How to Naturally Calm and Avoid an Itchy Scalp: Effective Herbal Remedies and Care Tips

How to Naturally Calm and Avoid an Itchy Scalp: Effective Herbal Remedies and Care Tips

An itchy scalp can be more than just a nuisance; it can affect your overall comfort, confidence, and even your mental well-being. Understanding how to effectively calm and prevent an itchy scalp using natural remedies and scalp care tips is essential for maintaining a healthy scalp and healthy hair. This comprehensive guide will explore the common causes of an itchy scalp, natural remedies for relief, and preventative measures to keep your scalp itch-free. We'll also highlight advice from dermatologists and studies that support these methods.

Key Takeaways

  • Top natural ingredients for soothing scalp itchiness include tea tree oil, aloe vera, neem, lavender, peppermint, and coconut oil. Hypoallergenic products are recommended.
  • Preventive measures involve selecting the right hair care products, maintaining a regular scalp care routine, and managing external factors like weather and pollution.
  • Dietary adjustments to promote scalp health and overall skin wellness.


What Causes an Itchy Scalp?

Common Causes

Several factors can contribute to an itchy scalp, ranging from common skin conditions to environmental influences, to your haircare routine. Dandruff, psoriasis, and dermatitis are prevalent conditions causing scalp itchiness. Environmental factors such as weather and pollution can exacerbate these conditions, while hair care products and hygiene habits also play significant roles.


Dandruff is characterized by flaking of the scalp skin and can lead to persistent itchiness. It's often caused by an overgrowth of a yeast-like fungus called Malassezia, which thrives in oily environments. Dandruff is extremely common. There is “a prevalence of dandruff of up to 50% in the general population” according to the following study

Dandruff can be exacerbated by factors such as stress, hormonal changes, and an unhealthy diet. Ensuring a balanced diet rich in nutrients can help manage dandruff effectively. Additionally, avoiding stress through relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation can also contribute to a healthier scalp.





Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition that leads to the rapid build-up of skin cells, forming scales and red patches that can be itchy and sometimes painful. The National Psoriasis Foundation states that scalp psoriasis can affect up to 50% of individuals with psoriasis, causing significant discomfort and irritation. Managing psoriasis involves a multifaceted approach that includes medical treatments, lifestyle changes, and natural remedies.

Dietary changes can also play a significant role in managing psoriasis. Incorporating anti-inflammatory foods such as turmeric, ginger, and green tea can help reduce symptoms. Additionally, maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can also improve psoriasis symptoms.





Contact dermatitis occurs when the scalp reacts to certain substances, causing inflammation and itching. Common irritants include hair dyes, shampoos, and other hair care products. One study concluded that “hair products specifically represent a significant source of potential allergens, including preservatives, surfactants, emulsifiers, fragrances, adhesives, and dyes.” 

Individuals with sensitive skin should be cautious about the ingredients in their hair care products. Opting for hypoallergenic and fragrance-free products can help minimize the risk of contact dermatitis. Regularly patch-testing new products before full application can also prevent adverse reactions.


Contact Dermatitis on the hand


Environmental Factors

Weather conditions, such as extreme cold or heat, can dry out the scalp, leading to itchiness. Pollution can also contribute by depositing irritants on the scalp. The American Academy of Dermatology highlights that environmental factors play a crucial role in scalp health, especially for individuals living in urban areas with high pollution levels.

Protecting the scalp from environmental stressors involves practical steps such as wearing hats in extreme weather conditions, using gentle cleansers to remove pollutants, and maintaining a clean living environment. Installing air purifiers and humidifiers can also help reduce indoor pollutants and maintain optimal humidity levels, preventing scalp dryness.

