As you read this article, absentmindedly scratching your chin or head, consider whether you’re scratching because you’re deep in thought or because your skin is bothering you. If it’s the latter, you may be suffering from an itchy scalp.

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A red, itchy scalp can occur anytime, but rarely for no reason. Usually, the cause is something benign, but an itchy scalp can indicate something more severe. It’s usually worth trying to treat the condition at home. However, if the itch is intense, painful, lasts for more than a few days, and is accompanied by sores or hair loss, you should see your doctor.

Common Causes of Itchy Scalp

More often than not, your itchy, flaky scalp is caused by seborrheic dermatitis, better known as dandruff.

Dandruff results when naturally occurring yeasts eat what is made in the oil-producing glands in your skin. The glands are called the sebaceous glands and they make sebum. The byproduct of this oily buffet is an irritating molecule which causes the skin to become irritated, causing a dry, itchy scalp. You may experience red skin or scaling and skin flakes that flutter down from your scalp like freshly fallen snow on a cold winter’s day. Your shoulders are the landscape in this analogy.

If you have a mild rash instead of flakes, you may be experiencing an allergic reaction to your shampoo, hair dye, or some other hair care product. Try eliminating all of your products one by one until the condition clears. Then take the offending item and bury it deep in the woods where it can never cause trouble again.

Other less common causes of itchy scalp include insect infestations like lice and scabies, contact dermatitis, shingles, psoriasis, scarring alopecia, anxiety disorders, and ringworm. Fun fact! Ringworm isn’t actually a worm. It’s a fungus! And not the same fungus as the one that causes the dandruff flakes.

If you suspect there’s a deeper medical issue at work, consult with a physician.

How to Treat a Red, Itchy Scalp

Dandruff is easy to treat. An over-the-counter medicated shampoo like Happy Cappy Medicated Shampoo and Body Wash should clear up the condition. It contains pyrithione zinc, a doctor-recommended ingredient for to fight flaking and itching associated with dandruff. If an allergic reaction causes your dry, itchy scalp, you should consider switching to a hypoallergenic itchy scalp shampoo like Happy Cappy Daily Shampoo and Body Wash. Both products are free of the harsh, synthetic chemicals commonly found in personal hygiene products.

Fungal and insect infestations will not go away on their own. Talk to your physician about remedies for ringworm, lice, and scabies.

The Best Defense Against an Itchy Scalp Is a Good Offense

Try not to let oils build up on your scalp by washing your hair regularly. Once a day is adequate for most people.

And remember, you don’t need to set your shower temperature to scalding hot to get a good clean. When water is too hot, it can dry out your scalp. The shampoo does all the work. Warm water is all you need.

If you suspect dandruff, an allergic reaction, or just want a deep-cleansing shampoo that’s free of all the nasty stuff you don’t want in your hair care products, try Happy Cappy Medicated or Daily Shampoo and Body Wash. Your scalp will thank you. Your shoulders will thank you. It’s possible the entire world will thank you, but I wouldn’t get your hopes up.

[Suggest inserting interview video with captions on working the medicated shampoo into the scalp and leaving it there for a couple of minutes]