Right off the bath, let's say that dreadlocks do not, by themselves, make your scalp itch. There is nothing unclean or otherwise less than hygienic about dreadlocks. If well-maintained, they are clean, healthy, and beautiful! But for many early in their loc journey, an itchy scalp is a problem. Many products are targeted at dealing with this issue, but it would be best for you and your scalp to figure why it's itching—knowing why will ensure that you find the most appropriate solution and get the best possible result.
So here we'll look at the many possible causes of your itchy scalp, plus a few remedies.
Related: The Ultimate Guide to Washing Dreadlocks
What causes your scalp to itch
Since we already know that dreadlocks don't cause an itchy scalp, you might be surprised at the long list of other causes. We have tried to be as thorough as possible, but there are probably still other causes we didn't discover. But this list is an excellent place to start.
Under stimulation is the most prevalent cause of itchy scalp after you begin your locs. Your scalp was accustomed to being combed, brushed, and styled daily. Perhaps you shampooed your hair more frequently as well. Your scalp had become used to a certain level of stimulation - and then you got your hair loc'd. You immediately stopped with the combs and brushes and began shampooing a little less frequently. Your scalp is irritated because it is understimulated.
You can remedy this with regular scalp massages to exfoliate the dead skin cells and encourage energizing blood flow to the scalp. In time, you'll find your scalp is less sensitive and itchy.
Under or over washed
Although we've said that dreadlocks are generally clean, it's possible to have an itchy scalp because you need to shampoo. Normally, combing and brushing will move accumulated oils and dead skin cells to your hair, where you will wash them away. But when you aren't combing or brushing, these oils and dead skin cells can rest on the scalp and build up. If your scalp is itchy, consider when the last time was that you shampooed your locs. You may discover that it is due for a washing.
Conversely, you can also have an itchy scalp because you're over washing. When you shampoo and wash away accumulated oil and dead skin cells, it's possible to wash so often that you rid your scalp of the natural oils it needs. Your scalp can become dry and, therefore, itchy. You remedy this by diluting your residue-free shampoo to half-strength. This will be enough to wash away dead skin cells but leave behind some of those natural oils.
Using the wrong shampoo, conditioner, or other loc-care products that leave behind residue is another reason for an itchy scalp. This residue will build-up on your scalp and in your locs. It can be difficult to thoroughly rinse your hair of the products you use, especially with locs, so we have to be thoughtful about what we put in our hair. It's essential to find products that don't just say they're made for dreadlocks, but the label lists ingredients that are kind to your locs.
Is it hard to find products that love your locs as much as you do? We have the best products to grow healthy, residue-free dreadlocks. Check out Lion Locs today!
Believe it or not, dehydration can lead to an itchy scalp. It can also give way to a multitude of health problems, so drink up. Ensuring that you're ingesting plenty of water will benefit every organ system in your body, not to mention stimulating your scalp. Your hair, skin, and mood will also thank you.
Time for retwist
Could your scalp be feeling 'smothered' by your new growth? If you aren't diligent about doing a regular retwist when needed, your new growth can begin to irritate your scalp causing it to itch. This has an easy fix - determine a regular interval that works for your hair's speed of growth. Put the dates in your calendar, so you'll never forget. Your locs will look well-groomed, and your scalp will be happy.
Related: How to Maintain Dreadlocks
Reaction to hair care products
We've already mentioned residue left from loc-care products, but there are other reasons certain products may be making your scalp itch. More than just your scalp, your face and neck can become inflamed or badly irritated. The remedy here is to take your time to rinse the products out of your hair or simply find products that don't make you itch.
One of the most common reasons for an itchy scalp is dandruff. You'll know if it's dandruff because of the dry flakes that show themselves in your roots and on your shoulders. There are a few things you can do to help the situation, including improving your diet. Find a good anti-dandruff shampoo and follow its instructions.
The American Academy of Dermatology Association recommends that you should shampoo twice per week if you have straighter textured hair. And if your anti-dandruff shampoo is ineffective, consider alternating between different ones with varying active ingredients. If you are black, you should shampoo once per week and consult a board-certified dermatologist who can recommend something for your hair type.
More serious possibilities
It's also possible your itchy scalp can have a more serious cause.
Psoriasis, a chronic autoimmune disease, can produce scaly patches on your scalp. Shampoos with coal tar or salicylic acid may keep it under control. Barring these, talk to your doctor, who may offer more substantial medical options.
I hate to mention this one because of the social stigma around the cleanliness of dreadlocks, but if your scalp is itching excessively, lice should be considered. A visual inspection will determine whether or not this is the case. Even with dreadlocks, there are things you can do that don't entail cutting your hair.
Use the shampoos recommended for lice that have insecticides (pyrethrin or permethrin) as active ingredients. And remember, lice like clean hair, so their presence isn't an indictment on your personal hygiene.
Folliculitis is a condition of inflamed hair follicles. The original may be either fungal or bacterial, but the result can be hair loss if left untreated. Don't panic, though. Visit your doctor and get a prescription for antibiotics.
Related: Is Rosewater good for locs?
In a nutshell
There may be many other reasons for an itchy scalp with dreadlocks, but these are the biggies. Your solution may be straightforward, or you may need medical interventions, but do whatever you have to to get back to enjoying your locs again.
Are you looking for trustworthy products for your locs? We use quality, organic ingredients to produce the best for your hair. Check out our products at Lion Locs today.