Bad nerves, or anxiety, can be the root of many physical symptoms, including a dry, itchy scalp. Feelings of anxiety can increase sweat production body-wide, including on the scalp. The sweat removes moisture from the scalp and causes dryness and itching. The more you itch, the more anxious you feel and the more you sweat. It's a vicious cycle, but can be broken by treating the scalp and, more importantly, by treating the anxiety.
Your dry, itchy scalp may be accompanied by symptoms of dandruff -- white, oily flakes of dead skin that dot your hair and shoulders. The scalp might appear scaly. Scratching may irritate the scalp, creating dry, painful, red patches that may bleed and form scabs. A dry, itchy scalp accompanied by dandruff can be embarrassing. You may struggle with the urge to scratch your scalp in public and you might avoid wearing black clothes so that your dandruff is less noticeable.
Your dry, itchy scalp is a direct reaction to the chemicals that are released in your body when you are anxious, according to the Calm Clinic website. In times of stress, the body releases adrenaline and other chemicals that cause physical symptoms, including a dry, itchy scalp. Your symptoms may get worse in the winter when the air is cold and often dry and indoor heating further dries out the skin and scalp.
Using over-the-counter dandruff shampoos will usually clear up dandruff and soothe your dry, itchy scalp. Not all dandruff shampoos are alike. They target dandruff in different ways and contain different active ingredients. You may have to experiment with several products before you find one that is effective for you. If over-the-counter shampoos do not improve the condition of your scalp, your doctor or dermatologist may recommend and prescribe a strong shampoo or steroid lotion for you.
Although treating your scalp might be beneficial, it could be ignoring the root of the problem -- anxiety. Until you treat the underlying anxiety, it will be difficult to break the itchy scalp cycle. You may want to consider trying relaxation techniques, like deep breathing, when you are feeling anxious. Yoga may also help to decrease stress and anxiety. If you suffer from severe anxiety and panic attacks, you may need to seek professional help. Counseling and medication may be effective in controlling your anxiety.
Tea tree oil may be effective in treating a dry, itchy scalp because of its antiseptic, antibiotic and antifungal properties. Tea tree oil can be applied to the scalp as an essential oil or it is now included in many natural shampoos that can be purchased in natural food stores.