Dry and itchy scalp – Symptoms, causes and solutions

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A dry and itchy scalp is embarrassing, irritating and can often cause discomfort. Many people experience skin irregularities on their scalp, and there are various causes – both internal and external. Understanding the causes and the knowing about the solutions is the first step towards improving and stabilising skin conditions.

What Is It?

What is a dry and itchy scalp?

If the itchiness causes you to scratch, your scalp may become inflamed.

When your scalp’s natural moisture balance is disturbed, an itchy, dry scalp can be the result. A dry and itchy scalp can be associated with ageing or skin conditions such as Atopic Dermatitis or Psoriasis, and its symptoms can range from very mild to extreme.

Major Causes

Major causes of a dry and itchy scalp

1. Moisture is lost, causing dryness 2. Microinflammations cause further irritation 3. Scalp becomes itchy

Internal factors that can cause a dry and itchy scalp include:

  • Skin conditions such as Atopic Dermatitis or Psoriasis
  • Age – the older you get, the dryer your skin becomes
  • Physical or emotional stress
  • Genetic factors
  • Hormonal changes

External factors that can cause a dry, itchy scalp include:

  • Changes in temperature or seasons
  • Lifestyle factors, such as poor diet or smoking
  • Certain medications
  • Environmental pollution
  • Cosmetic shampoos, soaps and hair treatments

Once your scalp’s natural moisture is lost, its protective layer can become compromised. This can allow harmful substances to easily penetrate the skin, leading to microinflammations of the scalp. These microinflammations can cause your scalp to become even more irritated – leading to itching, redness, and a sensation of tautness.

Microinfoammations and your scalp

What are microinflammations? They’re mild inflammations of the skin. They’re so mild, in fact, that even clinical testing won’t pick them up. But if we study skin tissue encountering  microinflammations, we can detect the presence of inflammatory immune cells – in other words, the skin is responding to irritation with inflammation and thereby attempting to repair  itself. If these skin cells are then subjected to further irritation, the skin can flip into a “true” inflammatory response.

1. Healthy skin 2. Microinflammation 3. Inflammation (Erythem)

How are they related to scalp conditions? There’s growing evidence that microinflammations of the scalp are involved in most common scalp disorders – from thinning hair and dandruff, to scalp dryness, itchiness and sensitivity.

If you experience sudden hair loss or brittle hair, you may have an underlying health problem such as thyroid disease, iron deficiency, or an autoimmune disease. Some medications can also cause hair loss. Contact a dermatologist in all instances to get further information.

Common Myths

Natural remedies such as oils haven’t proven to be effective treatments for a dry and itchy scalp.

Vinegars, natural oils, and even athlete’s foot spray are among the remedies that have been claimed to treat an itchy and dry scalp. But there is no evidence to support these remedies.


Recommended solution

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Eucerin DermoCapillaire CALMING UREA SHAMPOO and Eucerin DermoCapillaire CALMING UREA SCALP TREATMENT have been proven to soothe and relieve scalp itching and dryness while giving your hair softness and a healthy shine. Learn more about the shampoo or scalp treatment.

Do you have a dry and itchy scalp?

You may have a dry and itchy scalp if…

You’re frequently scratching your scalp: Some people have even reported scratching in their sleep.

You’ve recently been exposed to one or more of the causes listed above: Especially if your symptoms developed soon afterwards.

You may have another scalp condition if…

You have white flakes or yellow scales on your scalp and hair: You may have dandruff or seborrhoeic dermatitis.

You have red, scaly, silvery-looking patches on your scalp: You may have Psoriasis.

Important Information

See your doctor or your dermatologist if you’re concerned, your symptoms are severe, or your scalp becomes inflamed, weepy or sore.

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