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    Maybe your scalp stings a little when you color your hair. Or the new shampoo you're using makes it burn. Or maybe your scalp just started itching for no reason you can think of.

    It's not surprising that scalps sometimes itch, sting, or feel prickly. Though your skull is hard, your scalp is quite tender. It has more blood vessels than any other area of the body and lots of nerve endings.

    Here are some common causes of scalp problems and what you can do about them.

    Hair Dye and Curl Relaxers

    Treatments that color, bleach, or straighten your hair are the most likely hair products to irritate your scalp. If you use heat during processing -- to help lighten hair, for example -- the irritation can be worse.

    What helps: Always do a patch test to see how your skin reacts before using a new hair product. If it stings or itches, try a different brand. If you're coloring your hair, try a semi-permanent color or a rinse. Permanent color has an ingredient called PPDAthat can cause an allergic reaction. To limit exposure to harsh chemicals, retouch the roots instead of doing all-over color every time. Or highlight instead of lightening all over.


    Fragrances and preservatives in shampoo irritate some people's skin. Not rinsing out shampoo well can also cause itching.

    What helps: Switch to a new shampoo. Look for fragrance-free, organic shampoo for color-treated hair or mild "baby" shampoos. Be sure to give your hair a good rinse.


    Winter weather can make your scalp flake and itch, especially if you live in a cold, dry climate. This usually goes away in summer, unless it's very hot and humid. Hot and humid weather can make scalps feel prickly.

    What helps: Try to keep indoor temperatures "just right" -- not too warm or too cool. Wash your hair less in winter to keep in oils and moisture that protect your scalp.

    THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

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