What Causes an Itchy Scalp?
There are a few different things that could be causing your itch. The first thing to remember is that your scalp is an extension of your skin, so many of the same concerns you deal with on your face and other body parts, like dry skin, can easily happen on the scalp as well.
Before trying any remedies, make sure your itching and flaking are in fact due to dryness and not dandruff. You’ll be able to visibly tell the difference this way: A dry scalp is just that, parched skin that can itch and flake off due to things like weather changes, sensitivities to new products, eczema, over-washing, and dietary changes.
Now, what about dandruff? Dandruff is an actual medical condition and will show up differently. You can actually think of it as the opposite. It’s a result of too much oil on the scalp. The excess oil leads to a buildup of skin cells that sheds in the form of flakes. Dandruff is typically persistent through any external switches to your routine, diet, or environment. Usually, but not always, both dry scalps and dandruff come with some type of inflammation, redness on the scalp, and in more severe cases, tenderness.
Dietary deficiencies like depriving your body of enough water or essential nutrients found in healthier foods could cause your skin and scalp to dry out. Cleansing too often or with products that strip your skin of its natural oils and even your stress levels are also potential contributing factors.
One of the more common mistakes many naturals make when dealing with flakes is assuming that applying hair moisturizers that are meant to address the hair strand and not the scalp will heal the dryness and stop the itching. While this may help a bit, the reality is, your body’s own natural oils are produced to help coat and lubricate your scalp. So, simply eating the right things paired with the proper lineup of natural hair products, ones that won’t interfere with your body’s natural function, should help get your scalp’s moisture levels back in balance.
What Are Natural Home Remedies for a Dry, Itchy Scalp?
Tackle your dry scalp in two parts: the itch and the flakes. The itching is often a result of inflammation, so ingredients that will help calm that flare-up can also help cut the itch. Here are three winning options that incorporate ingredients and products that you may already have on hand at home:
Itchy Scalp Remedy #1: Apple Cider Vinegar
Not only does it have anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and antibacterial properties, you can use apple cider vinegar (diluted with water) as a clarifying rinse to get rid of excess product buildup. The high acidity in ACV also works to keep dandruff-causing bacteria and fungus at bay. After cleansing with a sulfate-free shampoo, pour your mixture onto your scalp and massage it through for a few seconds before rinsing.
Itchy Scalp Remedy #2: Vitamin E
If your scalp’s moisture levels are out of whack, vitamin E, which you can find in the Coco Creme Creamy Conditioner, is an excellent choice for helping to balance and restore natural oil levels. Different factors like poor diets and going overboard with beauty techniques can throw things off and create either an over- or underproduction of oil.
You can get vitamin E through veggies like asparagus and broccoli or fresh fruits such as mangoes and papaya. A helping of almonds and wheat germ in your smoothies and cold cereals can also offer a healthy dose of the nutrient. If you can’t tell whether or not you’re getting enough through your food, try massaging pure vitamin E oil directly onto your scalp for three to five minutes once a week. It’ll help neutralize your scalp’s pH levels and improve overall circulation while heavily reducing dryness.
Itchy Scalp Remedy #3: Coconut Oil
Whether you have dry strands or a dry scalp, it’s no secret that coconut is one of the best home ingredients for a dry scalp, and it’s really an overall wonder treatment for natural hair. This hair oil can help restore moisture and is formulated with lauric acid, which has antimicrobial properties and helps the skin absorb coconut oil efficiently. So, you’re getting the itch-soothing treatment both on the surface of the scalp and beneath the skin. If you’ve been scratching a lot, coconut oil can also help cut down on the risk of infection. Use it as a pre-shampoo or whenever you feel itchy by massaging a small amount of food-grade coconut oil, preferably organic, directly onto the scalp. You’ll also find it in a ton of products, including the Monoi Lightweight Miracle Oil.
Can You Control an Itchy Scalp with Shampoo?
Here’s where the second part of your extremely itchy scalp treatment plan comes into play. The ingredients in your shampoo can not only control the itch, but they can cut out the flakes as well. To get rid of flaking, you’ll need something to exfoliate. Much like the skin on your face, a good scalp scrub or a cleanser with a chemical exfoliant like salicylic acid is effective. A product like the Wash Day Delight makes for a great itchy scalp shampoo as it not only has the salicylic acid to slough away flakes, but there’s also aloe leaf juice, which helps to soothe irritation and itching.
Another thing to look for to reduce the itch is extra moisturizers in your shampoo. You’ll need a good middle ground shampoo that isn’t too stripping nor too rich. Too much oil on the scalp can have the opposite effect and eventually lead to even more flaking. The Coco Creme Sulfate-Free Shampoo is ideal. It’s made to quench dryness, and it also has coconut oil in its formula, which, as we now know, is a major dry scalp soother.
How to Prevent an Itchy Scalp
Once you’ve gotten rid of the itch, try to focus your routine on keeping your scalp’s oil levels balanced. Incorporate a clarifying ACV rinse into your routine once a month or so and keep your scalp greased with a lightweight oil like the Goddess Strength 7 Oil Blend Scalp & Hair Oil With Castor Oil. You can massage it in before shampooing as a pre-wash treatment or work it through at the first signs of any scalp tightness. Keep an eye on your diet as well. If the rest of your skin feels dehydrated in any way, it may be time to up the amounts of water-heavy foods you eat. The moisture will make its way through your system and to your scalp.
If you’re still unsure about which oils are best for your specific hair type, here’s Your Guide to Hair Oils for Natural & Coily Hair.