Anxiety has a variety of physical symptoms, but some are less common than others. Stomach upset and "jitters" are common symptoms, and nearly everyone with anxiety experiences them. But there are several infrequent symptoms as well, and one of them is itchy scalp.
It is genuinely possible for itchy scalp to be caused by anxiety. It is also possible for itchy scalp to be caused by some other skin condition, but irritated by anxiety.
Itchy Scalp = Anxiety?
Itchy scalp is not a common anxiety symptom, but it may be caused by anxiety. In nearly all cases it's accompanied by other anxiety symptoms.
Take my anxiety test now to get an idea if your itchy scalp is anxiety related.
Research into why anxiety causes itchy scalp isn't clear. Most studies seem to indicate that anxiety and stress don't cause itchy scalp directly. Rather, the person is more likely to have dandruff or a natural and otherwise harmless scalp condition, and their scalp condition is made worse by stress.
Anxiety can also have a severe effect on your hormones and damage your organs, and your skin is your body's largest organ, so the idea that anxiety can lead to scalp itch is not an unusual one.
If you haven't already, take the free anxiety test I developed to get a snapshot on your anxiety and its potential causes.
Why Does Anxiety Lead to Itchy Scalp?
Studies have struggled to link a mechanism between anxiety and itchy scalp, but note that there appear to be many people that seem to suffer from itchy scalp when they have anxiety. Because the mechanism isn't clear, the cause of itchy scalp with anxiety is likely to be related to one of the following:
- Skin Sensitivity Stress increases skin sensitivity, and the scalp experiences a lot of contact with bacteria, fungi, germs, and chemicals. When you experience several anxiety, you're potentially increasing the likelihood that your skin will experience a reaction to those chemicals, or a worse reaction than you do normally.
- Over-sensitivity Those that live with some types of anxiety problems are prone to an issue known as hypersensitivity – the act of "feeling" a sensation more than other people. In other words, if your skin occasionally has a light itch, a person without anxiety may not even notice it, but a person with anxiety may feel it strongly.
- Unknown Stress Reactions Finally, some of the reactions of anxiety aren't known. During an anxiety attack, for example, your body experiences profound stress that affects hormone levels, vitamin nourishment, digestion and more, and affect each person differently. It's possible that any one of these issues is responsible for itching on your scalp.
The truth is that anxiety causes itchy scalp in some people, and likely causes it for different reasons. It's not the most common issue, but it's one that many people report.
How to Prevent and Cure Itchy Scalp From Anxiety
Anxiety itchy scalp can only be permanently cured by preventing anxiety. If the stress of anxiety is affecting your skin health, then the stress can't be stopped until your anxiety is stopped. Until then, you can try the following:
Use Hypoallergenic Shampoo and Conditioner
Your first step is to avoid skin irritation. You can start by trying to switch to less damaging hair treatments. Try to switch everything you use in your hair to products that are less likely to cause skin irritation, in case your skin is becoming more sensitive.
Make sure you're not scratching your scalp either. The itching can often feel overwhelming, but scratching irritates the skin further and may lead to further itching later on. It can be hard to hold back, but holding back is very important.
Let Your Hair Breathe
Give your scalp a break. Avoid hats and head coverings, try not to pull your hair too much or fill it with products or dye it – anything to give your hair a chance to breath and experience fewer irritations.
These will all start the process. The next step is, of course, to cure your anxiety.
Different types of anxiety cause different levels of stress, and may lead to different reactions. For example, some people experience full anxiety attacks, and these attacks can put so much stress on your body that it drastically changes the way your body works – not only during the attack, but after.
How to Cure Anxiety and Stop Scalp Itch
Anxiety is an incredibly complex disorder. There is more than one type of anxiety, and more than one way that anxiety can affect you.
Curing anxiety takes a combination of lifestyle changes, dietary changes, replacement coping strategies, and special strategies designed to reduce your anxiety directly. Without knowing your specific situation, it's tough to tell you exactly what to do, and anyone that tells you otherwise is providing misleading information.
When I help people get rid of their anxiety, I tell them to first take my free anxiety test. It takes 7 minutes to complete, and in the end you'll get a snapshot of your anxiety, and more accurate recommendations for the next steps in relieving it.
If you haven't yet, take the test now.
Author: Micah Abraham, BSc Psychology, last updated Sep 28, 2017.