Can Stress and Anxiety Cause an Itchy Scalp?
To mark World Mental Health Day we wanted to shine a light on COVID stress, and the way that stress can cause an itchy scalp.
According to the ONS (Office of National Statistics), 69% of adults in the UK claim that the COVID-19 pandemic is (unsurprisingly) having a negative effect on their life, with 63% worrying about the future and 56% feeling stressed or anxious.
If you've been feeling the pressure yourself, you might have noticed your scalp becoming itchy (which roughly 75% of people suffer from). And there's a medical reason for this, according to MONPURE resident dermatologist Dr Sue Ann Chan.
The Link Between Stress and Itchy Scalp
“Stress whether acute or chronic doesn’t just affect our mental health; our skin is one of the main organs acutely affected by it. Where the scalp-skin is concerned, stress can cause our underlying skin conditions to become worse or even trigger a severe flare up. These include inflammatory skin conditions such as atopic eczema, psoriasis and seborrhoeic dermatitis (which leads to dandruff) – the latter being the most common cause of an itchy scalp."
The Science of Stress and the Scalp
So how can stress cause an itchy scalp? "Stress raises levels of androgens (male hormones) in our body,” Dr Chan explains. “This causes our scalp to become oilier, which dandruff-causing yeast love to feed on (hence the itching)."
If you’re looking for ways to ease your stress levels, there are plenty of relaxation apps you can download to help guide you, especially if going to a therapist or meditation class isn’t possible at the moment. As well as guided meditation apps (Headspace; 10% Happier), others can offer breathing exercises (MyLife) and sleep coaching (Slumber; Sleep Cycle) if you’re finding it difficult to nod off.
Combating Stress-Induced Scalp Itch
When it comes to your scalp, regular exfoliation with MONPURE's Clarifying Scalp Scrub can help ease the symptoms of itchiness, with jojoba beads to get rid of excess debris, sweeping away dead, flaky skin and reinvigorating the skin underneath. While the scrub exfoliates manually, our Nourish and Stimulate Scalp Mask contains resurfacing lactic acid to exfoliate on a more microscopic level, together with argan oil to deliver a hefty hit of hydration. But the real jewel in the crown where scalp itching is concerned (especially if you don’t have time to wash your hair everyday) is our Hydrate and Soothe Scalp Serum which intensely soothes itching with witch hazel and allantoin (a comfrey root extract) that are both renowned for their ability to calm irritation.