Horrible Scratching habit

So I have accepted my curls and have learned to care for them I would say pretty well. However, with curly hair I find I scratch my scalp A LOT. I did not have this problem before going curly (it started a few years ago and now has gotten worse).

I have some dandruff like I did before but my hair does not itch much ---but somehow I cannot keep my hands away from my head! It is so bad that I get scabs at times. I am non-CG, I wash my hair twice a week like before, use HEBE gel and dove hair cream so it is not related to routine (I do not think at least).

I have tried cutting my nails, washing my hair more frequently, different shampoos and products, even wearing mittens at times, but they are only temporary solutions. For my cousin's wedding I straigtened my hair and voila no more scratching. I liked it so much I straightened for a month and I won't lie it was wonderful. (When my hair is straight I do not want to touch my hair.) However, I would rather wear my hair curly all the time.

This is just...such a strange, embarassing problem I hate soooo much and wish it would just stop. I'm so fed up that I would rather straighten my hair all the time no matter how processed and ugly it got than have to deal with this horrible habit. Yep, that is how serious I am. After all this time, nothing has helped but going straight and if that is the only solution then bye bye curls. Please anyone help! Any suggestions/advice would be greatly appreciated.
~Hair under construction ~
Do you think there's something in the products that you're allergic to? I was allergic to several and they made my scalp burn.
3a (Corkicelli), highlighted, fine, low porosity
modified CG, since April '07
CG since 3/11/08

SE PA

HGs: Anything Sevi; Curly Kinks Satin Roots, Curlycue ReNew and Coil Jam; homemade FSG and okra gel; soap bars; UFD Curly Magic (now Hello Curly Curl Stimulater); Botanical Spirits Jellies, CJ Repair Me, Marie Dean Leave Ins and Curl Creams
I would say its an allergy to something you are using, or perhaps not cleaning your scalp properly. When I get the occasional itch I do a brown sugar scrub, which is lovely and stops the problem. However I wouldn't advise doing this if you have bad scabs on your head from scratching. If your head isn't even itchy and you cant stop scratching it sounds like it might be a psychological thing maybe?
I'm chemically sensitive, and until I switched to natural products the itch never went away. But I have to be careful what I use that's natural too. ANYTHING chemically based will cause itch with me, whether it's low poo or gel or conditioner or sulfate poos. I can use them once, sometimes twice, but that's it. Natural products don't do it.

That said, I also suffer from anxiety, and when it's high my head itches more. So the idea that it's psychological is a valid one too. I used to refuse to believe it was anxiety related at all until I started to watch how often it happened and when it was worse. I don't know why that is, but hey.....anyway I completely empathize with you. Hope you get it figured out soon. It took me quite awhile to figure it out.

Cosmetology Educator with sensitivities, eczema and Seborrheic Dermatitis.
Ingredients Maven
Products: Free and Clear sulfate free poo and condish, Theraneem Sulfate Free Shampoo/Condish, Unscented SSCEJ, Coconut oil, Camellia oil, Argan oil
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I would say do the scalp scurubs like kat180 suggested and also, when my scalp was itchy I started using Tea Tree shampoo and conditioner once or twice a week. My hair dresser also suggested spot treating with tea tree oil if I found that there were areas that seemed more itchy than others.
I guess thinking about switching to natural products like Kathymack suggested might not be a bad idea either. Not necessarily go CG if it's not for you. But there are some wonderful natural products like Karen's Body Beautiful and Kinky-Curly that a good chunk of the members here are loving!
HTH! Good luck, itchy scalp is no fun... I definately know this. (As I am scratching my scalp because it got harassed by hairdye at the salon yesterday hahaha)
*Justine*
3a/M/ii with some 2c thrown in some days just below shoulders (growing to mid back)
CGish since 6/8/08 -- one low sulfate wash on 6/7 Completely CG since 8/8/08
Loving Lavender mist, CG "Glisten to Me" spray, KBB hair milk and KCCC
Currently Trying Pink Boots, Tightly Wound, KBB, Kenra condish and anything else I can get my hot little PJ hands on.
http://s108.photobucket.com/albums/n.../Curly%20Hair/
That said, I also suffer from anxiety, and when it's high my head itches more. So the idea that it's psychological is a valid one too. I used to refuse to believe it was anxiety related at all until I started to watch how often it happened and when it was worse. I don't know why that is, but hey.....anyway I completely empathize with you. Hope you get it figured out soon. It took me quite awhile to figure it out.
Originally Posted by rymorg2
Ohh it makes so much sense now... I had a year when I was very busy and anxious as a result and my scalp itched SO BAD. Now it is on and off and I am having another bout of anxiety... I never thought to connect the two!!
*Justine*
3a/M/ii with some 2c thrown in some days just below shoulders (growing to mid back)
CGish since 6/8/08 -- one low sulfate wash on 6/7 Completely CG since 8/8/08
Loving Lavender mist, CG "Glisten to Me" spray, KBB hair milk and KCCC
Currently Trying Pink Boots, Tightly Wound, KBB, Kenra condish and anything else I can get my hot little PJ hands on.
http://s108.photobucket.com/albums/n.../Curly%20Hair/
Sounds like you might need a product overhaul! I had to do this slowly because I was so itchy from several products I was using. Some that CLAIMED to be "natural" like DEVA were awful for me and Jessicurl was awful too. Even when I was doing the co-wash and doing it all CG to the book the itch was still there just not as bad. Then I tried kathymacs way with the shampoo bars and wouldn't you know ZERO itch.
Discovered CG 2007

