in turn the scale produces natural oil that prevents dryness and itchiness. Essential oils and herbal extracts are the other options available. Like tree tea oil or lemon juice or apple cedar vinegar could be used to treat dandruff. A note of caution is that in case if the problems persist then consulting a doctor is best.

As prevention is always better than cure- dinking lots of water and maintaining a proper diet should be enough to prevent any form of disease from attacking us.

 

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