Keep reading to learn what causes a dry itchy scalp, as well as our picks for the best dry scalp treatments. Plus, we'll tell you if your itching scalp is caused by dandruff or dry scalp.
What is an Itching Scalp?
Your scalp is skin, so it can become itchy just like the rest of your skin! A lot of the same factors that cause itchy skin on your body can contribute to a dry itchy scalp: seasonal changes, diet, allergies, etc. However, an itching scalp can have some other special causes that pertain only to the scalp area (more on those later).
What are the Symptoms of a Dry Itchy Scalp?
The biggest symptom of a dry scalp is itching! If you often find yourself scratching your scalp, you may have a dry scalp. Some people with an itching scalp have even reported scratching their scalps in their sleep! Another major symptom of dry scalp is falling flakes, which is why this condition is often confused with dandruff.
Why Do I Have a Dry Itchy Scalp?
An itching scalp happens when your scalp’s natural balance of moisture becomes disrupted. An itchy scalp can have many causes, including:
- Age. As we get older, our skin produces less natural oils and becomes drier.
- Hormonal changes. Similarly, hormonal changes (such as menopause) can make skin drier and more prone to itchiness.
- Stress. Stress causes inflammation, which can also lead to an itching scalp. Stress can also trigger your itch receptors, even if there is nothing wrong with your skin! To reduce stress, try meditation, yoga, or journaling.
- Genetics. If either (or both) of your parents have dry skin, you’re more likely to have dry skin as well.
- Changes in temperature or seasons. This is the most common cause of dry scalp in the winter. Moving between temperature extremes (like frigid air outside and warm air inside) can dry out your skin.
- Poor diet. If you’re not eating the right mix of nutrients, an itching scalp could be the result.
- Smoking. Smoking causes inflammation and dries out the skin, which can lead to a dry scalp.
- Air pollution. Air pollution also causes inflammation, leaving your scalp itchy and dry.
- Allergies and irritation. Your itchiness could be caused by an allergy to something you’re eating or an ingredient in your hair products. Some common ingredients in hair products are also irritating for skin and can cause a dry itchy scalp.
When to Be Worried About an Itching Scalp
So how do you know if you just have a dry scalp, or if your itching scalp is a sign of something more serious?
If your scalp is so itchy that you are developing sores from the scratches, it’s time to make an appointment with your GP.
Other signs that you should see a doctor include if you’re noticing dry, scaly patches. These are signs that you have an underlying issue like dandruff, eczema, or psoriasis.
Dandruff vs Dry Scalp: What’s the Difference?
Let’s talk more about dandruff, which is commonly confused with having a dry scalp. How can you tell if your itching scalp is caused by dandruff vs dry scalp? Here’s how to tell the difference:
- Dandruff vs Dry Scalp Difference #1: Dry scalp is caused by a lack of sebum on the scalp, whereas dandruff is caused by too much sebum. This type of dandruff is caused by seborrheic dermatitis. Other signs of seborrheic dermatitis include oily, red, scaly skin.
- Dandruff vs Dry Scalp Difference #2: Dandruff is often triggered by a fungal infection, whereas dry scalp is triggered more by environmental and lifestyle factors.
- Dandruff vs Dry Scalp Difference #3: Dandruff flakes are bigger than dry scalp flakes. Additionally, dandruff flakes are often oily and yellow in appearance, whereas dry scalp flakes are usually dry and white.
If you think you may have dandruff, you can usually treat it at home by using a dandruff shampoo.
Dry Scalp Treatments: Ingredients to Look For
If you do have a dry scalp, what is the best dry scalp treatment? The best dry scalp treatment should include one or more of these scalp-loving ingredients:
Aloe vera extract is proven to help reduce skin inflammation thanks to its soothing enzymes, carbohydrates, and plant sterols.
Theobroma Cacao Seed Butter
Theobroma cacao seed butter, also known as cocoa butter, is another one of the best dry scalp treatments. Cocoa butter is rich in fatty acids, which hydrate dry scalps. Plus, cocoa butter creates a protective barrier that holds in moisture to prevent an itching scalp from reoccurring.
Olea Europaea Fruit Oil
Like cocoa butter, olea europaea fruit oil (otherwise known as olive fruit oil), has powerful moisturising effects. Olive fruit oil is naturally rich in vitamins A and E plus hydroxytyrosol, all of which soothe inflammation.
If you’ve ever had chickenpox, you are probably already familiar with colloidal oatmeal’s skin-soothing properties. Just as colloidal oatmeal relieves itching for chickenpox patients, it also soothes an itching scalp.
Thanks to its rich content of antioxidants, plant sterols, vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids, acai is considered to be a superfood. When applied to an itching scalp, acai extract provides healing and repairing. Acai extract also helps to protect an itching scalp against further irritation.
Blueberry extract has strong anti-inflammatory and moisturising properties, which is why it’s another one of the best dry scalp treatments.
9 Healthy Scalp Habits You Should Practice
Whether you are looking to soothe a dry itchy scalp or prevent an itching scalp from happening in the first place, these scalp care habits will ensure a healthy, moisturised scalp.
1. Hydrate Your Scalp
First things first, treat your scalp with our Scalp Follicle Treatment & Volumizer! This scalp-renewing treatment uses natural Scandinavian ingredients to soothe and nourish an itching scalp. Its ingredients include aloe leaf juice and olive oil extract, which you already know are two of the best dry scalp treatments! For best results, use one to three times per week.
2. Use Less Irritating Shampoos
Shampoos with sulfates may lather well, but they can also irritate your skin. If you have an itching scalp, consider switching to a moisturising, sulfate-free shampoo like Hair Growth & Repair Shampoo. Not only will this nourishing shampoo improve the condition of your scalp, but it will also help to strengthen your hair with vegan micro-proteins. Hint: we also have a formula for men!