Causes And Treatment Of Itchy Scalp During Pregnancy

Reviewed by Dr. Divya Sharma, MBBS, MD
Written by Ramona Sinha, Certified Skin Care Coach

Most pregnant women experience a skin or liver condition called cholestasis that makes their belly, thighs, feet, and hands feel itchy. The condition also causes an itchy scalp during pregnancy. But fret not – there are treatment options available to give you some relief. Continue reading to know the causes and triggers of cholestasis, why it affects the scalp, and what you can do to soothe an itchy scalp.

What Causes Itchy Scalp During Pregnancy?

  • Hormones: Hormonal ups and downs during pregnancy commonly cause nausea, vomiting, and mood swings. An itchy scalp could also be another symptom of these fluctuations. The quality of sebum gets impacted by the hormonal changes in the skin.
  • Dehydration: Not consuming food or not drinking enough water causes dehydration and an itchy scalp.
  • Dandruff: Dandruff caused due to dry weather or inflammation (seborrheic dermatitis) can also be a reason why your scalp is itchy. Seborrheic dermatitis is a type of chronic dandruff that can spread to your head, back of the neck, legs, arms, and pubic area.
  • Stress: Pregnancy can trigger stress in many women. The hormonal response to stress causes inflammation in the body which, in turn, can have an impact on the scalp.
  • Not Washing Your Hair: A common reason for having an itchy scalp is not washing your hair enough. Dirt, sebum, pollution, sweat, etc., get accumulated on your scalp, which can cause scalp itching.

These could be a few reasons why you have an itchy scalp during pregnancy. So, how do you fix it? Let’s find out in the following section.

How To Treat Itchy Scalp During Pregnancy

  • Drink Adequate Water: To prevent dehydration and flush out the toxins from your body, you must drink adequate amounts of water every day. According to a paper published in the Journal of Perinatal Education, pregnant women must drink 8-10 glasses of water per day (1). Water also helps reduce stress and inflammation in the body, thereby reducing anxiety and depression (2).
  • Exercise Every Day: Stretching, yoga, and meditation are essential for your physical and mental well-being (3). Exercising every day is vital to reduce stress, improve blood circulation, and keep your hair and skin healthy, especially during pregnancy. Talk to a physical therapist who specializes in prenatal yoga and meditation. Practice at least 20 minutes of yoga stretches and 10 minutes of meditation every day to reduce the scalp itching caused by hormonal ups and downs and stress.
  • Use Anti-Dandruff Shampoo: If you have dandruff or seborrheic dermatitis, you must use an anti-dandruff shampoo to reduce scalp itching. Use a shampoo with selenium sulfide, pyrithione zinc (antifungal agent), and ketoconazole to treat dandruff or seborrheic dermatitis effectively. Here are a few more shampoos you can use.

Note: Avoid shampoos with coal tar, parabens, and sulfates.

  • Use Coconut Oil And Lime Juice: Coconut oil and lime juice is a good home remedy for dandruff and dry scalp. Massage coconut oil into your scalp and hair. Then use a cotton ball to dab lime juice all over your scalp. Wait for 10 minutes before washing it off. You must use coconut oil to avoid irritating the scalp with lime juice. If your scalp starts to burn, wash it off immediately.
  • Use Essential Oils: Using essential oils has two benefits – it reduces dry scalp and helps you de-stress. You can choose any of these essential oils and dilute them with a carrier oil before applying them to your head. Massage your scalp gently to increase blood flow in the scalp. Take deep breaths and relax your shoulders and neck. Wait for 20 minutes before washing your hair.
  • Get A Spa Treatment: If pregnancy has made your hair and scalp dry and lackluster, getting a spa treatment can help you revive it. The steam in saunas helps open up the hair cuticles, allowing moisture to penetrate the hair strands. Applying a moisturizer to your hair then helps keep the hair strands hydrated and nourished. Get a spa treatment once or twice a month to reduce dryness on the scalp and rejuvenate your hair.
  • Sleep Well: Stress, anxiety, and depression are common during pregnancy and after childbirth. While exercising can help reduce stress and release serotonin (a feel-good hormone), your body and mind also need rest. Nothing is better than getting a solid 7-8 hours of sleep every night. This will help reduce stress and inflammation and reboot your immune system.
  • Take Your Supplements: Vitamin and mineral deficiencies during and after pregnancy is a common issue. Taking the right supplements after talking to your doctor can also help reduce scalp itching and hair loss.

These are the ways you can reduce scalp itching during pregnancy.

Products To Use To Reduce Scalp Itching

1. Shampoo

Use a paraben-free, sulfate-free, and coal tar-free shampoo to keep your scalp, hair, and the baby(or babies) safe.

2. Conditioner

Using a good pregnancy-safe conditioner will keep your scalp and hair hydrated, soft, and nourished.

3. Hair Oil

Hair oils are loaded with fatty acids and nourishing properties that help lock moisture in your hair and reduce dryness on the scalp.

4. Essential Oils

Essential oils have stress-relieving and hair-nourishing properties. Aromatic lavender or lemon essential oil mixed with a carrier oil (coconut or almond oil) can be applied to your hair to relax and moisturize your scalp and hair.

5. Hair Masks

Applying a hair mask once a week is a great way to treat your dry and itchy scalp. And the best part is, you don’t need to rummage through your kitchen to find ingredients to make a good hair mask.

Final Thoughts

Pregnancy is beautiful, but it comes with its own set of problems. Itchy scalp is one of them. Thankfully, you can treat your itchy scalp if you know what’s causing it. If it is your hormones, talk to your doctor to find a solution to help balance them. Drink water, exercise, eat healthy, stay stress-free, sleep well, take supplements, and take care of your hair during pregnancy by implementing the solutions mentioned above. Your scalp itching will reduce in a few weeks’ time.

An itchy scalp during pregnancy is a common issue. It may cause discomfort, but thankfully, you can get rid of the itching once you know the causes. Pregnancy may cause various changes in your body, like hormonal changes, which may cause an itchy scalp. Sometimes, external issues like buildup and dandruff may also cause itching. Consult a doctor to identify the exact reason and follow their advice to reduce itching and maintain a healthy scalp during pregnancy. Also, follow the tips discussed in the article to take care of your hair.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does my scalp feel sore during pregnancy?

Your scalp may feel sore due to hormonal changes, which is quite common in pregnant women. It could also be due to a pre-existing medical condition. We suggest you talk to your doctor and a dermatologist to get the best help.

Can I wash my hair during pregnancy?

Of course, you can wash your hair during pregnancy. One should keep the scalp sweat-free to prevent itchy scalp. However, use a shampoo and conditioner that are paraben-free, sulfate-free, and coal tar-free.

What causes dry scalp during pregnancy?

Hormonal fluctuations, dehydration, stress, not washing your hair, and dandruff can cause a dry scalp during pregnancy.

Key Takeaways

  • A skin condition called cholestasis causes itchy hands, feet, and scalp during pregnancy.
  • It may be caused by hormonal changes, dehydration, or stress.
  • Keeping yourself hydrated, engaging in physical exercise, and using essential oils are some of the ways to reduce dryness and nourish your scalp.
  • You can also use paraben and sulfate-free shampoo, hair oil, and hair masks to reduce scalp itching.


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Dr. Divya Sharma

Dr. Divya Sharma is a renowned dermatologist and hair expert with over 14 years of experience dealing with all skin... more