Listerine is best known as an antiseptic mouthwash, but it can also serve another purpose. It often soothes an itchy scalp, thanks to the fixed mixture of chemical constituents in its four essential oils, namely eucalyptol, menthol, methyl salicylate and thymol. The manufacturer notes these same ingredients also kill germs in your mouth, leaving you with cleaner teeth and fresher breath.
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An itchy scalp often comes from the ongoing skin condition of dandruff, which leaves your scalp dry and flaky. Dandruff is neither contagious nor life-threatening, but it can be unsightly and uncomfortable. Dandruff has a variety of causes, including a reaction to hair products, not shampooing frequently enough and dry skin. An itchy scalp can also come about from a buildup of sweat and oil, which produces bacteria, common with dreadlocks, hair weaves and extensions that don’t let you brush, wash or otherwise stimulate your scalp.
A number of skin conditions can also result in an itchy scalp and dandruff, including an itchy, usually allergic-based skin rash, eczema, as well as psoriasis, in which dead skin cells accumulate in thick, itchy patches. Seborrheic dermatitis, which results in flaky scales over oily, red skin, also leads to itchiness of the scalp.
While one of the typical treatments for an itchy scalp is a medicated shampoo, Listerine is a remedy recommended by both the Health 911 and Straight to the Root websites. The mouthwash kills off built-up bacteria and is best used on mild dandruff or itchiness caused by shampoo or oil. Listerine’s antiseptic properties are too harsh for extreme dandruff or dry scalp with broken skin or open lesions.
Don’t pour a whole bottle of Listerine on your head; instead, dab or spray it on, Straight to the Root advises. If you want to keep your hair dry, saturate a cotton swab in Listerine and dab in directly onto your scalp. If you don't mind your hair getting wet, put the mouthwash in a spray bottle and apply it to your hair. Do not dilute the Listerine -- always use it full strength.
Since the antiseptic properties of Listerine are the qualities that soothe the itchy scalp, opt for Listerine original mouthwash or a variation that contains the ingredients you need. Listerine's fixed combination of four chemicals derived from essential oils makes up the active ingredients that do the trick, although they comprise only a small part of the overall mouthwash. Listerine's essential oil combination consists of 0.092 percent eucalyptol, 0.042 percent menthol, 0.060 percent methyl salicylate and 0.064 percent thymol.