What Can Be Used for a Dry, Itchy Scalp for African-American Hair?

Keep your hair and scalp healthy and happy like actress Gabrielle Union, seen here at Game One of the 2011 NBA Finals.

Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

African-American hair can be quite dry and coarse. This often results in a dry, itchy scalp, which can be seriously annoying. From dandruff to non-stop itching that makes you feel like you should join your puppy on the floor, it's definitely a pain. Don't worry, there are different solutions and you can hydrate and healthify your locks and scalp by following the right hair care techniques.


You need shampoo, there's no way around it. Shampoo cleans your hair, getting rid of any buildup and keeping it free of oil and grime. Using the right shampoo is the key here, otherwise you're only going to end up making your hair and scalp drier and more irritated. Choose a gentle shampoo that's specially formulated for dry hair and just as importantly, don't overdo it; stick to shampooing no more than four times a week to prevent dryness. Shampoos containing glycerin are particularly helpful for your hair. It's nourishing and moisturizing, helping to relieve a dry scalp.


Conditioner is always important. Use it every time you shampoo, letting it soak into your wet hair for about 5 to 10 minutes after rinsing the shampoo out. Conditioner nourishes your hair and also keeps your scalp moisturized, which helps relieve itchiness and irritation and prevent it in the future. A light misting of leave-in conditioner helps give your hair that extra bit of nourishment and acts as a detangling agent when your hair is damp. Oil scalp treatments and deep conditioning also help; using these sorts of treatments once every couple of weeks is enough.

Cool Water

Use cool water when you're in the shower or bath. Sure, hot water may feel uber-relaxing and soothing, but it's really damaging to your skin. If you're a gal who likes to take a long, leisurely shower every morning, that hot water is likely drying out your hair and scalp and could be the main cause of your dryness and irritation.

Over-The-Counter Products

Over-the-counter products are often used to treat dry, itchy scalp for African-American hair. This can include products with ingredients from pyrithione zinc and collodial sulfur to tea tree oil and rosemary. Your doctor can offer you more detailed information on such products and help you figure out which is right for you to use.

Hair Color

If you color your hair you could be causing more harm than good, even though that color looks absolutely ferocious on you. Permanent hair dye is chemical-based and can leave your scalp dry and irritated. Switch to a semi-permanent shade or even a color glaze to keep your hair and scalp as hydrated and healthy as possible.


As with most things, consistency is key if you want to keep your hair hydrated and healthy. Even once your hair starts to show improvement, keep the hair care techniques as part of your regular hair care routine. You don't just want shiny, healthy hair now, you want it to stay that way. If you want to talk to a professional about your dry, itchy scalp, it's a dermatologist you need to meet with. This is a professional in skin care -- your scalp is skin, after all -- who can offer you sound, educated advice after examining your scalp.

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