The Many Causes of Scalp Itching



Scalp itching (Scalp pruritus)

Every new patient I see gets asked about scalp itching. It's a useful question because it leads me down a pathway of additional questions, especially to determine if there is also scalp burning and scalp pain.

There are a very large number of causes of scalp itching, sometimes referred to as scalp pruritus. Most of the time, the causes are not associated with hair loss but rather a coincidence. However, one needs to quickly work through a series of questions to get to the final answer - "You're scalp itching is nothing to worry about"

Causes of Scalp Itching

In general there are about 100 reasons to have scalp itching. The top 20 or so include (in no particular order):


Seborrheic dermatitis

dandruff (pityriasis capitis)




fungal infections

allergic contact dermatitis

irritant contact dermatitis

stress and anxiety

head lice

lichen planopilaris


discoid lupus

folliculitis decalvans

alopecia areata

telogen effluvium


injury and trauma

autoimmune conditions

bacterial folliculitis

shingles / zoster

systemic illness


In fact, the list doesn't stop there, just this blog. If one has scalp itching, a careful examination of the scalp is needed and a series of fairly detailed questions. 

Dr. Jeff Donovan is a Canadian and US board certified dermatologist specializing exclusively in hair loss. To schedule a consultation, please call the Whistler office at 604.283.1887

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