The scalp, thanks to its complex neural structure, is the most prone to itch. There can be many causes for which you feel like scratching your head. But fortunately, there are a few proven essential oils for itchy scalp that can relieve all related problems.
In this article, you’ll be reading about:
- A few things about how unique the scalp is and how essential oils can help.
- Some of the best essential oils to use for dry, itchy scalp and dandruff. All the oils have been chosen because of their proven antifungal and calming effects. Some are less popular in scalp treatment (Celery and Lemongrass). But others are very popular and for good reason (Rosemary and Tea Tree). Read their pros and cons to know how to use them safely.
- Best ways to use these aromatic oils for itchy scalp. With carrier oil suggestions for effective scalp oil treatments.
- Blend recipes to get rid of itchiness and dandruff and condition the hair at the same time.
- Facts you didn’t know about your scalp and what makes it itch. Plus tips to help you prevent this condition in the future.
Best Essential Oils for Itchy Scalp and Dandruff, plus Recipes
Most of us don’t know about the uniqueness of the scalp, and for good reason. We know it’s the same type of skin as with the rest of the body, which is true.
But it is also very different from the rest of the skin. The scalp is very well innervated, meaning it’s supplied with 4 different types of nerves. It is also very well vascularized, meaning it’s full of blood vessels.
These things make the scalp a lot more sensitive to all kinds of changes. These changes include:
- Bacterial or fungal infections,
- Hair growth cycles,
- Excess sebum,
In other words, your scalp reacts to everything that happens around it. Because of this thing, it can be very challenging to find the root of scalp itching. Thus, it may also be harder to find the proper treatment.
Unfortunately, research-wise scalp itching hasn’t been given much attention. There are no direct studies on it. But the mechanism of itching is known and so is the neurobiology of the scalp and hair follicles.
So, researchers can apply this knowledge to scalp itching and help us understand why it happens. I’ve read their summaries and conclusions and I’m going to reveal them to you, bit by bit, along the article.
It is harder to find the cause of scalp itching, especially when the itch is nowhere else present on the body. But by being isolated, that helps us try various treatments.
Natural treatments and remedies today come from Aromatherapy. It uses essential oils, which are concentrated plant essences.
How Can Essential Oils Help with Dry, Itchy Scalp?
These aromatic oils are suited to relieve itchiness and get rid of dandruff, among others. It’s because of their complexity, itchy scalp essential oils can deal with many symptoms.
Essential oils are:
- Calming and sedating.
- Tonic and stimulating.
These properties make them very beneficial. They help restore the protective film of the skin and strengthen its defense. They can kill the fungi that cause dandruff and help moisturizing the scalp.
Aromatic oils for itchy scalp can also improve the blood circulation. Blood delivers more nutrients and oxygen to the scalp and hair follicles. This particular benefit boosts hair growth and strengthens the hair follicles too.
The tiny oil molecules penetrate the skin through the pores and reach the blood and other skin cells. Aroma oils love fats and mix well with the skin sebum (naturally produced oil). That is how they get into the skin, through the pores that secrete sebum or the hair follicle shafts.
Luckily, there are a few good studies out there that show their effects on itchy scalp and dandruff. Celery, Lemongrass, Rosemary and Tea Tree are some of the best essential oils for itchy scalp. Let’s see more details about them.
1) Celery Seed Essential Oil
Botanical name: Apium graveolens.
- Celery seed is one of the best essential oils for dry, itchy scalp. Dry skin/scalp has many causes, and one of them is fungal infection. Malassezia furfur is usually responsible for causing dandruff. In a study, the oil of Celery inhibited the growth of the fungus at a 1% concentration. It was proven that it can kill the fungus and maintain its effect for 5 days.
- Celery oil improves circulation and soothes inflammation.
- It can also help with a troubled sleep.
- It’s important not to confuse celery with lovage. Their botanical names will help you differentiate them properly.
- Consult a doctor if you suffer from asthma, seizures, diabetes, etc. Other health concerns should also be taken into consideration, before deciding on Celery oil use.
Why I like it:
Celery essential oil is great for itchy scalp and dandruff. But it is also great for brown (age) spots. The oil stimulates a slow digestion and improves anxiety feelings, among others.
