What Causes an Itchy Scalp with Hair Loss and How Do I Treat It?

Overview

Itchy scalp, commonly known as scalp pruritus, is a very common ailment. It can be caused by a variety of circumstances and be a sign of a more serious medical problem.

Itching may be accompanied by flakiness, scaly patches, lumps, and even hair loss in rare cases. Hair loss can occur if the scratching is excessive or if the scalp disease affects the structure or strength of the hair follicles. Hair normally regrows when the underlying scalp problem is addressed.

What causes itchy scalp and hair loss?

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, it’s typical to lose 50 to 100 hairs every day if you have an itchy scalp. However, irritation on the scalp that is considerable or frequent, crusty spots on the scalp, or excessive hair loss may be cause for worry. The following are some of the most prevalent reasons for itchy scalp and hair loss.

Dandruff

It is often assumed that dandruff is caused by hyperactive oil glands on the scalp. This is why dandruff doesn’t normally appear until the adolescent years when a surge of hormones increases the skin’s oil production.

Some scientists believe that dandruff (also known as seborrhea) is caused by a yeast infection of the scalp and hair follicles. Yeast, in addition to inflaming the scalp and causing itching, can damage the hair root and cause hair loss. However, dandruff-related hair loss is uncommon. It only happens when the dandruff is severe and untreated for an extended length of time.

Psoriasis

According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, around 50% of psoriasis patients develop scalp psoriasis. This condition may result in:

  • silvery, dry scales on the scalp
  • inflamed scalp
  • hair loss that results from excessive scratching or pulling the scales off

Alopecia Areata 

Alopecia areata can cause tufts of hair to fall out in addition to itching and tingling on the scalp. This can result in circular bald patches. It is considered that the illness develops when the immune system destroys healthy hair follicles. It is more common in those with a family history of autoimmune disorders such as type 1 diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis.

Tinea capitis

Tinea capitis, often known as ringworm of the scalp, is a fungal infection that penetrates deep into the hair shaft, causing itching and hair loss. The hair may break off at the scalp’s surface or slightly above, depending on the kind of fungus responsible for the illness, leaving hair stubs.

The virus is very infectious, primarily affects young children, and can be accompanied by:

  • a raised, dry, scaly rash
  • black, bumpy dots on the scalp

Allergic reactions

Allergic reactions to hair colors, for example, can result in an irritated, itchy scalp and hair loss in extreme situations. According to one study published in ISRN Dermatology, up to 1% of the patients were sensitive to paraphenylenediamine (PPD), a common component used in hair colors. In sensitive individuals, PPD can cause significant hair loss. Inflammation and irritation around insect bites can sometimes occur on the scalp, mimicking a rash or allergy.

Folliculitis

Folliculitis is an infection that affects the hair follicles. Staph bacteria or fungus are typically at blame. It can appear on your skin everywhere hair develops, including your scalp. Folliculitis that affects the scalp can cause temporary hair loss in addition to generating tiny, itchy bumps on the skin. Hair normally grows back with appropriate care. In rare situations, the disorder might result in permanent hair loss.

Lichen planopilaris

Lichen planopilaris is an inflammatory scalp ailment that is considered to be caused by a compromised immune system. It is more common in young adult women and can result in areas of hair loss as well as scalp:

  • scaling
  • redness
  • burning
  • bumps
  • blisters

If hair follicles are irreparably damaged, hair loss might be irreversible.

Treatments for an itchy scalp and hair loss

Treatment options differ based on the source of the itching and hair loss. Your doctor may advise you to:

  • steroids (taken orally or applied to the scalp via cream or injection) to reduce inflammation
  • antifungals (applied topically or orally) to combat yeast
  • immunotherapy medication to turn the immune response on or off

Common therapies to treat hair loss include:

  • minoxidil (Rogaine) to slow hair loss and regrow new hair
  • finasteride (Propecia) to treat inherited baldness
  • hair transplantation

Natural and at-home remedies for itchy scalp and hair loss

Not every irritated scalp with hair loss requires medical attention. Here are some things you can do on your own to keep your scalp and hair healthy.

Eat a healthy diet

Important nutrients for hair and scalp health include:

  • iron
  • zinc
  • niacin
  • selenium
  • vitamins A, D, and E
  • biotin
  • amino acids
  • protein

One caveat: Only take these minerals as supplements if you know you’re deficient. There is no strong scientific proof that these supplements prevent hair loss if you already have appropriate levels in your body, according to a study published in Dermatology Practical and ConceptualTrusted Source. Furthermore, over-supplementation might result in hair loss.

Use targeted shampoos

To treat yeast, use a shampoo containing selenium or zinc if you have dandruff.

Consider using essential oils.

Although there isn’t many scientific data, animal studies have suggested that utilizing essential oils like rosemary and peppermint can reduce hair loss and encourage new hair development. Before applying essential oils to the scalp, they must be diluted with a carrier oil.

Now is the time to try peppermint or rosemary oil diluted with a carrier oil.

Enjoy a scalp massage

According to research published in EplastyTrusted Source, scalp massage can enhance hair thickness by boosting blood flow or activating hair cells.

Treat hair gently

To reduce hair loss:

  • do not scratch excessively
  • Avoid wearing your hair in a tight ponytail and exposing your scalp and hair to excessive heat and styling products.
  • Wash your hair gently with a light shampoo and air dry, at least until you figure out what’s causing your scalp to itch. Itching and loss of hair

Hair loss prevention due to itchy scalp

Some skin diseases that cause itching and hair loss are uncontrollable. However, detecting and treating the disease as soon as possible — with specific shampoos, dietary modifications, or a visit to a dermatologist — is critical to effective therapy and preventing hair loss.

When should you see a doctor?

The following symptoms indicate that you should seek medical attention for your itchy scalp and any subsequent hair loss:

  • Itching that is so bad that it interferes with your daily activities or disrupts your sleep
  • burnt or irritated scalp
  • your scalp has crusty areas
  • bald patches, clumps of hair falling out, or sudden hair thinning

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