So you’ve decided to let your hair grow more naturally. You’re using next to no harmful hair care products and have a strict regimen you’ve been following for your hair care. But now your scalp is itching like mad! Is this a good sign, just par for the course? Does this mean your hair is growing, or is it something else?
What Causes Itchy Scalp?
A dry, itchy scalp is very common, especially in the winter months. However, internal and external stress can also cause itchy scalps, according to Dr. Alan Rockoff, MD who specializes in dermatology. In addition, Mia Wadsworth who runs her own website on dealing with dry and itchy scalps, says you can actually bring this problem on yourself by using harsh shampoos and conditioners, hair sprays and hair care products that contain alcohol.
Wadsworth points out that this can be a vicious cycle. Women especially will panic at what appears to be dandruff in their hair (resulting from scratching their scalp), run out and buy dandruff-removing shampoos, and then have a scalp that itches like crazy, leading to more of the “dandruff” that never was dandruff in the first place. Product build-up can also dry out our scalps, as can the bitter, cold weather (think “chapped lips” on the head).
Is This Good for Hair Growth?
It’s time to de-bunk the myth that an itchy scalp means your hair is growing. So what’s the truth?
Hair growth really has nothing to do with the condition of your scalp and everything to do with your metabolism. If you have a high metabolism, you may find that your hair grows quickly. Those with a slower metabolism will find that their hair grows slower as well.
Furthermore, an itchy scalp can actually be a precursor to hair LOSS, not growth.
What Can a Curly Do About the Itch?
Hard as it is, one of the best things you can do to stop the itchy scalp syndrome is to stop scratching, according to a team of health promotion specialists at Columbia University. They suggest using gloves on your hands at night to prevent itching in your sleep, as well as keeping your nails trimmed so they won’t be able to do much “scratching.”
You can also apply a cool compress to your scalp when you’re not in the shower, or cooked oatmeal massaged into the scalp if you’re in the tub. “Taking a bath and soaking your head in water with some uncooked oatmeal or baking soda sprinkled in may help soothe the itch,” says the team at Columbia University.
Finally, if you suffer from chronic itchy scalp, opt for hair care products that are fragrance-free so you can rule out the possibility that the itchiness is due to perfumes you’re putting on your head. Dr. Rockoff suggests using mild, non-medicated products (so don’t go for the ones that promote themselves as “dandruff treatments”).
Check out this list of detergents that cause dry, itchy scalp and make sure they aren't in any of your current products!
If you’re more interested in home remedies for your itchy scalp, try massaging some olive oil into the scalp and leaving it on for about 10 minutes prior to your shampoo. You can also massage tea tree oil into your scalp until its absorbed.
Experts Who Contributed to this Article:
Dr. Alan Rockoff, MD - Specialist in Dermatology
Mia Wadsworth - Author
Columbia University - Team of Health Promotion Specialists