An itchy scalp, by itself, is a major concern for many men and women when it comes to skin issues. But, when hair loss is added to this concern, the problem becomes even more troublesome. Itchy scalp and hair loss are indirectly related and can be caused due to multiple reasons which makes it intimidating to deal with. However, the solution to the problem is fairly simple and lies in identifying and proceeding with a holistic treatment for both itchy scalp and hair loss. The loss of hair can be reversed to a great extent with additional treatments under the supervision of an experienced dermatologist.
Connection Between Itchy Scalp And Hair Loss
Scalp or the skin covering the head is as sensitive as the skin on rest of the body. It can get damaged and deformed due to innumerable reasons. And itchiness can further aggravate the condition even leading upto hair loss. The connection between an itchy scalp and hair loss lies in the incessant scratching that people resort to soothe the itching. This can damage the hair follicles and make your hair fall out in more numbers than normal. Hair thinning and hair loss can be triggered due to itchy scalp. In some cases, the cause of the itchiness can also create flakes or plaques on the scalp that block the hair follicles and impair normal hair growth. Hair can shed in higher numbers under such circumstances too.
Can Itchy Scalp Cause Hair Loss?
Yes, itchy scalp can lead to hair loss in both men and women. The underlying cause of the itching sensation may be different in each case and this affects the degree to which the itchy scalp causes hair loss.
Causes Of Itchy Scalp Which Leads To Hair Loss
The causes are numerable as there are many skin issues or concerns that can lead to the scalp skin becoming sensitized to the extent of being itchy and bothersome. Additionally, the different causes of itchy scalp also entail different levels of hair loss and hair thinning may also be seen with it. The common causes are –
1- Dandruff – The most common reason for an itchy scalp is dandruff. The hair is greasier than usual and there are flakes present on the scalp that become prominent on dark hair and even fall off on clothes. The dandruff and oily skin can cause blockage in hair follicles thus prompting people to scratch the same causing damage to hair roots. Dandruff gives rise to itchy scalp related hair loss is males more than it does in females.
2- Seborrheic dermatitis – Often confused with dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis is a skin condition that causes the skin to become flaky accompanied with redness and lesions. It can affect any part of the body, but when it affects the scalp, it can cause itchiness along with the other symptoms. Hair loss from this red, itchy scalp is fairly common and can even lead to serious bald patches forming on the scalp.
3- Psoriasis – This is an autoimmune disorder that can affect the skin on the scalp (apart from other areas of the body) and cause the formation of patches or plaques that are white or silvery in colour. Often, psoriasis patches are itchy and need to be gently removed to promote healing of the skin. When excess pressure is applied due to scratching, the itchy, flaky scalp can cause hair loss.
4- Ringworm – Tinea capitis or ringworm of the hair can make the scalp itchy at the site of the infection. Rings with raised bumps on the edges are formed and make the affected skin dry and itchy. This itchy scalp with bumps experiences hair loss, forming empty patches on the head. The fungal infection damages the hair roots and makes the hair to fall off prematurely.
5- Folliculitis – This is one of the less common reasons for itchy scalp and hair loss, but it is nevertheless seen in a few cases. The itchy scalp develops red pimples due to an infection of the hair follicles. This skin affliction does not directly result in hair fall, but scratching of the itchy scalp with red bumps can lead to hair loss.
6- Hormonal imbalance – Itchy scalp can also occur due to thyroid hormone imbalance or due to reproductive hormones that fluctuate in women’s body due to different reasons (pregnancy, post pregnancy, menopause, etc.) Thus, this cause is commonly seen as the reason for itchy scalp related hair loss in females.
7- Allergic reactions – When chemical products such as hair dyes, hair gels, hairspray and mousse do not suit your skin, they can cause an allergic reaction. Rapid hair loss can occur due to the itchy scalp as part of the allergic reaction by the body.
Apart from these, there are many other causes of itchy scalp and hair fall, such as –
• Head lice infestation
• Improper hair care routine, like not washing hair regularly, can cause itchy, smelly scalp also resulting in hair loss
• Environmental factors such as cold temperatures causing the scalp skin to become dry and itchy or high humidity levels leading to itchy or oily scalp and eventually to hair loss
• Skin cancer can cause itchy scalp and sudden hair loss
• Traction alopecia from tight hairstyles such as ponytails and buns can cause itchy scalp and hair loss
• Lichen planopilaris is a skin condition that can cause redness and bumps associated with itchy scalp and hair loss
Stress from dealing with any of the above concerns can trigger the hair follicles to enter the shedding stage of the hair growth cycle and increase hair fall.
Treatment For Itchy Scalp Related Hair Loss?
To treat itchy scalp and hair loss associated with it, the first step is to treat the cause of the itchiness. Homemade treatments and over the counter products do not provide satisfactory results because you cannot detect the actual cause of the itchy scalp at home. An experienced and knowledgeable dermatologist is the ideal person to examine your scalp and your symptoms, so that an appropriate analysis can be done and the main cause of the itchy sore or dry scalp, leading to hair loss can be established.
1- Once this cause is known, the applicable course of treatment with medicated shampoos, creams or lotions, and antimicrobial medications as prescribed, can be initiated. Once these start to show their effect, the itching sensation will be alleviated and the hair will begin to grow normally to a modest extent.
2- Apart from this treatment, the dermatologist may also prescribe certain topical medications for the scalp that will aid to cure the hair loss caused by the itchy scalp. Minoxidil and finasteride are USFDA approved medications that are used worldwide to reduce hair fall and enhance hair growth in men and women. The dosage and suitability of these is decided by the dermatologist based on the gender of the patient and the individual condition.
3- To further improve the recovery process, PRP therapy can be administered. PRP or platelet rich plasma treatment is an advanced and effective solution that works well to treat different types of hair loss. It uses patients own blood extracted from arms, then put to centrifuge and activated platelets are then injected back into the areas pf scanty growth on the scalp. These act as delivery agents of important growth factors for the hair to return to normalcy as soon as possible. Empty patches on the scalp and hair thinning can be treated with a few sessions of PRP treatment.
Tips To Prevent Itchy Scalp
Itchy scalp and the associated hair loss can be prevented in many cases by following these tips –
1) Wash your hair regularly – two to three times a week is ideal.
2) Do not share your comb or hair brush with anybody. Make sure to wash them with an antimicrobial soap or liquid from time to time.
3) Do not scratch your scalp while rinsing your scalp or if you are experiencing high itchiness. In case of extreme itch, consult a dermatologist at the earliest.
4) Avoid excessive use of hair products such as hair dyes and gels.
5) Skip allergens in food by avoiding items that cause allergic reactions in your case.
6) Avoid using hair dryers as they can easily make your scalp dry and itchy. Let your hair dry naturally.
7) Eat a healthy and well balanced diet.
Itchy scalp and hair loss are connected indirectly. Finding the cause of the itchiness is the first step towards treating the associated hair loss. Reach out to an expert dermatologist if the itching continues irrespective of a health and hygienic hair care routine. It is best to act early and alleviate the underlying causes of itchy scalp, so that long term damage to the hair follicles can be prevented.