Home Remedies for Itchy Scalp: Oils and Alternative Treatments

Home remedies such as coconut oil, an apple cider vinegar rinse, and peppermint oil may help ease symptoms of an itchy scalp.

Scalp pruritus, known as an itchy scalp, is a common symptom of various scalp conditions.

Treatment largely depends on the underlying cause of your itchy scalp. However, some home remedies may help relieve your symptoms.

Organic coconut oil is naturally extracted from mature coconuts. It may have antifungal and antibacterial properties that could help relieve your itchy scalp.

Nearly 50% of a coconut’s fat content is lauric acid. This saturated fat helps the skin absorb coconut oil efficiently, making it a soothing treatment for itchy scalp.

A 2009 study suggests that a combination of coconut oil and anise may be more successful at delousing and eliminating scalp itch caused by head lice than permethrin, a medication used to treat lice.

A 2016 study of 50 people found that peppermint oil helped significantly reduce symptoms of itchiness after applying it to pruritus-affected areas twice a day for 2 weeks.

The oil can be diluted with water or another oil, such as olive oil, then massaged into the scalp before shampooing.

Activities that reduce stress, such as meditation, may be effective at eliminating itchy scalps.

Researchers from a 2021 review found that different types of meditation and guided imagery helped improve symptoms of psoriasis, such as lesions.

That said, they note that meditation should be used alongside other medical treatments, and more research is needed.

Using an app or listening to a meditation tape or podcast is a great way to start meditating if you’re new to it.

Tea tree oil is an antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory essential oil that may help relieve your itchy scalp.

It can be irritating to the skin, so it’s important to use it sparingly or dilute it prior to use.

Try adding 10-20 drops of tea tree oil to a gentle shampoo or mix it with olive oil and massage it directly into your scalp.

Zinc pyrithione shampoo is a common over-the-counter (OTC) anti-fungal treatment for skin conditions like psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis.

Speak with a healthcare professional before using these types of shampoos, as the amount of zinc pyrithione in each shampoo varies by brand. You may need to try different kinds before finding one that works best for you.

How often you shampoo your hair may depend on your condition. Some people find daily shampooing provides the most itch relief, while others find this is too drying for the scalp.

Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid found in evergreen leaves and white willow tree bark. It has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antipuritive properties that may help treat symptoms of an itchy scalp.

Shampoos containing this ingredient may vary by strength and require different application methods. It’s important to read the labels and follow the usage instructions given.

Salicylic acid shouldn’t be used by anyone with an aspirin allergy or sensitivity to salicylic acid.

Ketoconazole is a broad-spectrum, antifungal agent that’s effective at reducing infections caused by yeast.

Ketoconazole shampoos are available as OTC or prescription medications.

These shampoos typically reduce symptoms within 2-3 weeks. You may also use them every 1-2 weeks to prevent scalp conditions like dandruff from returning.

Speak with a healthcare professional before using Ketoconazole shampoos. They may cause side effects, such as a burning sensation on your skin.

Selenium sulfide is an anti-infective medication that helps treat seborrheic dermatitis by slowing down the growth of yeast on the scalp.

A 2023 study in over 1400 adults found that 95% of those who applied selenium sulfide-based shampoo 2-3 times per week for 4 weeks reported significantly less pruritus than before.

Speak with a healthcare professional before trying selenium sulfide-based shampoos. Application methods and quantities may vary for each person.

Essential oils and medicated shampoos may cause some side effects on your skin, such as:

It’s important not to use ingredients you have a known allergy to. In rare cases, a person may experience anaphylaxis. This is an emergency that requires immediate medical attention.

Speak with a doctor about medical treatments if your symptoms:

  • last longer than a week
  • include pain, sores, or swelling
  • include itching so intense it interferes with your ability to sleep or function

Why is my head itching so badly?

You may experience an itchy scalp (scalp pruritus) for a variety of reasons, such as:

How do you get rid of an itchy scalp fast?

Some home remedies that may help quickly relieve your itchy scalp include:

  • essential oils, such as coconut, tea tree, and peppermint
  • OTC shampoos that contain selenium sulfide, zinc pyrithione, salicylic acid, or ketoconazole

Scalp itch, or pruritus, is a common complaint that may be caused by several skin conditions.

It can often be treated at home with remedies like meditation, essential oils, or OTC shampoos. However, you may require medical treatment.

Speak with a doctor if your symptoms don’t improve after 1 week. They’ll be able to develop a treatment plan that’s best for you.

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