There's nothing more irritating than an itchy scalp. While reaching for pricey, chemical-laden products may offer temporary relief, there may be a better option. Natural remedies are easily accessible, cheaper, and safer for topical use – and you most likely already have some of them at home already! Plus, conventional hair care products often contain harsh chemicals that strip away your scalp’s natural oils resulting in dryness. When used over time, harsh products can possibly exacerbate the problem. On the other hand, natural remedies provide more gentle yet effective relief. From essential oils to organic ingredients, we've researched dozens of natural remedies to soothe an itchy scalp. Say farewell to dry and scaly patches, dandruff, and itchiness with our top 5 natural remedies for itchy scalp that you can try at home today!
Common Causes of Itchy Scalp
An itchy scalp, scientifically known as scalp pruritus, is a common condition that can range in severity levels. Sometimes an itchy scalp can be linked to scalp conditions like psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis. But an itchy scalp can also occur without the presence of any noticeable lesions or an obvious diagnosis.
Some common reasons for having an itchy scalp include:
- Psoriasis. Psoriasis is a common skin condition consisting of itchy, scaly patches on the skin, and it typically requires a diagnosis.
- Seborrheic dermatitis. Seborrheic dermatitis also requires a diagnosis, and it’s a skin condition that causes inflamed, scaly patches.
- Dandruff. Scientifically known as Malassezia, dandruff is a condition where small pieces of dry skin flake off the scalp.
- Head lice. Scalp itching is a common sign of head lice, so it’s important to get checked right away if the itching has become persistent. Head lice should be treated right away to avoid getting worse or transferring to someone else.
5 Natural Remedies for Itchy Scalp
Natural remedies are a great alternative to finding relief from an itchy scalp no matter the severity. Let’s dive into 5 of the best natural remedies for itchy scalp.
1. Aloe Vera
Known for its skin-soothing, anti-inflammatory properties, aloe vera can be beneficial for relieving an itchy scalp. Although, it’s always best to get your aloe vera straight from the leaf instead of the bottle if possible. Over time, aloe vera loses its medicinal properties, so fresh aloe vera will always be the most beneficial. When used on the scalp, aloe vera is both hydrating and soothing for anyone experiencing an itchy scalp, dry scalp, or irritation.
How to use it:
- Prepare the aloe. If you choose to buy aloe vera that’s in a bottle, you can skip this step. If you’re using a fresh aloe vera leaf, you need to scrape the aloe from the leaf. Then, blend it until it reaches a smooth consistency.
- Apply the aloe mask. Once you’ve prepared your aloe, apply it directly to your scalp. To efficiently apply it to the entire scalp, it’s easiest to divide your hair into sections.
- Massage the aloe into your scalp. Using circular motions, gently massage the aloe vera into your scalp using your fingertips. The key here is to only use your fingertips, as using your nails will only further irritate the scalp.
- Let the mask do its thing. After the aloe is thoroughly massaged into the scalp, all that’s left to do is wait! We recommend leaving it in for 15 to 20 minutes, but you can let it sit for up to 1 hour for maximum relief.
- Rinse and shampoo the aloe out. The last step is removing the aloe from your scalp. To ensure the residue from the aloe is completely gone, shampoo your hair twice and condition the ends of your hair as normal.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
Best known for its digestive health benefits, apple cider vinegar is widely known for its numerous medicinal properties. But did you know that it can also be greatly beneficial for relieving an itchy scalp? That’s right – apple cider vinegar is an anti-fungal, so it may help with dandruff caused by yeast build-up on the scalp. The National Psoriasis Foundation states that applying apple cider vinegar to the scalp a few times a week can help soothe an itchy scalp. This method shouldn’t be used if you have open lesions or cracked skin, as ACV can cause an irritating burning sensation.
How to use it:
- Prepare the apple cider vinegar. Since apple cider vinegar is such a potent ingredient, you should dilute it with warm water using a 1:1 ratio.
- Apply the ACV mixture to the scalp. Parting your hair into sections, apply the apple cider vinegar and water mixture to the scalp.
- Let the mixture dry on the scalp. After the mixture has covered the entire scalp, let it sit for at least 10 minutes – or until it has become dry.
- Rinse out with warm water. The final step is to rinse the apple cider vinegar mixture out of your scalp and hair. To remove all of the residue, it’s always best to do a double shampoo after rinsing.
3. Coconut Oil
You’ve probably seen coconut oil as a popular ingredient in many hair, skin, and nail products – and there’s a good reason for this! Its hydrating properties lock moisture into the skin for long-lasting skin hydration. The key ingredient in coconut oil that makes it so beneficial is called lauric acid. It’s a saturated fat packed with tons of antimicrobial properties that can help prevent excessive dandruff. Since dry scalp and dandruff are common causes of itchy scalp, coconut oil can make for an ultra-soothing natural remedy.
