PHOTO BY JOHN SOMMER/ISTOCK
If you suffer from an itchy scalp, you’re not alone. Our delicate scalps become itchy and irritated for a huge variety of reasons, making this issue extremely common. But that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with.
An itchy scalp is uncomfortable and sometimes even painful, since persistent scratching causes your skin to become red and irritated. And to make things worse, scratching can also create micro-abrasions on the scalp that lead to further inflammation.
To fight an itchy scalp, you first need to pinpoint the cause. Your scalp might be too dry, but on the other hand, it might be producing too much oil. You could also have a scalp condition, like psoriasis or seborrheic dermatitis. Or you might simply be having an allergic reaction to one of your hair products.
Whatever the issue, there are ingredients that can help. Look for these 14 ingredients in your shampoo, co-wash, or conditioner to get rid of itchiness once and for all.
Apple Cider Vinegar
ACV has both antibacterial and antifungal properties, making it effective against scalp conditions like dandruff or seborrheic dermatitis. As an astringent, it thoroughly cleanses the scalp and removes build-up without stripping moisture away. ACV also has the added benefit of balancing the pH level of the scalp.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is another powerful antibacterial and antifungal ingredient. Since this is an essential oil, it doesn’t take much to be effective, and it relieves itchiness while also fighting the infections that cause itchiness in the first place. When used in the right ratio, tea tree oil is moisturizing instead of drying.
Is there anything that coconut oil can’t do?! This popular oil is perhaps most well-known for its moisturizing properties, but coconut oil is also a natural antifungal and antimicrobial. In fact, it’s so effective that people use it to prevent and treat infections. If your itchiness is due to a dry scalp, you’re in extra luck – coconut oil is excellent for maintaining moisture.
Peppermint oil is extremely effective at combating itchiness, making it a go-to ingredient for when you need immediate relief. This oil naturally soothes inflammation, but its effects are more than just surface-level. It’s also a natural antibacterial and antifungal.
Neem is a powerful antimicrobial ingredient that’s been used for centuries. It clears infections that cause an itchy scalp, which leads to eventual relief.
For some gentle anti-itch action, look for products with honey. Honey helps to alleviate dandruff and other scalp conditions due to its antibacterial and antifungal properties. At the same time, it heals the redness and scratches caused by your frequent scratching. It’s also excellent for balancing moisture and locking that moisture in all day long.
No, not the delicious food. Plantain is also the name for an unrelated herb, which is traditionally used to combat dandruff and flaky scalp. Plantain is an antiseptic and antibacterial ingredient, so it fights the underlying infection that causes itchiness. It’s one of the main ingredients in a popular anti-itch shampoo, SheaMoisture African Black Soap Deep Cleansing Shampoo.
If you’re looking for a gentle herbal solution to itchy scalp, look for rosemary essential oil or extract. It’s effective against both dandruff and dry scalp, in addition to helping to relieve the itchiness from these conditions.
Eucalyptus oil is useful for more than just its calming floral scent. It’s also antimicrobial and antifungal, so it helps to prevent the growth of the bacteria and fungus that cause itchiness. This makes it an excellent natural remedy for dandruff and itchy scalp.
Chamomile tea is famous for its ability to soothe and relax the body, but this popular herb also soothes your skin. Chamomile essential oil reduces itching caused by dandruff, dry skin, or even eczema, providing much-needed relief.
If you experience itchiness due to a chronic scalp condition, you’ll likely need to reach for something a bit stronger. One option is salicylic acid, an ingredient that’s commonly used for scalp conditions, dry skin, and acne because of its ability to shed dead skin cells. It dissolves all the gunk and combats dryness at the same time.
If you have itchiness caused by dandruff or seborrheic dermatitis, try a shampoo with pyrithione zinc. This popular ingredient is found in many over-the-counter dandruff shampoos, like Head & Shoulders, and it works by reducing the level of histamine on your scalp, which contributes to itchiness. Since these shampoos are basically antihistamines, they’re also effective against scalp itchiness caused by skin allergies. The amount of zinc in each shampoo varies, and too much pyrithione zinc can be drying, so you may have to experiment to see which amount works for you.
Selenium sulfide is found in many anti-dandruff shampoos, such as Selsun Blue. It fights dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis by slowing down the growth of yeast on the scalp while also treating infections. Like most dandruff shampoos, selenium sulfide can be drying, so you may want to alternate with a more gentle cleanser.
Another common ingredient found in over-the-counter dandruff shampoo is coal tar, which is extremely effective against seborrheic dermatitis and psoriasis. Coal tar reduces inflammation and itching, and it also gets rid of scales and crust. Moreover, it slows the growth of bacteria, which keeps the itchiness at bay for a few days. On the other hand, coal tar doesn’t smell that great, and it makes your skin more sensitive to sunlight.
If you’d like to go the DIY route to combat dryness and itchiness, try these at-home remedies.
Have you tried any products with the above ingredients? Which ones are your favorite? Let us know in the comments!