Scalp Itchiness Symptoms, Causes & Common Questions

Understand your scalp itchiness symptoms, including 8 causes & common questions.

  1. 8 Possible Scalp Itchiness Causes
  2. Real-Life Stories
  3. Questions Your Doctor May Ask
  4. Statistics
  5. Related Articles

8 Possible Scalp Itchiness Causes

The list below shows results from the use of our quiz by Buoy users who experienced scalp itchiness. This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.

Eczema (atopic dermatitis)

Eczema (atopic dermatitis) is a non-contagious chronic skin condition that produces an itchy rash. It is caused by a genetic condition that affects the skin's ability to protect itself from bacteria and allergens. The most susceptible are those with a family hi...

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Ringworm of the scalp (tinea capitis)

Ringworm of the scalp, also called tinea capitis, is caused by a microscopic fungus and not by an actual worm.

Any type of ringworm is easily spread through direct contact with a person, or a pet animal, who has the infection; or through direct contact with the hairbrushes, clothes, towels, bedding, or other items that an infected person has used.

Most susceptible are pre-school and school-age children, and anyone with a weakened immune system.

Symptoms include itchy, scaly, round-appearing patches of hair loss on the scalp.

It is important to see a medical provider for symptoms of scalp ringworm, both to help ease the discomfort and to prevent the spread of the condition to others.

Diagnosis is made through physical examination and sometimes a skin sample for testing.

Treatment involves washing all clothes and bedding in hot water and detergent, and using an antifungal shampoo as well as a prescribed cream or gel for the affected spots on the scalp. Sometimes a course of antifungal tablets will also be prescribed.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: scalp itchiness, patchy hair loss, scalp redness, scaling of the scalp, rash

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Allergic contact dermatitis of the scalp

Allergic contact dermatitis is a condition in which the skin becomes irritated and inflamed following physical contact with an allergen. Common products known to cause allergic dermatitis include plants, metals, soap, fragrance, and cosmetics.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: scalp itchiness, scalp redness, scabbed area of the scalp

Symptoms that always occur with allergic contact dermatitis of the scalp: scalp redness

Urgency: Self-treatment

Head lice

Anyone can develop head lice if they have the parasite Pediculus humanus capitis living on their scalp. Head lice is a very common condition. It affects people worldwide, of all socioeconomic backgrounds, and is predominantly seen in children. Symptoms include scalp itchiness, visible marks from itching, and ...

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Scalp Itchiness Symptom Checker

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your scalp itchiness

Non-specific insect bite

Insect bites are very common. The saliva given off during the bit can sometimes cause dangerous allergic reactions that affect your ability to breathe. However, the vast majority of insect bites have no adverse effects besides the inflammation where the bite occurred.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms:

Urgency: Self-treatment

Mosquito bite

Mosquito bites are bites from flying insects that feed on the blood of animals, including humans. Mosquito bites are more common during the summer or in warmer climates, at dawn or dusk, and near bodies of water.

In most cases, mosquito bites will cause a local skin reaction that gets better on ...

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Normal episode of itchy skin

Itchy skin is also called pruritis. There are a number of "normal" causes for itching, meaning the cause is not disease-related and does not result in seriously damaged skin.

The most common causes are:

  • Dry skin, due to bathing in soap or bubble bath that may be too harsh and is stripping the natural oils from the skin.
  • Mild allergies, which may be caused by dust; certain plants and flowers; nickel-containing jewelry; and any sort of soap, detergent, lotion, or perfume.
  • Pregnancy, due to stretching of skin or to a condition called prurigo. Prurigo causes small, itchy bumps which may be due to an autoimmune system dysfunction during pregnancy.

Menopause, due to hormonal changes that may leave the skin overly dry.

Diagnosis is made through physical examination and sometimes allergy tests.

Treatment involves bathing only with mild, hypoallergenic soap; regular moisturizing with unscented lotion; wearing soft, loose, non-synthetic clothing; avoiding any substances that seem to provoke the itching; and sometimes prescription medicated creams.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: feeling itchy or tingling all over

Symptoms that always occur with normal episode of itchy skin: feeling itchy or tingling all over

Urgency: Self-treatment

Seborrheic dermatitis

Seborrheic dermatitis is a common chronic inflammatory skin condition that causes flaky, white to yellowish scales to form on oily areas such as the scalp, face or inside the ear. It can occur with or without reddened skin. The exact cause of this condition is not known, although doctors think that some common skin yeast organisms, called Malassezia, may play a role in some people.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: itchy rash, red or pink, rough patch of skin, rash with well-defined border, scalp skin changes, cheek skin changes

Symptoms that never occur with seborrheic dermatitis: fever

Urgency: Phone call or in-person visit

Real-life Stories

Once your story is reviewed and approved by our editors, it will live on Buoy as a helpful resource for anyone who may be dealing with something similar. If you want to learn more, try Buoy Assistant.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Scalp Itchiness

To diagnose this condition, your doctor would likely ask the following questions:

  • Did you possibly brush into poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac?
  • Any fever today or during the last week?
  • Did your symptoms start after you were exposed to glues, fragrances, preservatives, hair dyes, soaps, detergents, or other common household chemicals?
  • Do you have a rash?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions

Scalp Itchiness Symptom Checker

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your scalp itchiness

Scalp Itchiness Symptom Checker Statistics

People who have experienced scalp itchiness have also experienced:

  • 6% Scalp Pain
  • 5% Feeling Itchy Or Tingling All Over
  • 5% Scalp Bump

People who have experienced scalp itchiness were most often matched with:

  • 57% Ringworm Of The Scalp (Tinea Capitis)
  • 28% Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis)
  • 14% Allergic Contact Dermatitis Of The Scalp

People who have experienced scalp itchiness had symptoms persist for:

  • 37% Over a month
  • 34% Less than a day
  • 14% Less than a week

Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from Buoy Assistant (a.k.a. the quiz).

Scalp Itchiness Symptom Checker

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your scalp itchiness

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