How to use it:
- Prepare the coconut oil. To apply it efficiently, you’ll want to melt down your coconut oil until it reaches a liquid consistency. Feel free to use your microwave or stovetop for this step – a few tablespoons should be enough.
- Apply the coconut oil to your scalp. After your coconut is cooled down (but still liquefied), use your fingertips to apply the oil to your entire scalp. Parting your hair into sections will make this process faster. Massage the coconut oil into your scalp. Once the coconut oil is on your scalp, gently massage it with your fingertips using circular motions. Remember to avoid using your fingernails to avoid further irritation.
- Apply to the rest of your hair (optional). If you have extra coconut oil, run it through the ends of your hair. This will add extra hydration, as coconut oil acts as a deep conditioner. Let the coconut oil sit. Let the coconut oil soak into your scalp and hair strands for 15 to 20 minutes. For maximum hydration, it can sit for up to 1 hour.
- Rinse and shampoo. Once you’ve let the coconut oil sit for the desired amount of time, rinse and shampoo it out. It can be difficult to get all of the residue out, so make sure to shampoo twice. To ensure the product fully saturates the hair and scalp, we recommend using a scalp brush. This brush exfoliates the scalp and removes buildup at the same time, making it a great tool to add to your hair care routine!
4. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is best used for treating itchy scalp conditions like dry spots or dandruff. Due to its antifungal properties, tea tree oil is used to treat dandruff and flaky scalp patches – two common symptoms of itchy scalp. Since tea tree oil is so potent, it’s always important to dilute it before applying it anywhere on the skin. The easiest way to do this is by adding a few drops to your shampoo.
How to use it:
- Add tea tree oil to the shampoo. When washing your hair, add a few drops of tea tree oil to the shampoo in your hands. Then, lather the shampoo into your hair and scalp as your normally would.
- Let it sit (optional). If you have time, let the shampoo sit on your scalp for 3 to 5 minutes before rinsing it out.
- Rinse the shampoo out. The last step is simply rinsing the shampoo out of your hair with lukewarm water and continuing with your hair care routine as usual.
5. Peppermint Oil
Peppermint oil contains a cooling ingredient called menthol that can be helpful in soothing itchy scalp. Specifically, peppermint oil is beneficial in treating dandruff and scaly/flaky patches on the scalp. Just like other essential oils, peppermint oil should always be diluted instead of being used directly on the scalp. The best and easiest way to do this is by using it in combination with your shampoo.
How to use it:
- Add peppermint oil to the shampoo. Add a few drops of peppermint oil to your shampoo in your hands. Then, lather the shampoo into your hair and scalp using your fingertips.
- Let it sit (optional). If you have time, let the shampoo sit on your scalp for 3 to 5 minutes for extra added relief before rinsing it out.
- Rinse the shampoo out. All that’s left to do is rinse the shampoo out of your hair and continue on with the rest of your hair care routine.
Best Products for Itchy Scalp
For moderate to severe itchy scalp, natural remedies may not cure your irritation by themselves. In this case, using a shampoo created for scalp conditions can make a significant impact in relieving an itchy scalp. Dandruff shampoos improve conditions like seborrheic dermatitis, dandruff, and scaly patches. The most common ingredients you'll see in most dandruff shampoos are zinc pyrithione, salicylic acid, and ketoconazole. Jupiter’s Balancing Shampoo is an effective dandruff shampoo that relieves itchy scalp. Thanks to its key ingredient, zinc pyrithione, this shampoo is clinically proven to reduce flaky and scaly patches on the scalp when used 3 to 4 times a week.
What Natural Remedies Not to Use for Itchy Scalp
There are hundreds of natural remedies out there that you’ll find. But when it comes to your skin, there are some ingredients that you’ll want to stay away from. Having an itchy scalp often means you experience some sensitivity and irritation, as well. So, using any of these ingredients can potentially cause further irritation:
- Lemon juice. Lemon juice should not be used on your scalp, as it can be highly irritating and cause increased inflammation.
- Baking soda water. Baking soda water mixtures have antifungal properties, but they’re often way too harsh for the scalp. While this may help for short-term or mild itchy scalp, it’s best to avoid this one if you can.
- Undiluted potent ingredients. Ingredients like vinegar and essential oils should only be used on the scalp if they’re diluted properly. In their pure forms, they can be highly irritating and way too strong for topical use on the scalp.
Let’s Wrap This Up
Natural remedies are an effective solution to soothe your itchy scalp without harsh chemicals. Using plant extracts and oils, these remedies tackle the root cause of scalp itchiness to provide long-lasting relief. With our top 5 natural remedies, you can soon be on your way to a happy, healthy scalp. And if natural remedies aren't doing the job, try using a dandruff shampoo either by itself or in combination with one of the remedies above. Our recommended combination for keeping a happy and healthy scalp is the Jupiter Flake-Free Duo. It’s a dandruff shampoo combined with an ultra-hydrating conditioner for long-lasting itch relief. Interested in more helpful tips and insights? Browse through the Love Health blog here.