2) Lemongrass Essential Oil
Botanical name: Cymbopogon flexuosus.
- Lemongrass is one of the best soothing oils, which makes it especially useful for itchy scalp.
- One study found that 10% of Lemongrass oil can reduce dandruff and itchiness. This effect lasted for a week, when the volunteers applied it twice a day.
- Lemongrass also improves the circulation and decreases the blood pressure.
- It has strong anti-inflammatory and sedating effects, which help relieve itchy scalp.
- Avoid the use of Lemongrass essential oil for itchy scalp if you have asthma.
- Don’t use more than 20% in your blends as it can cause sensitization. Luckily, we’ve seen that 10% is more than enough to stop the itchiness and kill fungi. In this case, adding more won’t change the results.
Why I like it:
Lemongrass is not only a great oil for itchy scalp and dandruff, but it can also help with cellulite. It also purifies the air and induces a relaxing state of mind. Not to mention that it can also repel insects, bugs and roaches.
3) Rosemary Essential Oil
Botanical name: Rosmarinus officinalis.
- Rosemary is one of the best essential oils for itchy scalp and hair loss. In fact, this essence is great for boosting hair growth and darkening its color.
- One study found the oil of Rosemary useful in stimulating hair growth in androgenetic alopecia. It was compared with minoxidil. Beside growing hair, Rosemary was able to relieve some of the itchiness too.
- You can also use Rosemary oil for itchy scalp because it has anti-inflammatory effects.
- Rosemary oil should be used only with medical advice by those who suffer from asthma or epilepsy.
- Avoid using more than 20% of this aromatic oil in your anti-dandruff and itchy scalp.
- Rosemary has cortisone-like effects and can be toxic to the nervous system. Especially when it’s used in large amounts and on long periods of time.
Why I like it:
Rosemary oil is great for itchy scalp and dandruff. It leaves the hair squeaky clean and shiny, even after the first use. The oil is also great at improving digestion and respiratory problems.
4) Tea Tree Essential Oil
Botanical name: Melaleuca alternifolia.
- Melaleuca essential oil or Tea Tree is one of the most popular and studied oils. It was tested and found useful against 22 different species of Malassezia. These results were obtained with a 0.5 – 0.44% concentration of Tea Tree oil. The oil is highly antifungal and antibacterial.
- It can also strengthen the immune system and purify the air.
- Tea Tree essential oil for itchy scalp is also anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.
- Tea Tree can induce seizures.
- High doses used on long term can cause confusion and temporary loss of motion.
- The oil also has cortisone-like effects. Thus, it should not be used together with hormone-dependent treatments.
Why I like it:
Tea Tree is just great to have around. It’s useful for itchy scalp, dry scalp and dandruff. But it is also useful in disinfecting wounds, treating fungal skin infections and improving blood circulation.
Other great essential oils for dry, itchy scalp and dandruff:
- Bay leaf
- Lemon Eucalyptus
- Roman Chamomile
- Clary sage
*No essential oil should be taken orally without a doctor’s consultation! Children, pregnant and breastfeeding women must also seek medical advice first.
How to Use Essential Oils for Dry, Itchy Scalp
I was telling that essential oils are very concentrated plant essences. This means they should not be applied to the scalp undiluted. The best products for dilution are carrier oils.
They are fatty oils that spread well on large areas and provide different benefits to the skin. That’s why they work so well together. Both carriers and essential oils complement each other.
You can mix 3 – 5 drops of essential oils with 2 tablespoons (1 Oz) of carrier oil. Massage the mixture into the scalp and hair and leave it on for at least 20 minutes.
Rinse with warm water and soap or natural, organic shampoo. Commercial shampoos are known to be harsh to the skin and strip it of its protective oil.
You also have extra virgin Olive oil in your kitchen and you’re probably consuming it regularly. But is Olive oil good for itchy scalp too? This thought must have crossed your mind, since it’s so handy anyway. The answer is yes, Olive oil is good for dry, itchy scalp and dandruff.
