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What Are the Treatments for a Burning & Itching Scalp?

author image Jon Mohrman
Jon Mohrman has been a writer and editor for more than seven years. He specializes in food, travel and health topics. He attended the University of Pittsburgh for English literature and San Francisco State University for creative writing.
What Are the Treatments for a Burning & Itching Scalp?
The right shampoo can help soothe a burning, itchy scalp. Photo Credit shampoos and shaving foam lined up image by Georgios Alexandris from Fotolia.com


A burning and itching scalp can result from any number of inflammatory skin conditions, such as dandruff, fungal infection, psoriasis or eczema. It may also be a reaction to hair styling or hygiene products. Some causes require specific treatments, so seek diagnosis from a dermatologist. There are general remedies for symptoms of burning and itching, however, on the scalp that should help regardless of the cause.

Dandruff Shampoos

Daily shampooing can relieve burning and itching on the scalp, especially when it stems from dandruff. Opt for a coal tar-based shampoo, as it is well-suited to a number of conditions, including dandruff and scalp psoriasis. Shampoos containing salicylic acid, zinc pyrithione, ciclopirox, ketoconazole or other antifungal ingredients may help treat scalp symptoms as well, according to the New Zealand Dermatological Society. For a natural remedy, try a shampoo made with tea tree oil, says CNN Health.

Over-the-Counter Medications

A 1 percent hydrocortisone cream, available over the counter, works to soothe burning and itching in many cases. Other topical steroids, such as those available as foams or lotions can help as well, and are available in prescription strength or over the counter. Non-prescription non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, provide relief in many mild cases, too. Antihistamines, typically used for treating allergies, also sometimes reduce burning and itching on the scalp.

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Eliminating Irritation

In certain cases, simply eliminating the source of irritation or inflammation will remedy burning and itching on the scalp. Cease use of your hair styling products to see if the symptoms go away. Switch to styling products, shampoos, and detergents without fragrances or dyes, as these are common irritants, notes Columbia University. If you wash your scalp with soap, stop; this cleansing method removes necessary oils from the scalp, promoting irritation. Scratching an itchy scalp further irritates the condition, so should be avoided. If you have problems with a child who won't stop scratching, keep his nails trimmed and put gloves on him overnight.

Other Treatments to Soothe Your Scalp

A cold compress may provide relief from burning and itching. Soak your head in lukewarm bath water with a few pinches of colloidal oatmeal or baking soda sprinkled in. Olive oil may help as well by massaging it into the scalp and leaving it there for about 10 minutes prior to rinsing it out in the shower. Spending some time in the sun or using more controlled forms of phototherapy can ease inflammation on the scalp and subsequent burning and itching, too.

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