The itching is a symptom, not a condition
There it is again – that tingling feeling up top. How good would it feel to just reach up and rake your fingernails across that scalp of yours a few times? But you don’t dare because once you start, it’s so hard to stop. As Harvard-trained dermatologist, Dr Khalil A. Khatri admits, “Once you get into the “itch-scratch-itch cycle, it’s difficult to get out of it.” It’s vexing when your head itches not only because it’s so hard not to scratch, but also because it’s usually a symptom of something else. So what does it mean when your head itches? Fear not. There are many reasons for your itchy scalp, we were assured by Dana R Brewer, a physician’s assistant with a specialty in dermatology, and most of them are a cinch to treat.
OK, let’s just get this one out of the way. Let’s say you’ve got school-age kids, and you find yourself asking, “Why does my scalp itch?” Is there any way you’re not going to wonder if it’s head lice? Head lice are tiny bugs that attach themselves to body hair, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Head lice can be seen in the form of eggs, aka nits, along the hair shaft,” explains associate clinical professor of dermatology Dr Rhonda Q. Klein. Although the nits can be confused with dandruff, when you see adult lice moving around your head, that’s unmistakable. “You can use physical methods to remove the lice,” Dr Klein says, “and you can try natural lice shampoos and natural lice removers, “although what you’ll probably end up needing to eradicate a lice infestation is an actual “insecticide like pyrethrin and permethrin,” depending on resistance patterns in your area. “Shaving the head is also an easy solution for boys.”
If it’s not lice, you might wish it were when you learn about scabies, which according to Dr Khatri can cause itching not just on the scalp but also on the entire body. Scabies on the scalp isn’t common, and it usually affects those with compromised immune systems.
Scabies are an infestation of the “human itch mite” (aka sarcoptes scabiei var. hominis). The scabies mites burrow into the upper layer of the skin, where they live and deposit their eggs, according to the CDC. The microscopic scabies mite almost always gets passed along by direct, prolonged, skin-to-skin contact with a person who already is infested. Scabies in adults frequently is sexually acquired, although it can also be spread without sexual contact in crowded conditions, including households, nursing homes, extended-care facilities, child-care facilities and prisons.