Although a dry, itchy scalp results from numerous factors, the most common causes are contact dermatitis, seborrhea dermatitis, head lice and dry skin. Your solution may lie in a trial and error approach, by eliminating the potential factors to determine which are not causing a dry, itchy scalp. Then you can isolate the appropriate course of action.
Identifying the Source
Allergic contact dermatitis, or allergic contact eczema, occurs when the scalp is exposed to something that the immune system doesn't like. The itchy, weepy, red reaction can be caused by preservatives, fragrances or other substances in hair care products or by contact with allergens like poison ivy. If switching to natural products doesn't help your dry, itchy scalp and you haven't recently come into contact with known allergens, then you can probably eliminate contact dermatitis as your offender.
Seborrhea dermatitis, the most common itchy scalp culprit, is an inflammatory form of eczema of unknown cause. Often, it manifests on the scalp as excessive localized patches of thick, scaly flakes known as dandruff. Switching hair care product brands, increasing moisturizers and altering hair care routines do not affect dandruff. However, one effective solution is the use of shampoos specially formulated for dandruff. Well-known over-the-counter products, such as Head & Shoulders, Selsun Blue and Nizoral, calm a dry itchy scalp. If these don't alleviate your dandruff, then consult a physician.
The easiest culprit to rule out is head lice. These tiny parasites cavort around the scalp and hair shafts, chewing on skin and laying eggs all over the place. Typically, lice is more common among children. The good news is that although troublesome, lice are easy to kill by treating the hair and scalp with over-the-counter shampoos formulated just for this purpose. Your environment will also have to be aggressively treated to avoid future re-infestation.
Once you've ruled out head lice, contact dermatitis and seborrhea dermatitis as the causes of your itchy scalp, it's time to consider that common dry skin is probably your adversary. Dry scalp skin and the accompanying annoying itch is more common when the humidity is low during the winter. Aging also may be a contributing factor, since dry skin occurs more with age's natural changes. Some people develop dry skin due to hereditary tendencies and one's overall health. Whatever the cause, dry itchy skin sufferers do need to effectively treat the condition for the sake of their own comfort and to prevent it from leading to more serious inflammations.
The healthiest things for a dry, itchy scalp and hair care in general are those provided by nature. Free of preservatives, chemicals and artificial ingredients, natural cures and treatments offer the bonus of being thrifty alternatives to commercial preparations, most of which are expensive.
Refresh and relieve your dry, itchy scalp anytime by combining equal parts of naturally cooling witch hazel with room temperature distilled water. Pour it over your scalp and massage it in gently but thoroughly. Blot up or squeeze out the excess and go relax for 15 minutes before rinsing with cool or tepid water. Pat your hair and scalp dry with a soft, thick towel.
Create a restorative moisturizing treatment to use following shampooing. Boil 2 c. of distilled water. Remove from the heat and stir in ½ c. of rolled oats. Let them soak for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally as the mixture cools. Strain the fluid through a coffee filter into a cup or jar, and stir in 10 drops each of lavender and rosemary essential oils. Cool it to room temperature. Dab the liquid liberally onto scalp and hair, massaging gently. Let it set for 15 minutes, rinse with cool or tepid water, and gently pat dry. You can also substitute this treatment for shampooing, as the oatmeal cleanses, soothes, moisturizes and heals naturally without the need for lather.
Don't be afraid to experiment with the oatmeal scalp treatment. Feel free to substitute other essential oils that you may prefer to the rosemary, but keep the lavender in your recipes. Lavender relieves itchiness gently and naturally. Other natural moisturizing oils that help relieve dry, itchy scalp include chamomile, clary sage, jojoba, lemon, myrrh, patchouli, peppermint, rose and ylang-ylang.
Other Dry Itchy Scalp Care Tips
Dry scalp skin will also benefit from a few other simple things that you can incorporate into your hair and scalp care routines: Stop using hot water when washing and rinsing your hair. Heat promotes the drying of skin, scalp and hair.
Try not to use blow dryers, hot rollers and curling irons more than absolutely necessary.
Avoid swimming in chlorinated water.
Don't dry the hair and scalp by rubbing, which only aggravates dry itchy skin.
Do your best not to scratch your dry itchy scalp, which could lead to inflammation and the formation of open sores.
Pat your hair dry after swimming or showering to allow the natural oils to quickly return to your hair and scalp. Distribute these oils over the entire scalp by regularly brushing your hair with clean brushes.
Read product labels when shopping, and steer clear of hair care products that contain alcohol, preservatives and artificial anything, particularly fragrance. When preparing your own natural hair and scalp care products, use distilled water. It contains none of the impurities present in ordinary tap water.