2C Fia BSL/Thick/Med-Coarse/Low(crown)-Normal Porosity Protein and Oil Sensitive

Link-Spritz & Condish Washing

I'm aCurlJunkieJunky

My hair LOVES Coconut DESPISES Soap Bars


CJRehab or H&B Fix, Deva NO POO, EO Rose & Cham POO & Condish, CJ CurlFix, CJ Pattern Pusha, CJ CIAB, SS FHG, KCCC, BRHG, AG Mousse Gel, ACV Rinses,Shikakai Conditioning Hair Rinse.
Deva Low Poos leave a yucky residue on my scalp that is itchy. I can scrape the gunk off with my fingernail.
I suggest an ACV rinse of your scalp and then condition only for 3-4 days.

Skin leans acidic and can have barrier issues (which would allow for increased sensitivity to a number of things) so the ACV will make it more normalized.

The most likely allergens would be sulfates or wheat. If you avoid all shampoos and wheat in any products for a few days, and then introduce shampoo and then wheat in products, that may help.

So, avoid stimulants like menthol, peppermint, and tea tree when you are trying to determine a sensitizer. Stimulants create a counter-reaction so that your skin won't itch so you won't know for sure if you are doing better when avoiding certain ingredients if you are using a stimulant. It could mask the itching, if it remained.

HTH!
2b w/ some 3a
product tester geek
There's kind of a chicken-and-egg here thing, too, I think. Does the scalp's condition cause the scratching, or does the scratching exacerbate the scalp condition...... both feed each other. You're saying that it doesn't itch, but that it's almost just like a nervous habit (like biting your nails). I think I kind of have that, too. At the same time, if there were nothing to scratch, it wouldn't be a problem. And part of the reason that you scratch is probably because there is something to scratch at, if you get my drift.

So many of these scalp treatment ideas are probably worth trying. Laurabeth's advice seems like a nice, more natural (and CG-friendly) way to figure things out. I also know there are some folks on the boards who have had no choice but to occasionally use a tar or zinc-based dandruff treatment shampoo -- on a temporary basis, when they have flareups. Those do have sulfates, unfortunately. But the higher quality ones (read: more expensive) look like they MIGHT be better formulated than the cheaper ones.

I actually just bought one. But I'm thinking about trying Laurabeth's idea first. Sugar scrubs are only a quick fix for me because the conditioner on the scalp, in the long run, seems to make things worse.

As for breaking the "habit" part of it, that's a tough one. You've tried a bunch of good things already. There are probably "behavioral-therapy-type" methods that could help..... but the ones you've already tried are the ones I would have suggested. Have you done any kind of Internet search to see how people break other, sort of similar habits -- like nail biting, hair-pulling, etc.?

Wurly and proud!
Modified CG since 2008.
I have found that when I dt, I get an itchy scalp for days after. It doesn't matter what sort of deep conditioner, any of them does it. I think that if I don't rinse the conditioner out within minutes, I'm just gonna be an itching post.

I definitely think you should consider re-examining the products you use.

Mix of 3s, thick, coarse, medium porosity

Current hair styling technique: rake with a scrunch at the end. (works with my coarse hair)

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pw: curls

Known HGs: KCCC, homemade fsg, honey
Before I stopped using sulfates, I thought I was just scratching my head and making sores because I was stressed. Then when I stopped using sulfates, my sores went away in a couple of weeks! I still itch my scalp sometimes, but not like I did before I stopped the sulfates. I use Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Treat shampoo every other time I wash my hair, and that has also really helped my scalp. That's something you might want to consider doing. I definitely understand how embarrassing it is to have sores on your scalp!
Somewhere between a 2b/c and a 3a

Current product favorites
Cleansers: Giovanni TTTT shampoo, Deva No-Poo, Tresemme Naturals Moisturizing Conditioner
Conditioners: Tigi Moisture Maniac, Yes to Cucumbers, GVP Conditioning Balm, AOHR
Stylers/Gels: KCCC, SS CEJ and FHG, AOMM, BRHG, LA Looks Sport Gel, Lustrasilk (winter), Pink Boots (winter)
Henna glosses!
I do this also, and one thing I've found is that my scratching is stress related and it helps immensely if I exercise at least every other day to get out some of that nervous energy!

I also always make sure to put cowash or shampoo (I low poo with Giovanni TTT every 4 days) directly onto the spot where I scratch, because I think I read that the oils from your head go into the sore part and make it itch (why scabs are itchy). I could be wrong about the reasoning, but it does seem to help.

