What causes a dry, itchy scalp?

Sep 15 2020Sam

What causes a dry, itchy scalp?

A dry, itchy scalp is uncomfortable but rest assured you are not alone in suffering from the problem. There are many reasons why this issue can crop up and as a result it is a pretty common occurrence. In this blog I’m going to take a look at why a dry, itchy scalp becomes problematic and from there you should be able to address the issue.

Is your scalp itchy but not flaky?

Dandruff is the most common cause of a dry, itchy scalp but this problem, as many of us are aware, is usually accompanied by flaky skin. The skin constantly sheds old skin cells and replaces them with new ones however, dandruff occurs when this process speeds up. As a result, dead skin cells build up on the hair and scalp and then begin to flake.

If your scalp is itchy but does not show these tell-tale flakes though, then it indicates something else is the issue so what might that be?

The content of your shampoo

Ever looked at your shampoo bottle and struggled to make sense of all the ingredients listed? Many popular hair care products get their effects from an array of unrecognisable ingredients – does anyone know what Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is? No? I didn’t think so yet this ingredient is frequently used to give shampoos their foamy effect, plus it helps to cleanse the hair and scalp.

The hair and scalp produce oils naturally in order to keep the area healthy but SLS is a very harsh ingredient that can strip away these oils. This can lead to irritation, dryness and an itchy scalp and so is quite problematic. On top of this, many hair washes also include other harsh ingredients such as artificial fragrances and alcohol which again, lifts away those natural oils.

Product build-up

From heat protection spray to gels and mousses, we often rely on an array of hair care products in order to achieve our desired style. However, if these products aren’t washed out properly at the end of the day then it can be problematic. This causes a build-up that will eventually contribute to dryness and itching on the scalp – not good news!


Whether it’s work-related or something more personal, stress releases certain hormones and pro-inflammatory chemicals which then inhibit the scalp’s ability to keep in moisture. As a result, you may find that you are now sensitive to products that did not previously cause you any problems but also the area becomes drier and itchier too.

Skin conditions

Eczema, psoriasis and rosacea are just a few common skin conditions that may also contribute to a dry, itchy scalp, though most of the time these symptoms are accompanied by flaky skin as well. Certain factors such as stress can trigger or worsen symptoms so if you suddenly experience a flare up it is worth baring this in mind.

The weather

In winter the heating is often cranked up indoors yet when we step outside the temperatures can reach below zero. This isn’t good news for the skin because it dries out as we constantly make this switch from very hot to very cold. So, this could explain why your scalp gets dry and itchy in the later months of the year.


Allergies to animal dander, dust, mould and even pollen could contribute to a dry, itchy scalp. Here the immune system releases histamine in order to fight these things off and as a result, familiar symptoms such as a blocked nose and itchy eyes can develop. However, in order to flush out allergens, the body also widens the blood vessels thus causing inflammation. This can then lead to dryness and itching all over the body, including on the scalp.

What can you do?

To tackle a dry, itchy scalp I’d recommend you simply switch your usual shampoo to one that’s a little gentler on the hair and scalp. John Masters’ Organic Spearmint and Meadowsweet Scalp Shampoo is ideal here as enriched with 6 organic ingredients and is specifically formulated to cleanse the scalp. That’s not all though, it also improves the appearance of the hair by adding volume to it.

Also, a lighter product such as Green People’s Hair Serum with Quinoa and Avocado will be much easier to wash out than any thick gels and mousses so this is definitely the way forward if you have a dry, itchy scalp. This product can be used to style the hair without weighing it down or making it look greasy.