Which Condition is Causing Your Itchy Scalp?

Dermatologists will tell you there are many reasons a scalp can be itchy, experience a rash or be inflamed. Many are related to skin allergies. Others are the result of an autoimmune disease. Insect bites from head lice are a common cause of irritation. Fungal, bacterial or viral infections can all also cause rashes and irritation. How do you determine which is vexing you?

Allergic reactions

Symptoms: Skin sensitivities on the scalp from certain fragrances, dyes or chemicals used in hair products is a common reason for an itchy, painful scalp. Hives or blisters can even appear if the products are repeatedly used. Certain chemicals for some people can irritate the skin and cause red, blotchy rashes. Itching and scratching can leave open sores and eventually bleed if not treated.

How to Treat: Determine if any new products or even cosmetics have been introduced that are causing the reaction. Sometimes just the presence in the air of a product can cause a harmful reaction.  Eliminate the use of this product immediately. Benadryl, Calamine lotion or Cortisone can be used to offer quick relief. Washing product out of hair and switching to fragrance-free or natural, hypoallergenic products may prevent further allergy flare-ups.


Symptoms: Dandruff is defined as small pieces of dead skin in a person’s hair. Overactive skin cells that reproduce much more quickly than average result in excessive amounts of dead skin flaking off and creating dandruff on hair strands, shoulders or the neck of the person affected. These dead skin cells will fall off easily when the head is scratched or shaken or the hair is ruffled. They are usually white in color and can be seen with the naked eye. It can cause dryness that results in an itchy scalp. Dandruff is sometimes even the result of hair product build up. Washing your hair thoroughly and making sure to wash out all remaining product with warm water will help with flaking from over product.  

How to Treat: Medicated dandruff shampoos are readily available for purchase at local grocery and drug stores. After a few days of use symptoms should start to fade. If the problem persists even with the use of medicated shampoos certain prescription-strength shampoos and medications can be offered by a physician. Genetically about half of the adult population are prone to dandruff. It is a common problem that is usually controllable.


Symptoms: Lice are parasites that live off of the human scalp. They bite the skin, lay their eggs on the scalp and burrow into hair follicles close to the head. Without the heat and humidity of a live scalp lice will quickly die. Because lice are no larger than a sesame seed, they can be quite difficult to spot. Their bite marks however are apparent as small, red bumps or irritations around the scalp. Feces and saliva traces can also cause irritations on the skin. Most apparent will be nits, or lice eggs laid at the base of the scalp. Yellow in color, these minute spherical eggs are stuck to hair strands with a tacky substance making them much more difficult to remove than dandruff.

How to Treat: Lice Clinics of America St. Charles is an ideal place to bring someone who you think may be dealing with lice. We offer head checks to distinguish between an actual case of lice or another problem. Our expert personnel can guide you through the best options for your case. We do offer the most innovative technology with the Airelle dehydration system. We also sell over the counter products that are safe and effective, depending on your budget and time frame.

Leave a Comment: