Dry, itchy scalp is basically the worst. It’s second only to dandruff when it comes to neck-up skin care discomfort, in my humble opinion. Unlike a breakout, you can’t slap a pimple patch on an itchy scalp, and there’s no makeup out there — yet! — that can conceal a flaky scalp. Luckily, when it comes to how to get rid of itchy scalp, there are some dermatologist-approved solutions.
While there’s no fool-proof way to get rid of dandruff fast, there are ways to minimize dandruff, itchy scalp, and dry scalp, says dermatologist Dr. Daniel Sugai,
a TikTok sensation and scalp care expert. “Many people don’t know this, but dandruff is actually a predisposition we are born with in our DNA,” he tells Elite Daily, “and not because of lack of hygiene! Dandruff is caused by a pesky yeast called Malassezia, which everyone has on their scalp.”
Dealing with Malassezia is best done with a small group of effective ingredients. Dr. Sugai specifically recommends checking labels for zinc pyrithione and selenium sulfide. “The best and most effective way to treat dandruff is with continued use of an anti-dandruff shampoo and conditioner,” he says. Unfortunately, there’s no permanent cure “as this is a chronic condition that waxes and wanes,” but there are products out there that can offer quick relief from the symptoms of dandruff.
Beyond the tried and true zinc pyrithione and selenium sulfide, which work best for dandruff, there are a number of other ingredients that can help soothe an itchy or dry scalp, according to Gretchen Firese, a certified trichologist. “Tea tree oil is great for soothing an itchy scalp,” Firese says. “You can also do an apple cider rinse.” She also recommends keeping the scalp hydrated with natural ingredients like aloe vera and olive oil.
The following 14 shampoos, conditioners, scrubs, and serums are all top-rated products, and according to dermatologists, they contain ingredients that should offer you some serious relief.
We at Elite Daily only include products that have been independently selected by our editors. We may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article. Menthol-Infused Fast Relief Spray
This scalp treatment has an average rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars based on over 7,000 Amazon reviews. Its main active ingredient is pyrithione zinc, one of the two Dr. Sugai recommends for combating dandruff. “This stuff is amazing. My scalp has massive issues (I don’t have psoriasis but it almost looks like I do) certain times of year it will literally peel off in chunks, and it’s almost always dry. I’ve tried every shampoo and cleanser and mask out there. This stuff was a game-changer,” wrote one of many satisfied customers.
Top-Rated Silicone Scalp Massager
“Using a scalp massage to treat itchy or dry scalp is beneficial,” says Friese. “It can help distribute the scalp’s natural oils throughout and help relieve some of the dryness.” This scalp massager has a rating of 4.6 out of 5 based on over 115,000 reviews, with one reviewer reporting “instant improvement on the amount of dandruff present after my first use.”
Flake-Reducing Scalp Comb
“Usually, an itchy scalp is caused by a buildup of oil, hair product, or dry skin,” says Firese. This exfoliating comb could help to break up buildup on the scalp. It also comes highly recommended, especially for itchy scalp, with a rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars based on nearly 1,000 reviews.
“I've had an itchy scalp for years. Shampooing with a bit of baking soda and apple cider vinegar rinse helps. But one cannot do that regularly, and itching will start up again,” shared one reviewer who went on to add that after the very first use, “all the itching was gone.”
Cooling Pre-Shampoo Dandruff Scrub
Tea tree oil, one of Firese’s recommended ingredients, is front and center in this pre-shampoo scrub. The product has a rating of 4.2 out of 5 stars on Amazon and is considered a life-changer by some customers. “My scalp feels so clean and I have absolutely no little specs and flakes anymore. After one use, this has completely eradicated all of the buildup and junk on my scalp. My hair is also the softest it has been in my adult life, and looks fantastic. I even cried a little because I have been dealing with dandruff for years with no relief,” shared one happy shopper.
Ultra-Moisturizing Selenium Sulfide Shampoo
Selsun Blue is a brand well-known to most folks suffering from dandruff — I used it myself for dry scalp issues back in the day — and with good reason. It contains selenium sulfide, which is a powerful ingredient for combating dandruff, according to Sugai. Amazon shoppers also love Selsun Blue, and this particular anti-dandruff shampoo has a rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars based on 9,500 reviews.
