An itchy scalp is unpleasant, and can be embarrassing. We’ve decided, for the good of humanity and those leading meetings worldwide, to expose the five most common causes of an itchy scalp. Read on.
There is something living on your scalp. Its name is Pityrosporum ovule, and it has no legs. It is, in fact, yeast that exists on everyone’s skin. Unfortunately for some people, one can become hypersensitive to this yeast. Hypersensitivity to the natural skin yeast is called Seborrhoea, and it can cause an itchy scalp along with flaking.
In more extreme cases, large flakes can form (these can be either dry or greasy) and the skin can become red and inflamed. If this happens, you are likely suffering from something called Seborrhoeic dermatitis. You can treat it with special shampoos, and it is worth cutting down on your processed and fatty foods as these can increase the incidence of yeast on the scalp.
2. Head Lice
Everyone’s favourite, and known where I’m from as ‘nits’. The good news is that they don’t have wings. The average infestation is usually made up of 10 to 20 adult lice, and hundreds of eggs – for this reason, simply getting rid of the adults will not be enough. It is possible that, if left untreated, up to 5000 lice could hatch within three months.
The itching is caused when they feed – each lice feeds around five times per day on human blood. During the feeding they release a small amount of saliva, which some people are sensitive to. The itching is often worse at the back of the head and around the ears, and will get worse if the infestation goes untreated.
Treatments include a variety of foul smelling shampoos and powders all of which, no matter how stinky, are infinitely preferable to head lice themselves.
Psoriasis is different to most causes insofar as it is caused not by sensitivity to anything, but rather by your body overproducing skin cells. To some, this may sound like a good thing (even a minor, if not particularly useful, superpower).The downside of overproducing skin cells is that the new cells push to the surface to form a raised red area which is known as plaque.
Unfortunately, the nature of psoriasis means that if you suffer from it, you are also more likely to suffer from seborrhoea. There are differences; the scale size with seborrhoea is quite large, whereas psoriasis scales are much smaller, furthermore psoriasis doesn’t cause hair loss or nail changes.
Tragically, shampoo can cause an itchy scalp, implausible as it may sound. Many of today’s shampoos have a number of harsh chemicals in them. Human beings are fairly hardy creatures, but certain chemicals can have a strong affect, including itchy scalp. One of the ways in which this happens is that the chemical strip out the hairs natural oils, drying the scalp.
A dry scalp is an itchy scalp.
Sodium Laureth Sulphate is the name of the most common of these chemicals, though it is usually known as SLS. Watch out for it, as it is in around 90% of off-the-shelf shampoos and is found in the majority of soaps.
It sounds like a cop-out, we know. Stress has been attributed as a cause for all sorts of problems, from depression and anxiety to weight gain and hair loss. There are sound scientific reasons for stress being a cause of these things, primarily because an undue amount of stress does cause quite serious chemical changes within the body.
One these change is the drying of the scalp. Physical exhaustion and emotional tension can both cause excesses of stress which can bring on an itchy scalp – so if none of the above fits, yet you’re still clawing at your crown, step back and take an objective look at your life. If the stress is piled on, then your cause may be staring you in the face.
If scalp itchiness was an isolated thing that only happened to one or two people, we wouldn’t write about it. Unfortunately, it affects a lot of us – often with unpleasant results. We’d be very grateful if you would share any experiences you’ve had.