Reading time: 8 min.
12 Reasons Your Scalp Itches a Day After Washing and How to Treat Them
Dr Kieran Dayah (GMC)
Medically reviewed by
Dr Kieran Dayah (GMC)
Updated on April 29, 2024

Waking up to your scalp itching a day after washing your hair can be frustrating and concerning, especially if it is accompanied by hair loss. You may be wondering if the discomfort comes from the hair products you use or whether you’re experiencing one of the many common scalp problems.

The good news is that most often, scalp itching is not serious and will go away once its underlying cause is addressed. That is why it is important to figure out the reason why you’re experiencing pruritus (itchy skin) and to get the most appropriate treatment for your condition.

Continue reading to find out all you need to know about an itchy scalp a day after washing:

  • The main causes for experiencing scalp itch and their treatment
  • Substances found in hair care products which cause itchiness
  • The relationship between an itchy scalp and hair growth
  • Ways to get relief for an itchy scalp
Table of Contents

Why does my scalp itch a day after washing my hair?

There are many possible causes of an itchy scalp, but only some of them persist even after you have just cleaned your hair the day before. The most common of these include [1][2]:

1. Dandruff


Dandruff is a skin condition which causes white or yellow flakes to appear on your scalp. It can have several causes, such as seborrheic dermatitis, allergic reactions, eczema, psoriasis or fungal infection with Malassezia

Symptoms: dry, flaky scalp, erythema (red patches), hair loss

Treatment: Ketoconazole, selenium sulphide, zinc pyrithione, coal tar, salicylic acid, tea tree oil [3]

2. Psoriasis


Scalp psoriasis is an autoimmune condition which affects 2% of the UK population. It manifests as hard, flaky plaques on the scalp.

Symptoms: hardened, scaly plaques on the scalp which give off silvery flakes, itchiness, soreness, hair loss

Treatment: steroid creams, salicylic acid, emollients

3. Pediculosis capitis (head lice)

head lice

Head lice are small parasites that feed on the blood in your scalp. They are common in children and spread through direct transfer from the hair of someone already infected.

Symptoms: itchiness, the sensation of movement on your scalp

Treatment: topical pediculicides (permethrin, malathion), wet combing, oral ivermectin

4. Lichen simplex chronicus

Lichen simplex chronicus

This is a scalp disorder caused by intense scratching or rubbing, triggered by previous hair conditions, such as dermatitis, but also by psychogenic factors, such as anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder

Symptoms: dry, scaly, thickened skin, itchiness, brush-like broken hairs, alopecia.

Treatment: topical corticosteroids or, by case, psychological therapy.

5. Contact dermatitis (allergic reaction)

Contact dermatitis

Also known as an allergic reaction, contact dermatitis occurs when the scalp is exposed to an allergen that you are sensitive to.

Symptoms: itchiness, swelling, inflammation, dry, cracked, weeping and sore skin.

Treatment: thoroughly removing the allergen from the scalp, topical corticosteroids.

6. Atopic dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis

This type of eczema can be triggered by allergies, irritants or environmental factors, skin infections or hormonal changes.

Symptoms: flare-ups of dry, cracked, itchy skin, sometimes with weeping red patches, scabs on scalp.

Treatment: limiting exposure to triggers, topical corticosteroids

7. Tinea capitis (ringworm)

ringworm on the scalp

Ringworm is a common fungal infection which is spread through skin-to-skin contact with someone who already has it.

Symptoms: red, ring-like, scaly, dry and itchy rash.

Treatment: oral antifungals, ketoconazole, selenium sulphide

8. Folliculitis


This inflammation of the hair follicle is usually caused by a bacterial infection, but it can also be brought on by irritated or blocked follicles. In rare cases, patients can develop folliculitis after a hair transplant.

Symptoms: red, tender and itchy bumps or pustules on the scalp. Your scalp may feel tender in one spot or all over.

Treatment: warm compresses, antibacterial or antifungal shampoo

9. Psychosomatic conditions

person itching their scalp

You may have heard of hair loss from stress, but did you know that stress and anxiety can sometimes also lead to a tender or itching scalp? Trychodinia, or burning scalp syndrome can also produce itching alongside pain in patients with anxiety or depression, comorbid with androgenetic alopecia (male pattern baldness) or telogen effluvium.

Symptoms: scalp tenderness, burning, tingling or itching

Treatment: by case, stress management, psychotherapy, antidepressants, anxiolytics

10. Irritants in hair care products

man reading ingredients on shampoo bottle

Hair care products such as hair dye or bleach, shampoos or conditioners can contain substances that dry out or irritate your scalp (e.g. sulphates, parabens, silicone, etc.).

Symptoms: scalp redness, swelling, tenderness, itching

Treatment: removing the irritants from the scalp and using a formula which does not contain irritants, antihistamine or corticosteroid cream if needed

11. Side effects of hair growth medication

hair growth medication side effects

Hair loss medication such as topical Minoxidil, Finasteride or Rosemary oil for hair growth can have unwanted side effects in some patients, causing scalp irritation.

Symptoms: a rash on the scalp, redness and itching

Treatment: stop using the medication and consult your trichologist for recommendations

12. Idiopathic pruritus

itchy scalp

As its name shows, the causes of idiopathic pruritus are unknown, as there is no identifiable health condition that could lead to it. It is often accompanied by generalised, whole-body itchiness.

Symptoms: scalp (and often body) itchiness

Treatment: tar-based shampoos, antihistamines, antidepressants

Can hair products make my scalp itch?

Yes, there are substances in commonly used hair care products, such as shampoo, conditioner or hair dye which can leave you with a dry and itchy scalp or trigger contact dermatitis. The most notorious of these are:

  • Parabens
  • Sulfates
  • Phtalates
  • Formaldehyde
  • Alcohols
  • Synthetic fragrances
  • Synthetic dyes

If you are looking for the best shampoo advice to keep your scalp clean and healthy and prevent itchiness and hair loss, do not hesitate to see a trichologist. They will be able to make personalised recommendations for the best and worst shampoos for your particular type of hair and scalp.

How do I stop my scalp from itching after shampooing?

If you have noticed that your scalp only itches right after shampooing and then the discomfort subsides in the following days, you can be fairly certain that your scalp is reacting to one or more of the components in the product you are using.

This could either be due to experiencing an allergic reaction to one of the substances in it or because it contains irritants which are harmful to your scalp. In this case, you may want to consider the following tips:

  • Switch to a different shampoo with a hypoallergenic formulation which is free from common irritants such as sulphates, parabens, etc.
  • Test all hair products on a small patch of skin before applying it to your scalp.
  • Wash your hair frequently and rinse it thoroughly to clean out hair product buildup and debris. Find out how often you should wash your hair to keep it strong and healthy.
  • Avoid overusing spray/powder shampoo, as dry shampoo does not cause hair loss, but using it more than twice a week can lead to buildup which can irritate your scalp.
  • Always keep your scalp moisturised, especially if it tends to be on the dry side.

If you have followed these suggestions and your scalp still itches a day after washing your hair, it is time to see a dermatologist or a trichologist to rule out an underlying condition.

Why does my scalp itch all day long?

If your scalp pruritus is permanent and does not subside after some time has passed since the last wash, it may not necessarily have been caused by the hair cleaning products you have been using (although, in some cases, it can take contact dermatitis days and even weeks to clear up).

Since there are so many possible causes for experiencing an itchy scalp, only a dermatologist or hair specialist can give you an accurate diagnosis, after learning your medical history and examining you for other symptoms. If your condition is less common or more difficult to diagnose, you may be recommended specific tests, such as a dermoscopy or a scalp biopsy to get to the root of the problem.

Does your hair itch when it grows?

If you have been undergoing hair growth treatment or had a recent hair transplant, you may be wondering if an itchy scalp means your hair is growing. Sadly, there is little evidence to support that.

While there have been isolated reports of people experiencing scalp pruritus due to their hair growing out from medication, science says this was more likely a side effect of the treatment they were using. Some of the users can get an itchy scalp from Minoxidil, Finasteride or even herbal remedies such as rosemary oil, as they can cause rashes and irritation [4][5][6].

However, after hair restoration surgery, you might experience some mild itchiness as your hair transplant is healing. Be sure to avoid temptation to scratch, as your hair grafts are sensitive and can come out easily if not properly healed. The slight discomfort will be worth it to get the best hair transplant results.

hair transplant scabs
After day or two from a hair transplant, the grafts will scab and may itch

How to get relief for an itchy scalp

The most effective way to get relief for an itchy scalp is to have it diagnosed and get a treatment recommendation from a scalp health professional. However, if you are looking for some temporary remedies [7] while you are waiting for your appointment, doing the following things could help ease your discomfort:

woman holding a jar of oil
  • Warm olive oil – Massaging it gently into your scalp and leaving it on for a few hours will soften your skin and loosen itchy crusts.
  • Colloidal oatmeal – Washing your hair with the leftover water in which you had previously soaked oats can create a protective film on your scalp which locks in moisture, preventing dryness and flaking and reducing inflammation.
  • Apple cider vinegar – Applying a 1:1 solution of water and vinegar and washing it out after a few minutes can relieve your itch, due to its antifungal, antibacterial and disinfectant properties. It works especially well for scalp psoriasis. However, do not use this remedy if you have sores or blisters on your scalp.
  • Peppermint oil – Add a couple of drops to your shampoo for a cooling, soothing menthol effect. It works particularly well for skin allergies, but also for pregnancy-related itching [8].
  • Lemongrass oil – A study of 30 participants showed that applying a 10% lemongrass oil hair tonic twice a day for 2 weeks resulted in an 81% reduction in dandruff [9].

My itchy scalp is accompanied by hair loss

If your scalp pruritus also comes with hair shedding, it is even more important to see a trichologist as soon as possible, to prevent your hair loss from getting worse or to make sure you don’t develop scarring alopecia.

Sometimes, hair loss and itchiness can have the same cause, as it happens in the case of dandruff, contact dermatitis or scalp psoriasis. At other times, they can be independent of each other and aside from an itching scalp you may be experiencing the first signs of hair thinning and balding.

If you are a postmenopausal woman, it might help to seek out the best shampoo for menopausal hair loss and damage. Whatever the cause of your symptoms may be, ignoring them will usually make your condition worse.

Book a consultation now at your most convenient clinic location and our hair specialists will help you remove all doubt about why your scalp is itchy after washing and why your hair is falling out. Then, they will recommend the most appropriate medication and therapy for your condition, so your hair and scalp will be happy and healthy once more.

12 Reasons Your Scalp Itches a Day After Washing and How to Treat Them, Wimpole Clinic

Dr Kieran Dayah (GMC)
Medically reviewed by Dr Kieran Dayah (GMC)Updated on April 29, 2024
The Wimpole Clinic offers FUE Hair, Beard & Eyebrow Transplants & Trichology.
Talk to a specialist ☎ 020 7935 1861.

Book a consultation

Simply fill in your details in the form below and we'll get in touch with you shortly.