Refreshing ACV And Peppermint Scalp Serum
ACV is one ingredient Firese recommends using as a rinse for an itchy scalp. This serum has a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars based on 1,300 reviews, and includes cooling peppermint along with apple cider vinegar. “This stuff is AMAZING!!!! I have horrible scalp buildup (itchy and flakey),” shared one customer who went on to add, “This takes care of it. I use it about twice a week and my scalp and hair feel so great! Plus side it smells super good too!!!”
Soothing Tea Tree Oil-Infused Scalp Treatment
This scalp treatment has an average rating of 4.3 out of 5 stars based on over 15,000 reviews, many of which mention that the tea tree oil — an ingredient recommended by Firese — works better than medicated options they tried. “I purchased this after being diagnosed with dermatitis on my scalp. I've been using prescription shampoo for the dermatitis, however, it dries out my scalp terribly,” shared one customer. “I put just a little of this on the dry areas and it works wonderfully,” they added.
Detox Shampoo For Itchy Scalps
This shampoo from OAUI is adored by users who struggled to balance their overall scalp health after treating scalp conditions. It also contains ACV, an ingredient Firese recommends. “I noticed how itchy my scalp was getting from my workouts. I cannot tell you how good my scalp and hair feels after using this once a week for three weeks,” wrote one happy customer.
Hydrating ACV Shampoo And Conditioner
WOW Skin Science’s ACV shampoo and conditioner duo has a rating of 4 out of 5 stars based on 69,000 reviews. It’s effective on itchy scalp and dry scalp, with one reviewer sharing that they were shook by their fast results. “A huge psoriasis patch near the bottom of my hairline is totally GONE after just one wash, and my hair is so soft and light. I'm honestly shook, y'all,” they wrote.
Fast-Acting Tea Tree Oil 2-in-1
I usually don’t get on the internet and start recommending two-in-one hair products, but this one is apparently the real deal. Not only does it contain tea tree oil, but it also has a rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars based on 4,400 reviews. “I am so happy with the results I can finally make a hair appointment at the salon again without feeling embarrassed about my scalp,” shared one reviewer. “You can tell the difference as soon as the first time. Itchiness and other problems linked to dandruff and such are relieved, I'd say pretty quick,” wrote another.
Dandruff Bar Soap For Flaky Scalps
This shampoo bar features one of Sugai’s most recommended ingredients: pyrithione zinc. It has a rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars based on 4,000 reviews and can be used on the body as well as the scalp. “I had an itchy scalp for years (no dandruff) and normal shampoo didn’t help, but this stuff did. Initially, I had to use it to wash my hair every day, then soon after only every other day. My scalp no longer itches and all bumps have gone away,” wrote one loyal customer.
ACV Hair Rinse To Soften Hair
Another buildup buster, this ACV rinse has an average rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars and is adored by curly-haired folks who deal with dry scalp and hard water issues. One customer shared, “I was having issues with dry scalp, and my hair was just lifeless and limp and just not healthy looking or feeling. Let me tell you, you need this in your life! It is so invigorating, and it makes your hair so unbelievably silky, soft, and it just makes your hair feel so clean!”
Organic Aloe Vera-Infused Shampoo and Conditioner
For those who like their hair care products organic, this shampoo and conditioner set from Avalon Organics could be a great choice. It contains salicylic acid to exfoliate the scalp along with two of Firese’s recommended ingredients: tea tree oil and aloe vera.
Instant Relief Scalp Mist
For folks with ongoing severe itchy scalp, Sugai recommends
Head & Shoulders Clinical Itch Relief Scalp Mist ($11, Target) as an alternative to constant scratching. “You can use it at any time of the day and between washes. It works to soothe itch related to dandruff, and provides relief from irritation,” he says. Experts Cited: Dr. Daniel Sugai, MD, FAAD, board-certified dermatologist Gretchen Firese, certified trichologist and salon director Don't miss a thing
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