Itchy Scalp Conditions


This page was designed to provide an overview of some common Scalp Conditions that present as Itchy Scalp Conditions. It introduces the simple explanation of Itchy Scalp Conditions  and possible causes of the various Itchy Scalp Conditions and summarizes possible treatment options.

If you have a persistent Itchy Scalp Condition the best treatment will be achieved from a proper diagnosis with a Certified Trichologist.



Pruritus denotes itching and is a common complaint associated with Oily Hair and Scalp Scale Conditions.

Itchy scalp can be present on its own without Oily Hair or Scalp Scale Conditions.

Itchy Scalp may also be in combination with Scalp Inflammation.

It is thought that itch receptors are only found on the top two skin layers, the epidermis and the epidermal/dermal transition layers.

Itch can originate from the peripheral nervous system or in the central nervous system.

Pruritus and pain are similar sensations, as the same nerves transmit both signals to the brain.

When the scalp is scratched, that same area may become even itchier, leading to more scratching.

This is termed the 'Itch-Scratch Cycle'.

Itch can be related to a problem with the Scalp Skin or another underlying systemic body problem such as Diabetes or Iron deficient Anemia.

When itching is experienced only in a particular area of Scalp Skin, it usually is not caused by a systemic disease.

Itchy and Sensitive Scalps respond well to external treatment, however the internal cause, when present and addressed, will lead to long term relief and elimination of the Itchy Scalp or Sensitive Scalp.

Stress is a common associated cause of Itchy Scalp and can be addressed using pH testing and obtaining the Acid - Alkaline balance.

An Itchy Scalp left unchecked can lead to 'Lichenification' or hardening of the skin in the affected area from the continued scratching.

Common Scalp Conditions that have the symptom of Itchy Scalp include Psoriasis, Pediculosis Capititis (head lice), Seborrhea Dermatitis and Contact Dermatitis.


Sensitive Scalp, Scalp Burning and Scalp Tenderness 'Scalp Dysesthesia' are all associated with an Itchy Scalp and commonly have an internal cause.

The most common symptoms of a Sensitive Scalp are: feelings of tightness, itchiness, redness and inflamed patches on the scalp.

A sensitive scalp can cause distraction and discomfort and may be difficult to diagnose due to other existing or contributing Scalp Conditions and Hair Loss problems.

In most cases, the Sensitive Scalp Condition is reduced by combination therapy designed to treat other existing or contributing Scalp Conditions and Hair Loss Problems.

Sensitive Scalp is commonly associated with Oily Hair, Seborrhea Dermatitis, active Hair Loss associated with Alopecia Areata and Androgenic Alopecia experienced by women and men.

Sensitive Scalp reacts well to body pH balancing and stabilizing of the Scalp Skin Hydrolipidfilm.


Oil is a result from and is produced by the Sebaceous Glands attached to every hair follicle. Oily Hair is often misunderstood and is actually a Moist or Sweaty Scalp.

Sweat is the result of the sweat glands which are not connected to the hair follicle.

Sweat is made up of around 98% of water.

The remaining 2% is a combination of Ammonia, Sodium Chloride, Potassium Salts, Creatine, Urea, Amino Acids, Uric Acid, Uroanic Acid, Fatty Acids and Lactic Acids.

The substances that make up the 2% commonly irritate the scalp and cause an Itchy Scalp and limp, straggly, hard to manage hair.

These substances left on the scalp can damage the hair shaft leading to hair damage and cause imbalances to your hair cycle by disturbing the fine balance of the Hydrolipidfilm.

We all sweat, and this is normal, but over reaction of the sweat glands on the scalp needs to be addressed if this is affecting you.

Common causes of over active Scalp Sweat Glands include:

Emotional Sweating as a result of stress
pH Acid/Alkaline body imbalance
Irritant Sweating as a result of sensitivity to food, alcohol or spices (also related to body pH)
Medication induced sweating
Successful neutralization of the 2% of scalp nasties, balancing the scalp hydrolipidfilm and body pH balancing can stabilize and eliminate the scalp irritation and associated itching.


Lichen Simplex can also be referred to as Neurodermatitis and is a common Scalp Skin Condition.

Lichen Simplex is a type of Dermatitis and is the result of repeated rubbing or scratching.

The trigger to scratch may be unknown, possibly an insect bite, stress, or a nervous habit.

The resulting Itchy Scalp Skin if often located on the nape of the neck, but can be found anywhere on the scalp or body.

The affected skin is thickened, appearing as a group of small firm papules and the hairs may be broken-off from the constant scratching or rubbing.

The Scalp Skin colour may be darker or sometimes even paler than the surrounding skin.

Other characteristics of Lichen Simplex are reddened inflamed scalp and flaky white patchy scale.

Effective treatment to eliminate the Itchy Scalp can be successful if the scalp condition has not reached the point of habitual scratching or rubbing.


Acne Miliaris Necrotica is a form of Scalp Folliculitis and is an inflammatory disorder of the scalp hair follicles that is usually very itchy.

The condition is also known as ‘Proprionibacterium’ Folliculitis and is characterized by small, very itchy pustules on the scalp.

There may only be a few lesions or there may be many. The lesions are hard to leave alone because of the itch and they often become sore and crusted.

When the follicular spots (papules) become inflamed and develop crusts, permanent pox-like scars can result. Acne Miliaris Necrotica may also affect the face or other areas of the body.

The cause of scalp Folliculitis is not completely understood but is considered to be an inflammatory reaction to components of the hair follicle, particularly scalp micro-organisms including yeasts (Malassezia species) and bacteria such as Propionibacterium acnes and Staphylococcus Aureus in severe cases.

Management of Acne Miliaris Necrotica is focused on keeping the scalp clean and bacteria free.

Conditioner can be used but must be kept off the scalp.

Topical steroid lotions and antibiotics such as Clindamycin Solution, Ketoconazole, Fusidic Acid Gel, Erythromycin Solution or Ciclopirox may be helpful.

Oral antihistamines or oral antibiotics, particularly Tetracycline prescribed by a doctor may also help.

This work is copyright 2011. Apart from any use permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced by any process, nor may any other exclusive right be exercised, without the permission of Carolyn Evans Absolique Hair Health Clinic Trichologist at Suite 3, 669 Brunswick Street, New Farm, QLD, 4005, 07 3229 3242

Hair Loss TypesBrisbane Trichologist at Absolique Hair Health Clinic diagnoses and offers treatments for Scalp Conditions, Scalp Scale, Itchy Scalp, Oily Hair, Psoriasis, Seborrheic Dermatitis, Dermatitis, Dry Scalp, Scalp Sores, Pimples on Scalp, Scalp Inflammation, Scalp Infections, Scalp Irritation, Scalp Skin Sensitivity.