Olive oil is nourishing and moisturizing, and it is also anti-inflammatory. It can therefore, enhance the effects of your essential oils for itchy scalp.
At the same time, Olive oil will maintain the scalp hydrated. It can also regulate the sebum production. Thus, dandruff and itchiness can be prevented. Olive oil contains squalene, a fatty acid that’s found in our sebum too.
Another great carrier oil for dry, itchy scalp is Jojoba. Jojoba is actually a liquid wax and its composition is very much like that of our sebum.
Jojoba oil can maintain the scalp well-nourished and hydrated. All that while essential oils for itchy scalp will kill fungi and stimulate blood circulation.
It has also been found that, when activated, the cannabinoid receptors can inhibit scalp itching. This is the perfect occasion to use some CBD Hemp carrier oil to get rid of scalp problems.
Other good carrier oils for itchy scalp:
- Sweet Almond
- Sunflower (unrefined)
The choice of carrier oil should be done according to your hair type and texture. Thicker oils are best for dry, brittle and damaged hair. Lighter oils like Macadamia and Almond, are best suited to oily hair types.
Essential Oil Recipes for Itchy Scalp and Dandruff
There is something about making your own natural beauty remedies! The mixing of ingredients, their fragrance, the way they act and react… It all adds up to that moment when you get to relax with a scented mask on.
It’s time to get practical and learn some new DIY scalp oil recipes for natural hair. Now you know why natural oils are good for itchy scalp. Try any of these hair and scalp care recipes to stop your head from itching.
Purifying Clay Mask with Olive Oil for Itchy Scalp
- Green clay: 2 tbsp.
- Olive oil: 1 tbsp.
- Tea Tree essential oil: 3 drops
Warm the Olive oil only slightly and add it to the clay. Add the essential oils as well and mix into a spreadable paste. Add more of the clay or Olive oil if necessary.
Massage the paste into the scalp with gentle motions and leave it on to act for 20 – 30 minutes. Follow up with a gentle shampoo. You could also add a bit of vinegar to your final rinsing water, but it’s optional.
Essential Oils Recipe for Dry Scalp
- Jojoba oil: 2 tsp.
- Olive oil: 2 tsp.
- Lemongrass essential oil: 4 – 6 drops
Mix all ingredients and warm the blend before use. Apply with your fingers all over the scalp and massage it all in. Leave the serum on for 20 – 30 minutes.
You can also cover your head with a shower cap or a warm towel. The heat opens up the pores and allows the skin and hair to absorb more of the oils. Continue shampooing as usual.
Essential Oils Recipe for Itchy Scalp and Hair Loss
- Rosemary essential oil: 8 drops
- Peppermint essential oil: 8 drops
- Jojoba oil: 1 Oz (30ml)
Follow the same directions as for the recipe above. Peppermint and Rosemary have been tested and found effective at boosting hair growth. They will strengthen the hair follicles and their roots, thus preventing the loss of hair.
Feel free to try other vegetable (carrier) oils too. I used Olive and Jojoba because of their nourishing, and anti-inflammatory effects. They can also help regulate the sebum production.
Jojoba and Olive are among the best oils for dry scalp that can give natural hair and dyed hair luster and vitality.
Interesting Facts about Itchy Scalp, Causes and Preventive Tips
What do dry scalp and dandruff have in common with itchy scalp? They are in fact, two of the main causes of an itchy scalp. In medical terms, this condition is also known as pruritus.
Dry skin will often tear and bruise more easily. It is tight around the hair follicles and nerves and creates discomfort.
Dandruff is caused by a family of fungi-like yeasts called Malassezia. These yeasts live on our skin and are an important part of its microflora. Malassezia love lipids because they need them to grow. Thus, these yeasts will be concentrated on skin regions like the face or scalp, where there’s a lot of sebum.
Their highest density though, is found in scalp. When the pH of the scalp/skin is stable and the sebum production is normal, Malassezia actually reduce inflammation.
It was also observed that a lot of sebum may actually be beneficial. High quantities of sebum may prevent the yeasts from causing inflammation. Thus, the sebum acts as protection for the scalp.
