An itchy scalp is a common problem that most
commonly affects adults. There are a number of
causes of itchy scalp including;
Dandruff (Pityriasis capitis)
is a common condition caused by an excessive
shedding of the dead skin cells (keratinocytes)
of the scalp.
Ringworm (tinea capatis) is a
superficial fungal infection of the scalp.
It is caused by a microscopic group of
parasitic fungal organisms known as
dermatophytes (which means plants that live
on the skin).
is a burn to the skin & is a result of too
much exposure to the sunís harmful UV rays.
Head lice are small, wingless
parasites that live on & spend their entire
life cycle on the human scalp, feeding off
blood. They are most commonly found in
school aged children although can infest
anybody. Girls appear to get head lice more
often than boys.
is a chronic, recurring autoimmune disease
characterized by red, thickened patches on
the skin, often with silvery scales. It is
the result of overproduction of the skin
(seborrheic dermatitis) affects the
scalp. The infant form of seborrehic
dermatitis is known as cradle cap.
or neonatal seborrhoeic dermatitis) is a
very common condition that is most often
seen first three months of the baby's life.
dermatitis is an irritation to the area
that is caused by shampoos,
conditioners and other hair products.
Folliculitis is a common skin disorder caused by
an inflammation of the hair follicles that is
characterised by small, red, inflamed pimples on
The most common cause of folliculitis is
bacterial infection, usually Staphylococcus
aureus (staph). Fungal and
viral infections can also cause folliculitis,
but less commonly so.
Naturally, itching is a symptom, but depending
on the cause, other symptoms may also be present
Flaky, white skin in the hair and on
Areas of bald patches on the scalp.
Bald patches are accompanied by thickened,
scaly, reddened patches.
Small black dots on the scalp, consisting of
Some individuals develop an allergic
reaction to the fungus, developing kerions
(raised, spongy, swollen, pus filled
few days, hair may flake off.
You may see either head lice or nits in the
Mild scaling to thick, crusted plaques on
the scalp which may.
to yellow, oily patches of skin.
Other parts of the body such as the chest,
folds of the nose & eyebrows may also be
affected with seborrheic dermatitis.
Thickening of the skin.
Mild pain may also be present.
pull out easily from the affected follicles.
be present with some types of folliculitis.
Hair loss and scarring can occur as a result
of folliculitis. In some cases,
complications may arise, including
abscesses, furuncles, carbuncles and
suspect you have folliculitis, see your GP
for a diagnosis. There are other skin
disorders with very similar symptoms.
Treating an itchy scalp:
depends on the cause of scalp itchiness and may
& elimination of the irritant contact
dermatitis if known.
Corticosteroids to help relieve and control
head lice may include insecticide and/or
applying conditioner to the hair & combing
out using a nit comb.
shampoo/conditioner on your hair & avoid
using hair sprays/gel etc.
medication to treat ringworm.
shampoos - These contain an ingredient to
remove excess sebum & reduce irritation. The
active ingredients in these shampoos may
vary from brand to brand but most will
contain one of the following; salicylic
acid, tar, sulfur and propylene glycol.
After the shampoo has been applied &
lathered up, leave on the hair for
approximately 10 minutes before rinsing off.
cleansers or antibiotics to treat bacterial
infection such as folliculitis.