Hope that helps, good luck!
Thanks for all the great feedback. My hair and scalp is clean (if I wash more than two times a week my hair gets overly dry DT or not). But the scalp scrub and tea tree oil shampoo sounds like a good idea

I'm chemically sensitive, and until I switched to natural products the itch never went away. But I have to be careful what I use that's natural too. ANYTHING chemically based will cause itch with me, whether it's low poo or gel or conditioner or sulfate poos. I can use them once, sometimes twice, but that's it. Natural products don't do it.
Originally Posted by rymorg2

That said, I also suffer from anxiety, and when it's high my head itches more. So the idea that it's psychological is a valid one too. I used to refuse to believe it was anxiety related at all until I started to watch how often it happened and when it was worse. I don't know why that is, but hey.....anyway I completely empathize with you. Hope you get it figured out soon. It took me quite awhile to figure it out.
Originally Posted by rymorg2
I change the shampoos I use all the time (my sister and mom are product junkies so it is not hard). I noticed even when I was CG for some months, the same thing occurred. What I notice, no matter the shampoo, or CG conditioner, the same problem occurs.

You know I am starting to think it is anxiety…last week I had midterms and that was when it was really occurring. Hmmm. My mom always said she did not understand how I can be fine for some time and then the problem occurs again.

Wavycurly+40, I do have dandruff off and on which makes the problem worse. Probably I will talk to my dermatologist to prescribe a product. And I did some net searching and found like rymorg said it is related to anxiety. There is understanding the problem and also recognizing stressful situations that might cause it. Of course, easier said than done. Someone did mention exercising like Jonesy said which would be good since I have been neglecting that.
~Hair under construction ~
Thanks for all the great feedback. My hair and scalp is clean (if I wash more than two times a week my hair gets overly dry DT or not). But the scalp scrub and tea tree oil shampoo sounds like a good idea

I change the shampoos I use all the time (my sister and mom are product junkies so it is not hard). I noticed even when I was CG for some months, the same thing occurred. What I notice, no matter the shampoo, or CG conditioner, the same problem occurs.

You know I am starting to think it is anxiety…last week I had midterms and that was when it was really occurring. Hmmm. My mom always said she did not understand how I can be fine for some time and then the problem occurs again.

Wavycurly+40, I do have dandruff off and on which makes the problem worse. Probably I will talk to my dermatologist to prescribe a product. And I did some net searching and found like rymorg said it is related to anxiety. There is understanding the problem and also recognizing stressful situations that might cause it. Of course, easier said than done. Someone did mention exercising like Jonesy said which would be good since I have been neglecting that.
Originally Posted by Medusa Head
I do the same thing Mine's a combination of restless energy/anxiety and psoriasis on my scalp. Mine KIND of itches due to the psoriasis but I think it's mostly that it gives me something to do, subconciously.

It's a bit like any kind of bad habit (biting nails, twirling hair around your finger)... you'll just have to make a concious effort to stop and figure out a method that works. Personally, since going CG and knowing that touching my curly hair causes frizz, I don't do it nearly as much as I used to when my hair was straight (and it didn't hurt anything to touch it...)

Good luck! (and let me know if something works for you... lol, I'm always interested )
CG/Mod CG (soap bars) since 8/12/08
CO wash/Cond: Kathymack & Flowermoon Castille soap bars, V05 Chamomile Tea, Suave Ocean Breeze, Biolage Conditioning Balm
Styling loves: DIFFUSING! CK, KCNT, KCCC, FOTE (on dry hair only), Re:coil, Proclaim gel
Not sure about: Boots, Tweek, KBB Milk, DMHJ
HATE: plopping, FOTE on wet hair, BRHG
I have issues like this, too...dandruff and itchiness, but also it's like I get zits on my scalp if that makes any sense?! Which if I squeeze them, then I get scabs which increases the itchy... Ugh, I can't seem to win... I've been CG since the summer time, and I've been trying the raw sugar thing when I co-wash to help scrub/cleanse. I think I'm going to have to resort to going back to the Dermarest Psoriasis shampoo to try to get this back under control...I've had this issue from time to time, even before I went mostly CG...

Has anyone else had this where they had to resort to prescription stuff?! I have not gone to a dermatologist yet, but I really might have to consider it...
Dulcy
3b fine - modified CG (SLS once a week, no non-water-soluble cones/no -xanes) since Aug 08

Fave Products -
'Poo: NG or Organix 'poos
Cond: Garnier Fructis Triple Nutrition, Tresemme Naturals Moisture/Volumizing, or Suave Naturals, depending on the day!
Leave-in: NG Lavender & Aloe Cond. watered down in a spray bottle
Styling: Giovanni Air Mousse, FOTE Aloe Vera gel mixed with BRHG...
Suddenly MY head itches . . .

. . . ah the power of persuasion!

I hope you find a solution.
CG since 10/5/08
Faux Red-head since 1997 - recent henna head
3a/2b
CoWash: Suave Naturals Tropical Coconut
Conditioners: L'Oreal Vivre Pro Nutrigloss
Winter Stylers: KCKT, KCCC, FOTE, BRHG, Boots
Summer products I'm missing: CK, re:Coil, Tweek
Techniques: single plop, pixiecurl diffuse


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