View Full Version : Itchy scalp -- any advice?

April 27th, 2008, 11:02 PM
I know this isn't the most pleasant thing to talk about but I'm desperate! My scalp has been itchy for the past few years. I went to my doctor and she told me to use baby shampoo. Tried it, didn't help. She said use selson shampoo. Strike two. She said don't wash your hair everyday. Not only does my hair get very greasy if I don't wash it each day, my scalp actually feels twice as itchy when I don't wash it! This is kind of gross, but I also have some sort of white powdery residue on my scalp. Whenever I scratch my scalp it gets under my fingernails. I looked this up on webmd.com and it said to go to your doctor for treatment if you have this problem. Well, that didn't work! It's becoming such an annoyance, and it's also really embarassing to have to get the residue out from under my fingernails everytime I scratch my head. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!!

April 27th, 2008, 11:20 PM
When my scalp is itchy, I don't shampoo, but I wash it with conditioner only. It helps most of the time.

You may have a sulfate sensitivity, hence the chronic itchiness.

April 28th, 2008, 03:41 AM
Using a shampoo that does not contain SLS (sodium laureth sulfate) has helped my itchy spot.

As for your scalp you could do a search for scritching, quite a few around here finds that helps. Or maybe scalp massages.

And you really should try to stretch your washes some! I wash every second day, but stretch more once in a while if I'm not going anywhere. And it does me a world of good!


April 28th, 2008, 03:46 AM
Try this article: http://forums.longhaircommunity.com/vbjournal.php?do=article&articleid=6

It's kind of abbreviated, but if there is something that is not clear (eg what is scritching) you can use it to search this forum and especially the archived forums.

What helped me personally the most was the honey-aloe massage, and the EO in jojoba massage in between washes.

HTH, and that it gets better soon, I know how annoying it is to deal with this!

By the way - most baby shampoos are not recommended for adults. They are too alkaline which is so that it doesn't irritate babies' eyes, but that means it's not the greatest for your hair.

April 28th, 2008, 05:08 AM
I use an apple cider vinegar rinse after I shampoo & condition (about 5ml in 100ml of filtered water). It helps a lot. My scalp tends to be more itchy if I don't wash frequently - anything past a week is too long and it protests.

If it's dry skin an oil or butter massage at night will probably help - that way you can leave it on all night to work & wash out the excess it the morning.

It will depend on the cause as to what works for you. It's likely to be an allergy or bacteria. Either way it will probably take a couple of weeks to calm down even after you change your routine. So don't be discouraged it you don't feel immediate results.

April 28th, 2008, 06:23 AM
I rarely have this problem, but when I have, a brown sugar scrub helps.

Mix brown sugar with a conditioner that suits you and massage it on your scalp. The brown sugar will dissolver, and the peeling action leaves the scalp nice and clean.

For me, it solves the problem.

But the solution depends on the cause of the problem. If your scalp does not tolerate certain ingredients or you have a fungus, you will need more than a brown sugar scrub.

What about scalp massages with jojoba oil and essential oil of lavender? I find lavender very calming for the skin.

April 28th, 2008, 09:50 AM
I'v had the same problem for some time now, do you get little break outs on your scalp also?

I have been trying cwc again, it didnt work the last couple of times but I think it was the poo and con I was using. I recently bought a Burts Bee's shampoo and conditioner (the lemony one) the conditioner wasent heavy enough, strange because I have such fine hair anything is usually to heavy. I loved the scent and cleaning of the poo so I tryed conditioning first and last with giovannie (SP?) coconut from my ears down only. So far so great!! I have only small drying up break outs and no new. I get both fro rite aide. I also only oil from the ears down or I get to much gunk. With the burts bees I can wash ever other day and I think I could push that to three if I cut down on oiling.

April 28th, 2008, 10:10 AM
Have you tried Tea tree oil or Neem oil? Tea tree oil will probably be easier to find, health food stores, pharmacies, and walmart carry it. ( sorry I don't know where you are) Using the oil in a shampoo or applied directly to the scalp ( don't apply other essential oils neat to the skin, they must be diluted. However Tea tree and Lavender can be used full strength on adults) may help. Sorry you have the itchies, hope it gets better soon :flower: catfish

April 28th, 2008, 10:20 AM
I had an itchy , oily scalp for years. I got rid of it not too long after finding LHC.

I tried all the usual stuff, finally settling on a routine of diluted shampoo, usually a Nature's Gate product. One tablespoon with 4 ounces of warm water, shaken well, then applied to the scalp. This allows you to get ALOT of lather without a lot of shampoo.

Once every two months or so, I do a white vinegar rinse, which helped to correct the ph balance of my scalp, thus keeping the oil production under control.

Using harsh sulfates on oily scalp only strip the oils off, causing the scalp to go into hyper-production of oil.


April 28th, 2008, 10:24 AM
I had an itchy , oily scalp for years. I got rid of it not too long after finding LHC.