Low quantities of sebum (dry skin) reverse this protection mechanism. When the scalp is dry, Malassezia may cause inflammation that leads to itchiness.
This explanation is meant to show you the connection between dry scalp, dandruff and itchy scalp. But we can also see how the sebum plays a double role.
Depending on conditions, the sebum can protect from itch sensations or it can induce them. The scalp is richer in sebaceous glands than the face, thus there will be more sebum on scalp.
This only means that gentle cleaning products are needed to preserve as much sebum as possible. I would suggest using handmade soaps for a clean, non-aggressed hair and scalp.
The main causes of itchy scalp (pruritus) are:
- Dermatologic conditions like seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis and herpes zoster. Type 2 diabetes and sensitive scalp are also part of this category.
- Systemic diseases/disorders. They can affect many organs or the whole body. E.g.: high blood pressure (systemic disorder) or the flu (systemic disease). Here we have a long list. A few other examples would be chronic fatigue syndrome, hypothyroidism and fibromyalgia. Also, metabolic syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis, etc.
- Neurological disorders of the nervous system (brain, spine, scalp nerves, etc.).
- Psychogenic diseases like emotional or mental stress, psychological or psychiatric disorders. Basically, it can be anything that is not identified as physical abnormality.
The scalp is very well vascularized, meaning that it’s full of blood vessels. There is no other body region better vascularized than the scalp. It is also very well innervated (full of nerves).
There are 4 different types of nerves on the scalp. These nerve endings are found between the hair follicles and the sebaceous glands. Each is responsible for feeling tension and pressure, and for detecting damage among others.
As you can see, with all these happening on our scalps, it’s pretty difficult to find the exact cause of itchy scalp. What do you do if there are no physical signs of other disorders to get a specific treatment? You turn to essential oils for itchy scalp.
They are able to help with almost any of the above mentioned causes. If the cause is emotional, Aromatherapy can help you relax and beat anxiety.
If it’s something neurological, some essential oils are known to protect the nerves. All essential oils however, can stimulate the nervous system, one way or another.
Safety Tips for Using Essential Oils on Dry, Itchy Scalp
- Topically, they should never be used undiluted. They can irritate, sensitize or even burn the skin and/or scalp.
- Aromatherapy oils should be used carefully on long periods of time. It’s best to switch between essences to avoid problems.
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women should consult their doctor first.
- Don’t use aromatic oils on children and elderly without medical advice.
- Those with health conditions also need the approval of a doctor before using oils for itchy skin.
- Avoid using them around the eyes, mouth, nose and ears.
- Do not ingest them without first consulting with your doctor.
- If the scalp becomes very inflamed and painful, stop using aromatic oils and go to the doctor a.s.a.p.
- Sudden or excessive hair loss should determine you to see a doctor as well. Just remember that it’s normal to lose around 100 hairs a day, which is a lot anyway.
Tips to Prevent Dry Itchy Scalp and Dandruff
We know that there can be many causes for an itchy scalp. But there are some things you can do to improve your odds at not having to deal with it anymore:
- Keep a good hair hygiene. Wash it with natural, organic shampoos or homemade soaps. Then rinse with tepid water.
- Avoid excessive washing, as you will strip the scalp of its sebum. Two (maybe three) times a week should be enough.
- Avoid abusing hair dyes and styling products, or products with alcohol.
- Brush your hair only with wooden brushes. Avoid plastic or metal brushes.
- When possible, let the hair dry naturally. Otherwise, try to keep the blow dryer as far from the head as possible. Intense heat can damage the hair and dry the skin.
- Finally, avoid scratching whenever it itches. You can make inflammation worse and even cause lesions to the skin. They can get infected and complicate things further.
The health of our hair and scalp is very important. When something’s wrong, they can create a lot of discomfort and even embarrassment. But luckily, we have the right remedies for almost any scalp problem.
All it takes is a good hair care routine and patience. In more serious cases, the results are often seen after 6 months of treatment.
Using essential oils for itchy scalp is easy and cost-effective. They’ve also been proven effective, which is all we need to know. Do you have a favorite oil for itchy skin and scalp you use often? What is the best essential oil for dry and itchy scalp in your opinion and why?