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Aug 29 2011

Ask Bubbe: Itchy Scalps

By at 11:19 am

Dear Bubbe,

Any advice for an extremely itchy, lice-free scalp?

Chani

Hi Chani,

This question is for Dr. Bubbe I see! Hmm, lice-free itchy scalp; does this mean there was a lice problem which has been treated? Some treatments can dry out and irritate the scalp. Now the less irritant treatments are based on using hair conditioner applied thickly to smother the lice rather than insecticide to nuke them.

Child or adult? Is this itchy scalp incarcerated by a sheitel in the hot weather? Mild shampoo, lemon juice or apple cider vinegar rinse and maybe a light loosely woven snood or scarf may help until the weather cools.

Generally dry skins and scalps are also itchy, so finding the right shampoo is important. Sometimes it is the sodium laureth sulfate foaming additive which can trigger itch so try another brand. T-gel shampoo by Neutrogena with coal tar derivatives can help with an irritated scalp. And if there is really a lot of irritation,  a cortisone-containing lotion can be used for a few days to settle it before using a really mild shampoo.

Have a good look for scaling, flakiness, redness, or other abnormalities.  Fungal infections aren’t rare in kids and need specific antifungal treatment.  Sometimes a trigger can set up an itch but scratching will cause further irritation, skin can be damaged, and the more you scratch, the more you itch, etc. A gentle acidifying rinse–like dilute apple cider vinegar 1:4 in warm water–will give rapid relief. Other helpful home remedies include chamomile and rosemary infusion as a rinse. Direct application of lemon juiceis another thing to try.

Ok, so there a few things to try but I personally am a fan of the T-gel.

If these simple ideas don’t help, see your doctor as there are other conditions in adults which can cause a dry itchy scalp such as low functioning thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) usually in context of other symptoms.

But it’s more likely to be something simple so don’t panic.

Good luck!

Bubbe


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