Hair Care Products and Hygiene

Using hair care products with harsh chemicals or not properly rinsing shampoo can leave residues that irritate the scalp. Over-washing or infrequent washing can disrupt the natural oil balance, leading to scalp issues. Dr. Sanusi Umar, medical director and dermatologist at the Dr. U Hair & Skin Clinic, says that “since your skin and scalp are already sensitive, using products that contain alcohol and fragrances suck the moisture out of your hair. This will have your hair feeling frizzy, dry, and damaged and will result in inflammation that leaves you with a dry, itchy, irritated scalp.” (Source)

In addition to choosing the right products, maintaining proper hair hygiene practices is crucial. This includes not over-washing the hair, which can strip the scalp of its natural oils, and ensuring thorough rinsing to remove any product residues. Regularly cleaning hairbrushes and changing pillowcases can also help maintain a clean and healthy scalp environment.


Symptoms to Watch For

Recognizing the symptoms of an itchy scalp early on is crucial for seeking appropriate treatment or management strategies. Symptoms to watch for include:

  • Redness and inflammation: Indicating irritation or allergic reactions.
  • Flaking or scaling: Often associated with dandruff or psoriasis.
  • Persistent itchiness: Can be a sign of underlying conditions, or a skin allergy to a product.
  • Dry patches: Suggesting a lack of moisture or dermatitis.
  • Sensitivity or pain: May indicate an infection or more severe issue.

Identifying these symptoms early and taking appropriate action can prevent the progression of scalp conditions. Regular self-checks and maintaining awareness of changes in scalp health are essential for timely intervention.


Natural Cures for Relief

Herbal Treatments

Herbal remedies have been used for centuries to soothe various skin conditions, including scalp itchiness. Some of the most effective herbs for scalp health include tea tree, aloe vera, and neem.

Aloe Vera

Aloe vera is known for its soothing and moisturizing properties. It can reduce inflammation and provide relief from itching. One study notes that aloe vera is effective in the therapy of patients with an itchy scalp or dandruff.

Aloe vera gel can be applied directly to the scalp, providing instant relief from itching and irritation. It can also be mixed with other natural ingredients such as honey or apple cider vinegar to enhance its effectiveness. Regular use of aloe vera can help maintain scalp health and prevent dryness.


Aloe Vera



Neem oil has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, making it effective in treating scalp conditions like dandruff and psoriasis. It helps in soothing irritation and promoting overall scalp health. Although research on neem oil is limited, some older research found neem to be helpful in alleviating skin inflammation.

Neem oil can be applied directly to the scalp or mixed with other carrier oils. It is important to dilute neem oil properly to avoid any adverse reactions. Neem-based shampoos and conditioners are also available and can be used as part of a regular hair care routine.


Essential Oils

Essential oils are potent plant extracts that can provide significant relief for an itchy scalp when used correctly. It’s important to exercise caution when using essential oils, especially if you have sensitive skin. One study notes that “essential oils are thought to be natural and pure products, some of the most common being lavender, tea tree, peppermint, and ylang-ylang. Although essential oils are typically marketed as pure, it is important to realize that their formulation is complex, exposing the skin to numerous potential allergens. Increased use has led to increasing reports of allergic contact dermatitis (ACD), a delayed-type hypersensitivity reaction to allergens in sensitized individuals.”

Tea Tree

Tea tree oil has antifungal and antibacterial properties that can potentially help treat dandruff and reduce scalp irritation for some. Tea tree oil can be incorporated into your hair care routine by adding a few drops to your regular shampoo or using a specialized tea tree oil shampoo. It is important to patch test the oil before full application to ensure there is no allergic reaction. One study notes that “of all essential oils, tea tree oil has caused most (published) allergic reactions since the first cases were reported in 1991.”

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has moisturizing properties that can prevent dryness and flaking. It also has antimicrobial properties that can help treat scalp infections. “It works by decreasing transepidermal water loss, meaning that it stops water from evaporating from the top layer of skin,” Dr. Mona Gohara, MD, an associate clinical professor of dermatology at the Yale School of Medicine, explains. (Source)

Coconut oil can be applied directly to the scalp as a deep conditioning treatment. It can also be used as a base for other essential oils, enhancing their effectiveness. Regular use of coconut oil can improve scalp health, prevent dryness, and promote hair growth. Always patch test before trying a new oil on your skin or scalp. “Some people may develop allergic contact dermatitis [an allergic reaction], so it’s always best to patch test on a small part and use with caution,” say Marisa Garshick, MD, New York–based dermatologist and clinical assistant professor at Weill Cornell Medicine. (Source)


Coconut Oil


Dietary Adjustments

Diet plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy skin and scalp. Consuming foods rich in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties can improve scalp health.