I tried all the usual stuff, finally settling on a routine of diluted shampoo, usually a Nature's Gate product. One tablespoon with 4 ounces of warm water, shaken well, then applied to the scalp. This allows you to get ALOT of lather without a lot of shampoo.

Once every two months or so, I do a white vinegar rinse, which helped to correct the ph balance of my scalp, thus keeping the oil production under control.

Using harsh sulfates on oily scalp only strip the oils off, causing the scalp to go into hyper-production of oil.


I've been following this thread because I have a similar question, and what I've been trying that may help the OP is tea tree oil (I've got a diluted mixture that can be applied directly to the scalp) and ACV rinses (although I'm not sure if they're helping or hindering). You say that you have a tablespoon in 4 oz. of water, and I have a couple questions about that:
a) how much is that in mL/pints?
b) do you use the entire mixture in one go or save some for the next wash?

I'm not trying to hijack, as I think these questions may benefit the OP as well.

April 28th, 2008, 10:31 AM
I have dermatitis, and only a medicated shampoo keeps it from getting so bad that I start shedding. I still had the occasional itchies, though, so I tried Tea Tree oil. Yay! When I wash, I pour my normal amount of shampoo into my hand, add 2-3 drops of TTO, and apply. The smell's a tad medicinal, but it fades when I rinse. By the time I take the towel off my hair for drying, the smell's gone.

April 28th, 2008, 10:49 AM
I only wash twice a week - one CO and one CWC. I try to use products with natural fragrances. I am really sensitive to those, and my scalp breaks out. If I do a ACV rinse before my final condition, I have a lot less trouble. My mother was also having problems. She started doing a green tea rinse, and swears by it. I haven't tried it yet, but would like to.

heidi w.
April 28th, 2008, 11:24 AM
I have a scalp condition known as Seborrheic Dermatitus (also spelled -tites ... I've seen it a few different ways on the end). Seborrheic Dermatitus is a more severe form of dandruff. I suspect that you are concerned you have dandruff when you see that white stuff. Here are the symptoms:

1. itchy scalp
2. red dots/bumps
3. bumps can weep or bleed, and then crust over (usually a little yellowish)
4. overproduction of sebum, within 3 days it's an oil slick
5. becomes MORE itchy if I don't wash it, and more likely that the bumps will fill with sebum, and if scratched, secrete and bleed.
6. when dries up, it dries close to hair shoot from scalp, really tight, and doesn't come off in little dandruff flakes, but in bigger sheets, requiring the use of a tweezer to lift it off and unpeel from adhering to hair.

Do you have any such symptoms? The only dovetail I hear so far is the itchy scalp, almost no matter what and the oily/greasy hair -- and how fast it becomes such.

What is your hair wash method? Do you rinse well? Do you apply anything to your scalp, including conditioner when you condition your hair? Do you do anything such as an ACV Rinse or a Lemon Rinse? Have you oiled your scalp skin, or hair close to scalp?

There are a variety of scalp skin conditions. You might consider seeing a professional dermatologist (licensed to do surgery) for a professional diagnosis. If you opt for this, be sure to present with symptoms in full bloom! And be prepared to state what you've done about it. Not all family doctors or primary care physicians are able to diagnose, reliably, skin conditions.

If the stuff that's rising up under your fingernails is white (I mean white), then this is merely sebum. Our hair follicles (actually a little gland right next to each hair follicle) produce sebum as a method for helping to protect the hair itself and the scalp skin. Sebum is a waxy ester; indeed, this white stuff kind of balls up. Not unlike ear wax (I know, graphic, but you get the idea then, eh?!!) When we oil our hair, for example, this is an action that is intended to mimic what sebum does for hair strands. However, for most, oiling the scalp skin or closely associated hair should not be done. Allow one's natural sebum to do its job. This is why I recommend in oiling to start around the earlobes on down the length, not any higher.

If the stuff is yellowy in color, this is still sebum BUT it means there's likely a hint of infection in the hair follicle.

Here's what happens on the scalp skin:

There's a balance on the skin -- all skin -- and it's known, for the scalp's skin, as the acid mantle. All of our skin produces some sebum, but different areas will be more or less (just as all skin thickness about our entire body is not the same).

The acid mantle is a protective barrier to keep the hair follicles healthy (so they'll continue to grow hair) protecting against bacteria, dirt, and so on. It also keeps the skin itself healthy. The acid mantle is a balance between sebum and sweat and has a specific pH that most shampoos upset by being too alkali and not acidic enough.

The sebum of skin declines as we age which contributes to drier skin, and wrinkly skin, even.

