Have an itch that you just can’t scratch? Although scratching the skin or scalp to counter an itchy sensation can feel downright glorious, raking your nails over your flesh again and again to tackle chronic itchiness leads to a phenomenon called the itch-scratch-itch loop.
The Itch-Scratch Loop
Scratching an itch doesn’t relieve the itch per se, but replaces the sensation of itchiness with the sensation of pain. To our brains, pain is preferable to itch. When we scratch and experience pain, the brain responds by releasing the neurotransmitter serotonin to help alleviate the pain and provide us with some feel-good chemicals.
While this explains why scratching that itch can feel so darn pleasurable, this effect is short-lived. Just as scratching a bug bite can take away the itch temporarily, the itchy sensation soon returns and scratching it no longer feels near as good. Scientists have discovered that the brain’s serotonin response does inhibit pain and itch, but it also activates itch receptors in the brain leading to an endless itch-scratch cycle.
Itchy skin is all round uncomfortable but an itchy scalp is especially so. Scratching at your head can bring about skin infections, damaged hair, swelling, redness, and even bald patches in spots that you scour the most. Scratching at a dry scalp often leaves telltale traces of white flakes on your skin and clothing. And once you start scratching at your scalp it can be so hard to stop.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil, with its powerful natural antifungal, anti-inflammation and antibacterial properties, can be used to treat itchy scalp. You can use tea tree oil in various ways, for instance:
- You can add 10 to 20 drops of tea tree oil to one-half cup of baby shampoo and use it daily until the condition of your scalp improves.
- Another option is to dilute two or three drops of tea tree oil in one tablespoon of vegetable oil and massage the mixture onto your scalp. With regular use, this remedy will heal a dry, itchy scalp within a week or two.
Lemon juice will help treat an itchy and dry scalp because of its antiseptic properties. It is particularly useful when dealing with dandruff.
- You can simply apply fresh lemon juice thoroughly on the scalp. Leave it on for five minutes and then shampoo your hair. If you do not have dandruff, dilute the lemon juice in water.
- Alternately, you can mix lemon juice with yogurt and apply it on your scalp for a few minutes before washing your hair with a mild shampoo. Repeat at least daily until itchiness and dryness disappears.
Another readily available ingredient that can relieve an itchy scalp is baking soda. It helps relieve itching by exfoliating the scalp and controlling dandruff caused by overactive fungi.
- Make a paste with baking soda and water and apply it directly onto your scalp. For best results, rub some olive oil on your scalp before applying the baking soda paste.
- Allow it to soak into your scalp for 10 to 15 minutes and then rinse well with water.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has powerful anti-inflammation properties that help kill the yeast and virus that can cause itchy scalp. Also, apple cider vinegar balances the pH levels of the scalp, which may help relieve itching and dryness.
- Rinse your hair and scalp with water and allow it to dry.
- Mix equal amounts of apple cider vinegar and water and pour the mixture into a spray bottle. Apply this mixture directly onto your scalp with the help of cotton balls. Spray it on your scalp.
- After few minutes, shampoo with normal water.
Follow this remedy once or twice a week.
Aloe vera gel contains moisturizing properties, which may relieve excessive dryness and itching. If fresh aloe vera gel is not available, you can purchase the gel.
- Spread some fresh aloe vera gel onto your scalp using your fingers.
- Allow it to sit for 10 to 15 minutes and then wash your hair with a mild shampoo.
Coconut oil creates a barrier that helps keep skin moisturized and hence it is an effective way to treat an itchy scalp.
- Rub a little coconut oil onto the scalp after washing your hair your scalp when it is clean. Leave it on for at least half an hour and then wash it out with a perfume-free shampoo. Follow this simple remedy three times a week.
- Another option is to gently heat coconut oil so that it melts, add it to your shampoo before washing your hair.
If you like to eat bananas, you will be happy to know that it can also be used to treat an itchy scalp. Bananas will treat your itchy scalp while also conditioning your hair. The nourishing and moisturizing properties in bananas will also reduce flakes, dandruff and inflammation.
- Simply mash two bananas and mix them together with one ripe avocado.
- Apply this mixture to your scalp (and your hair if you want).
- Allow it to sit for half an hour and then rinse thoroughly.
Sesame Seed Oil
Sesame oil is highly nourishing, healing and lubricating, making it an effective treatment for a dry scalp and give you relief from itchiness.
- Heat some sesame oil to warm it slightly.
- Massage your scalp with the warm oil before going to bed each night. For best results, massage the scalp with your fingertips for at least 10 minutes, wrap your head in a hot towel and leave it on for about 10 minutes before going to bed. When this oil remains on the scalp all night, it provides optimum moisturizing.
- Shampoo and rinse your scalp and hair thoroughly in the morning. Continue this treatment as long as necessary.
Witch Hazel is a natural astringent that can help relieve itchy scalp. This herb is beneficial when you have an itchy scalp due to hair coloring and daily blow drying.
- Mix one part witch hazel with two parts water.
- Pour the mixture onto your scalp and massage thoroughly. Let it sit for a few minutes.
- Wash and rinse your hair and scalp thoroughly.
Jojoba oil is a great natural moisturizing treatment to relieve a dry and itchy scalp. The molecular structure of jojoba oil is closest to that of our own natural oil or sebum, which makes it a very effective rejuvenating and hydrating treatment.
- Massage a small amount of jojoba oil onto your scalp for a few minutes before going to bed. Leave it on overnight.
- In the morning, wash your hair with a mild shampoo.
Repeat this remedy once a week.
For best results with any of these remedies, follow them without fail for some time to completely treat the problem.