Foods for Scalp Health

  • Fatty Fish: Rich in omega-3 fatty acids that reduce inflammation. Examples include salmon, mackerel, and sardines.
  • Nuts and Seeds: Packed with vitamins and minerals essential for healthy skin. Almonds, walnuts, and flaxseeds are great choices.
  • Fruits and Vegetables: High in antioxidants that protect the skin from damage. Berries, leafy greens, and bell peppers are excellent options.

Incorporating these foods into your diet can help maintain a healthy scalp and reduce the risk of itchiness and irritation. Drinking plenty of water is also essential for keeping the scalp hydrated and preventing dryness.

Anti-Inflammatory Diet

An anti-inflammatory diet can help reduce scalp irritation and promote overall skin health. This diet includes foods that are rich in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and other nutrients that reduce inflammation.

  • Leafy Greens: Spinach, kale, and Swiss chard are packed with vitamins and minerals that promote skin health.
  • Berries: Blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries are high in antioxidants that protect the skin from damage.
  • Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, walnuts, and chia seeds provide essential fatty acids that reduce inflammation.
  • Fatty Fish: Salmon, mackerel, and sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids that promote skin health.
  • Whole Grains: Brown rice, quinoa, and oats are high in fiber and nutrients that support overall health.

By incorporating these foods into your diet, you can reduce inflammation and improve scalp health. Avoiding processed foods, sugary drinks, and excessive alcohol can also help prevent scalp issues.


Preventative Measures

Choosing the Right Hair Care Products

Selecting gentle hair care products is essential for those with sensitive scalps. Look for products free of parabens and synthetic fragrances, which can irritate the scalp.

Tips for Selecting Products

  • Read labels carefully: Avoid products that contain many essential oils and fragrances.
  • Consider hypoallergenic products: Especially if you have a sensitive scalp.

Choosing the right hair care products also involves understanding your scalp type. Whether you have a dry, oily, or sensitive scalp, selecting products that cater to your specific needs can help maintain a healthy scalp and prevent irritation.


Regular Scalp Care Routine

Maintaining a regular scalp care routine can prevent itchiness and promote overall scalp health.

Cleaning Techniques

  • Wash your hair with lukewarm water: Hot water can strip natural oils from the scalp.
  • Use a mild shampoo and conditionerJust Shampoo by The Better Scalp Company is a dermatologist recommended shampoo that is non-medicated, gentle, and doesn't contain fragrance or essential oils.
  • Rinse thoroughly: To remove all product residues.

Proper cleaning techniques are essential for maintaining scalp health. Over-washing the hair can strip the scalp of its natural oils, leading to dryness and irritation. On the other hand, not washing the hair frequently enough can lead to the buildup of oils and dirt, causing scalp issues. Find a routine that works best for you, and stick with it.

Moisturizing and Massaging

  • Moisturize your scalp: With highly diluted natural oils or leave-in conditioners.
  • Regular scalp massages: To improve circulation and promote hair growth.

Scalp massages can be incorporated into your daily hair care routine. “The most important factor is the stimulation of the blood vessels when massaged”, says dermatologist Dr. Nina Roos. (Source) Gently massaging the scalp with your fingertips or a scalp massager can promote blood flow and provide some relaxation. Hair follicles receive more nutrients and oxygen when more blood flow is provided.


Scalp Massager


Managing External Factors

Environmental factors can have a significant impact on scalp health. Protecting your scalp from harsh weather conditions and pollution can prevent irritation.

Seasonal Care Tips

  • Winter: Use a humidifier to add moisture to the air and prevent scalp dryness.
  • Summer: Wear a hat to protect your scalp from UV rays and avoid overexposure to the sun.
  • Swimming: Wash your hair after swimming to remove chlorine or saltwater that can irritate the scalp.