Dandruff, surprisingly to many, is not about dry skin. (Dry skin is about lack of sebum.) The flakes do not occur because of dry skin. It is normal to shed skin cells, but in the instance of dandruff, they tend to shed too rapidly (mingled with sebum). Dandruff is typically about a sebum production problem -- too much, too fast. While flakes are a symptom of dandruff, all flakes aren't necessarily dandruff. It could be dried product that wasn't rinsed out well enough, for example, or some kind of buildup on the scalp skin (combining sebum, product, dirt, as another example)

Seborrheic Dermatitus is about too much sebum and the acid mantle easily getting off the mark (pH), and that bacteria that's ever present growing too fast and getting into the hair follicle and causing an infection, an itch that persists. I am NOT saying you have Seborrheic Dermatitus nor dandruff; I am ONLY saying that it's possible for bacteria to get into hair follicles. The most likely reason this occurs is with infrequent hair washing and/or when the acid mantle is out of whack.

The below links and quotes will help to round out your understanding of the acid mantle. The acid mantle is fundamentally about balance between sweat and sebum. Most shampoos strip away the acid mantle, and the skin can become dry in that instance.

About what is the acid mantle?

"Sebum is an oily secretion produced by sebacious glands, tiny ducts adjacent to hair follicles. Sebum is secreted into the follicle, from which it spreads over the hair and skin. The main role of sebum is to waterproof the skin and hair. Both excess and lack of sebum are undesirable. Excess sebum is associated with oily skin and acne. It is particularly common in adolescents as the increased levels of sex hormones stimulate sebum production. Lack of sebum, which is common in middle and older age, leads to skin dryness and accelerates wrinkle formation.

Sweat is a salty, watery solution produced by sweat glands, numerous microscopic channels opening onto the skin surface. As sebum and sweat mix up on the skin surface, they form a protective layer often referred to as the acid mantle . Acid mantle has a particular level of acidity characterized by pH from about 4 to 5.5. A pH of 7 is considered neutral, above 7 is alkaline, and below is acidic. The pH of acid in the human stomach, for example, is usually from 1 to 2, which is highly acidic. The skin, on the other hand, is mildly acidic. In addition to helping protect skin from "the elements" (such as wind or pollutants), acid mantle also inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria and fungi. If acid mantle is disrupted or loses its acidity, the skin becomes more prone to damage and infection. The loss of acid mantle is one of the side-effects of washing the skin with soaps or detergents of moderate or high strength."


http://www.julianjay.com/dandruff_dry_itchy_scalp.aspx read this; it's good!!

1 Scritch before your next (and any type of) hair wash. That is, use a fine toothed comb to basically scratch the scalp to loosen and lift detris so that the hair wash is more effective.

2 Do not apply conditioner to your scalp skin or closely associated hair to scalp skin. You can lean the head over to one side and go pretty high up with conditioner without applying conditioner to scalp skin

3 Consider performing a clarify hair wash of some form to strip off any buildup both on hair and scalp skin. Do precede such a wash with scritching. Definitely perform a very good conditioning session of hair length (just not to scalp skin) when clarifying. You must replace what you remove off of hair's surface strands. Do not skip conditioning very well. Very important!!! An ACV rinse is NOT a clarify hair wash that removes buildup/dirt/grime/sebum that has dried on hair's surface or skin's surface.

4 Look for shampoos that have no lauryl or laureth sulfates. They exist.

5 Consider applying a rinse as part of your hair wash, either ACV or Lemon. Both help re-set the pH. If blonde, do lemon, not ACV (new info from former posts I've done on this topic).

6 Go to the dermatologist and get a diagnosis.

7 Try Nizoral shampoo.

8 If hair is around waist length or longer, wash more frequently via scalp washing method, to protect the length from too much washing.

9 Do NOT apply conditioner to scalp skin -- ever

10 How hard is your water? Think about a shower head filter (easy to install & inexpensive, especially if renting -- do not need landlord's permission to install this)

11 The minute your hair feels kinda wet (from sebum) scritch. Try to avoid allowing it to harden. (IF you don't know how to scritch, ask.)

12 Scratch scalp with a fine tooth comb or official Scritching comb. Avoid using fingers/fingernails as this introduces bacteria!

13 Wash pillows and pillowcases more frequently. 2 nights per side of pillowcase, then wash.

14 If you determine it's dry scalp, use a humidifier at night in the sleeping area.

15 Be sure that every single hair wash you also clean, very well, your hair detangling tools. Unclean tools can re-introduce bacteria, old sebum, dirt, etc. Use a toothpick along comb's teeth to see how much stuff comes off, then you'll know what I mean!!

I will also PM you.
heidi w.

heidi w.
April 28th, 2008, 11:26 AM
I have dermatitis, and only a medicated shampoo keeps it from getting so bad that I start shedding. I still had the occasional itchies, though, so I tried Tea Tree oil. Yay!

I meant to suggest Tea Tree Oil as it's anti-bacterial and intended for helping skin (those with herpes use it sometimes, for example). But take it easy. Too much is known to possibly cause some shedding hair.

heidi w.