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Does An Itchy Scalp Mean My Hair Is Growing?
Dr. Ismail Ughratdar (FRCS)
Medically reviewed by
Dr. Ismail Ughratdar (FRCS)
Updated on November 20, 2023

Eager for your hair to start growing? You could be looking for signs everywhere, especially if your scalp starts to itch.

Unfortunately, in most cases, an itchy scalp doesn’t mean hair growth. In fact, an itchy scalp is more commonly linked with hair loss and scalp problems.

But there are dozens of potential causes of an itchy scalp according to the NHS. So don’t necessarily assume that all that head scratching means your hair is about to fall out.

In this article, we’ll outline some of the most common causes of scalp itching, how you can tell if your hair is growing, and what scalp itching can mean.

Table of Contents

Does hair itch when it starts growing?

There’s not much evidence to suggest that your scalp starts to itch when hair starts growing, though there are some anecdotal reports of this.

However, if you’ve been using a hair loss treatment, your scalp might become irritated and itchy as a reaction to the treatment. For example, some people report an itchy scalp when using Minoxidil [1].

Rosemary oil for hair and topical Finasteride can also lead to scalp itchiness, which may be confused with itching due to new growth [1-2].

Why do hair loss treatments make your scalp itch?

Some hair loss treatments, like Minoxidil spray, contain ingredients that might irritate your scalp and make it feel itchy. Propylene glycol is a known irritant in topical Minoxidil, but switching to a propylene glycol-free formula like Minoxidil foam can reduce scalp itchiness.

In rare cases, you might be allergic to the ingredients in your hair loss treatment [3]. This might manifest as hives, swelling, or a rash.

example of swelling and rash due to the use of Minoxidil foam
Swelling and a rash in response to Minoxidil 5% foam application.

To avoid more severe reactions, always do a patch test before using a new treatment. Apply a small amount of the solution behind your ear and leave it for 24 hours to see if any symptoms develop.

Does an itchy scalp prevent hair growth?

In itself, an itchy scalp won’t usually prevent hair growth. However, it may be a sign of an underlying condition that limits growth or even causes hair loss. These conditions might include:

Excessive scalp scratching might also damage your hair follicles, which could lead to temporary hair shedding.

What are the signs of new hair growth?

So if an itchy scalp doesn’t mean hair growth, what does? Here are some of the telltale signs that your hair is growing through:

  • Dark spots on your scalp — People with darker hair and lighter skin may see the hair root before it grows through. It can look similar to a beard shadow, but you’ll need to inspect your scalp closely to see it.
  • Soft fuzzy hairs — New hair (also known as baby hair) is often much softer than existing hair, so any light downy growth may be a sign of growth. You’ll notice most baby hairs around your hairline.
  • Thicker hair — You might not notice individual hair growth, but you may feel that your hair becomes thicker, heavier, or more voluminous over time.
  • Reduced thinning — If you’ve been using a hair loss treatment like Minoxidil or Finasteride, you should see a reduction in hair shedding a few weeks after you start treatment. That means less hair loss in the shower and on your pillow in the morning.

For most people, new hair growth won’t be visible for at least a couple of weeks. The best way to monitor regrowth is to take weekly photos of your scalp (ideally using the same camera, lighting, and position) to monitor your progress.

Is new hair growth prickly?

New hair growth on your scalp isn’t usually prickly, as terminal hair tends to be fine and soft as it grows in. Prickly hair is often associated with freshly shaved hair or regrowth on other areas of your body besides your scalp.

However, if you have naturally coarse hair, you might feel some prickliness when new scalp hair starts to grow.

Common causes of scalp itching

If an itchy scalp doesn’t usually signify hair growth, what is making your head itch? Let’s explore some of the most common causes of scalp itchiness.

  • Dry or cracked skin — Cold weather, lack of hydration and other triggers can make your skin feel dry and itchy.
  • Dandruff — Scratching an itchy scalp can lead to flakes of dandruff, which may be visible in your hair or on your clothes.
  • Eczema — Eczema can be triggered by allergies to shampoo ingredients and other products, and can lead to an itchy scalp a day after washing.
  • Scalp psoriasis — An autoimmune condition that leads to red and silver itchy plaques on the scalp.
  • Head lice — Particularly common in children, head lice and nits can make your head feel very itchy.
  • Hair transplant — When your hair transplant is healing, your scalp may feel a little itchy as the scabs start to form. But it’s important to avoid scratching your scalp so your hair grafts can heal.

There are lots of other possible causes of an itchy scalp, which is why it’s important to get checked out by a trichologist if you’re not sure what’s making your head itch.

What to do if your hair isn’t growing

If your hair seems to have stopped growing, it’s time to check in with a trichologist. An underlying condition may have disrupted your hair growth cycle, or you may have a hair loss condition that’s causing your hair to fall out.

The Wimpole Clinic’s trichology team can help you uncover the causes of your hair problems, and find the best male hair loss treatment or female hair loss treatment for you.

Book a consultation with our team today to get a diagnosis and discuss the treatment options available to you.

Does An Itchy Scalp Mean My Hair Is Growing?, Wimpole Clinic

Dr. Ismail Ughratdar (FRCS)
Medically reviewed by Dr. Ismail Ughratdar (FRCS)Updated on November 20, 2023
The Wimpole Clinic offers FUE Hair, Beard & Eyebrow Transplants & Trichology.
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