Managing external factors also involves adapting your hair care routine to seasonal changes. During winter, the cold weather and indoor heating can lead to a dry scalp. Using a humidifier and moisturizing products can help maintain scalp health. In the summer, protecting your scalp from the sun and washing your hair after swimming can prevent damage and irritation.


When to See a Professional

Signs of Serious Scalp Conditions

While home remedies and preventative measures can be effective, some symptoms may indicate more serious scalp conditions requiring professional attention.

Symptoms to Watch For

  • Severe redness and swelling: Indicating possible infection or severe dermatitis.
  • Open sores or blisters: Could be a sign of an infection or other serious condition.
  • Intense itching that doesn't improve with home treatments: May require medical intervention.
  • Excessive hair loss: Could indicate an underlying health issue.

Dr. Francesca Fusco, a dermatologist with Wexler Dermatology in New York City advises, "If it is persistent, uncomfortable or persistently itchy, a visit to a dermatologist may be necessary to determine if it’s eczema, an allergy, seborrheic dermatitis or psoriasis." (Source)

Recognizing these symptoms and seeking professional help can prevent the progression of serious scalp conditions. Early intervention and proper treatment can improve outcomes and prevent long-term complications.


Professional Treatments

Consulting a dermatologist is essential for personalized treatment recommendations and managing chronic scalp conditions.

Medical Treatments

  • Topical Steroids: Used to reduce inflammation and treat conditions like psoriasis.
  • Antifungal Products: Effective for treating fungal infections like dandruff.
  • Prescription Medications: Necessary for severe or persistent scalp conditions.

Dermatologists can provide tailored treatment plans based on individual needs and the severity of the condition.

Professional treatments can include specialized shampoos, light therapy, and oral medications. Dermatologists can perform scalp biopsies and patch tests to determine the underlying cause of scalp conditions and develop an effective treatment plan.



Understanding and managing an itchy scalp is crucial for maintaining a healthy scalp and hair. By incorporating natural remedies and preventative measures into your routine, you can effectively calm and avoid an itchy scalp. Always consult a professional for serious scalp conditions to receive appropriate care. Integrating these tips will help you achieve a healthier, itch-free scalp, enhancing your overall well-being and confidence.

Maintaining a healthy scalp involves a holistic approach that includes proper hair care, dietary adjustments, and environmental management. By taking proactive steps and seeking professional help when needed, you can ensure long-term scalp health and prevent discomfort.


Itchy Scalp: Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best natural remedy for an extremely itchy scalp? Tea tree oil, aloe vera, neem, lavender, peppermint, and coconut oil are the top natural ingredients recommended for soothing scalp itchiness, provided you aren't allergic or sensitive to them.

How often should I wash my hair if my scalp is itchy? Maintaining proper hair hygiene is crucial, so avoid over-washing which can strip the scalp of its natural oils, and instead find a routine that keeps your scalp clean without causing dryness or irritation. Washing daily is OK, if that works best for you.

Can itchy scalp be a sign of hair growth? An itchy scalp can sometimes be associated with new hair growth, but it is more commonly a sign of underlying scalp conditions or allergies.

Can dietary changes really improve scalp health? Yes, incorporating anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-rich foods into your diet can significantly improve scalp health and reduce itchiness.

How often should I apply essential oils to my scalp? Essential oils should be used with caution and properly diluted; frequency of application can vary, but it’s best to patch test and follow guidelines for each specific oil, generally using them a few times a week.


Read our other blog posts below:

Why Do I Have Dandruff All of a Sudden and How to Get Rid of Them
What is the Cause of a Sensitive Scalp & How to Treat It Naturally
Is Fragrance in Shampoo Bad: Benefits and Concerns
Eczema On Head Under Hair: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment
The Top 100 Skin Allergens: A Guide to Sensitive Scalp Care
Are Natural Products Better for You? You'll be Surprised.