man running fingers through brown curly hair

Causes & Treatments for an Itchy, Dry Scalp

An itchy scalp can be irritating, and could lead to complications down the line. Learn about the potential causes & treatments for an itchy scalp with Nioxin.

If you’ve ever suffered from a dry, itchy scalp, you’re not alone. Though the topic of scalp health sometimes gets overlooked in the wellness category, scalp problems are a common complaint in the general population. It’s been reported that at least 40-50% of people struggle with issues arising from a sensitive scalp – including itching.1

While a persistent itch can be intensely irritating, it’s also important to note that leaving the underlying cause of an itchy scalp untreated can cause complications, including hair loss.2 To help avoid any potential complications and nix the itch, it’s best to take a proactive approach: find out what’s causing your itchy scalp and start any recommended treatment promptly.

Keep reading for a look at some of the potential causes and treatment options for an itchy scalp. If you are currently experiencing a chronically itchy scalp, please consult a qualified medical professional, such as your doctor, a dermatologist, or a trichologist.


On the face of it, an itchy scalp might seem like a minor issue, but disregarding the underlying cause can lead to more serious complications, such as hair loss.

Scalp itching can be caused by a variety of things, from small amounts of leftover shampoo after a shower to autoimmune conditions.

Effectively treating an itchy scalp hinges on correctly identifying the root cause, which is why we recommend consulting a qualified medical professional. For symptomatic relief from a dry, itchy scalp, try our Scalp Relief line, which is specifically formulated to combat dryness and itching.


The following are just some of the conditions and situations that can result in an itchy scalp:3, 4

A reaction to a haircare product. How thoroughly do you rinse your hair in the shower? Leaving some shampoo on your scalp can irritate it, so if your scalp is dry and flaky as well as itchy, and you take super speedy showers, you might need to slow down a little and make sure you rinse your shampoo out completely. If you have an itchy rash on your scalp, that could indicate an allergy to a haircare product (or to one of its ingredients).

Dandruff. If you spot little flakes of skin on your scalp, in your hair, and/or on your clothes, and your scalp is dry and itchy, you might have dandruff. Learn more about dandruff and hair loss here.

Head lice. An itchy scalp is the most common symptom of head lice. It’s actually the bites of the lice that cause the itching, and the bites may also result in red, irritated scalp skin.5

Plaque psoriasis. This is the most common type of psoriasis,6 and approximately 50% of sufferers will experience a flare-up on the scalp. This can manifest as reddish patches on the scalp, flaking similar to dandruff, silvery-white scale, and a dry, mildly to intensely itchy scalp.

Atopic dermatitis. Atopic dermatitis is a type of eczema which can develop on the scalp. Along with an itchy scalp, symptoms can include scalp redness and scale, and the sensation of the scalp burning.


Unfortunately, there’s no single best treatment for an itchy scalp – instead, your best chance of eliminating that aggravating itch relies on correctly identifying the underlying cause and receiving the appropriate treatment.

For example, if your itchy scalp is the result of a reaction to a haircare product, getting relief could be as simple as taking care to rinse your hair thoroughly in the shower, or discontinuing use of the offending product.7 If your itchy scalp is due to dandruff, you might likewise be able to address your symptoms at home with the help of specialized products, such as our Nioxin Scalp & Dandruff Products.

On the other hand, if your itchy scalp is caused by a condition like atopic dermatitis or plaque psoriasis, you’ll need to follow a specialized treatment plan advised by a qualified medical professional.

Do not try to self-diagnose, and as previously mentioned, please consult your doctor if you have concerns about any active symptoms.


Shop The Story

View all