Skip to main content
ASK AN EXPERT
Got a question about a health story in the news or a health topic? Here's your chance to get an answer. Send us your questions about general health topics, diet and fitness and mental health. If your question is chosen, it could be featured on CNN.com's health page with an answer from one of our health experts, or by a participant in the CNNhealth community.




* CNN encourages you to contribute a question. By submitting a question, you agree to the following terms found below.
You may not post any unlawful, threatening, libelous, defamatory, obscene, pornographic or other material that would violate the law. By submitting your question, you hereby give CNN the right, but not the obligation, to post, air, edit, exhibit, telecast, cablecast, webcast, re-use, publish, reproduce, use, license, print, distribute or otherwise use your questions(s) and accompanying personal identifying and other information you provide via all forms of media now known or hereafter devised, worldwide, in perpetuity. CNN Privacy Statment.
Thank you for your question!

It will be reviewed and considered for posting on CNNHealth.com. Questions and comments are moderated by CNN and will not appear until after they have been reviewed and approved. Unfortunately, because of the voume of questions we receive, not all can be posted.

Submit another question or Go back to CNNHealth.com

Read answers from our experts: Living Well | Diet & Fitness | Mental Health | Conditions

Expert Q&A

  • Share this on:
    Share
  • E-mail
  • Save
  • Print

Why is my scalp so itchy?

Asked by Cindy, St. Louis, Missouri

Open quote
Close quote

My scalp has been itching really bad for about two months. I don't have lice or a flaky scalp; it's not even red. Any idea what would cause this?

Expert Bio Picture

Living Well Expert Dr. Jennifer Shu Pediatrician,
Children's Medical Group

Expert answer:

Thanks for your question. While your physician would be the best one to make a diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatment, I consulted with Dr. Jeffrey Benabio, a dermatologist in San Diego, California, and author of the Derm Blog, for general information about itchy scalps. He shared the following:

Itchy scalp can be a frustrating problem. There are several things that can cause it. Dandruff is the most common. Dandruff is caused by overgrowth of yeast on your scalp. The yeast triggers inflammation and itching. It usually causes flaking, but not always. When the scalp is red and flaky from dandruff, we often call it seborrheic dermatitis, but the cause is the same.

Allergic contact dermatitis is also a common cause of itchy scalp. Sometimes, people develop an allergy to their hair color or to their shampoo, conditioner or hair products. This is often intensely itchy and sometimes spreads to the back of your neck or your back (depending on the length of your hair).

Inflammation of the hair follicles or bacterial infection of the scalp can also cause itching. Usually, people with this problem have acne-like bumps or pustules in the affected areas.

Other causes of itchy scalp are uncommon. Inflammatory and hair loss conditions of the scalp are rare but can also cause itching. There are many of them; discoid lupus and hot comb alopecia are two examples. They always have areas of obvious hair loss.

Systemic, or whole body, diseases can sometimes cause scalp itching. Common diseases such as psoriasis and rare conditions such as dermatomyositis can cause itchy scalp. Both also cause redness and flaking.

Sometimes, frankly, we just don't know what causes the itching. Washing your hair too infrequently is more likely a problem than washing too much, as the scalp rarely dries out. Using anti-dandruff shampoos two or three times a week and over-the-counter anti-itching treatments such as Scalpicin usually relieves the problem.

More Q&A

  • CNN's Medical UnitCNN's medical unit brings you the best experts available to answer your questions about current events and health issues that matter most to you.
What are the potential problems with ovarian cysts?asked by: Asked by Jane Coles; Virginia
Why do I no longer need an antibiotic before teeth cleaning?asked by: Asked by Janet; Leeds
How frequently should a man urinate daily?asked by: Asked by Brian; Canada

CNN Comment Policy: CNN encourages you to add a comment to this discussion. You may not post any unlawful, threatening, defamatory, obscene, pornographic or other material that would violate the law. All comments should be relevant to the topic and remain respectful of other authors and commenters. You are solely responsible for your own comments, the consequences of posting those comments, and the consequences of any reliance by you on the comments of others. By submitting your comment, you hereby give CNN the right, but not the obligation, to post, air, edit, exhibit, telecast, cablecast, webcast, re-use, publish, reproduce, use, license, print, distribute or otherwise use your comment(s) and accompanying personal identifying and other information you provide via all forms of media now known or hereafter devised, worldwide, in perpetuity. CNN Privacy Statement.

The information contained on this page does not and is not intended to convey medical advice. CNN is not responsible for any actions or inaction on your part based on the information that is presented here. Please consult a physician or medical professional for personal medical advice or treatment.