Dermatological responses

Sensitive scalp

 A reality for 44% of the French population*

* Misery L, Sibaud V, Ambonati M, Macy G,Boussetta S, Taïeb C. "Sensitive scalp: does this condition exist? An epidemiological study". Contact dermatitis Vol 58, n°4, April 2008.

What is a sensitive scalp?

The skin is a complete organ that contains nerve fibers and neuromediators. This enables us to feel itching, tingling and tightness, especially on the scalp, which is rich in nerve endings. These symptoms can be an indication of a scalp disease (hair loss, dandruff condition, dermatosis). However, when these symptoms appear in an isolated manner, they are defined as sensitive scalp.
Sensitive scalp is characterized by a group of unpleasant sensations related to the sensitive skin syndrome, the most commonly occurring being pruritus (or itching) which triggers the desire to scratch. 
Sensitive scalp is a common clinical reality. An epidemiological study using a questionnaire shows that 44.2% of the French population (47.4% of women) claims to have sensitive scalp.

What causes sensitive scalp?

Itching, tingling and tightness in a sensitive scalp are triggered by several factors:

    Dry air,
        Heat or cold,
        Excessive brushing
        Certain hairstyles (weaves, tight braids)
        Unsuitable shampoos ...

Itchy scalp. Why? How?

In 1660, Samuel Haffenreffer defined pruritus or itching as an unpleasant cutaneous sensation that elicits the desire to scratch.
This itching is called "primary" because it is not linked to any disorder that triggers itching of the scalp. It also requires adapted, specific treatment.

Itching (or pruritus) is one of the most common symptoms of sensitive scalp.  It is reported by more than 38% of people in France who claim to have a sensitive scalp.
The scalp is highly innervated: there are approximately 600 nerve endings per cm² of skin. These nerve endings are found in the skin (the dermis and the epidermis) and are activated by stimuli such as heat, cold, mechanical pressure, etc. These stimuli are perceived as external aggression by a person suffering from sensitive scalp. The message produced and sent to the central nervous system is transcribed in the brain in the form of sensory perception. Itching, tightness, tingling and burning are all sensations that trigger the urge to scratch the scalp.

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from our experts
Can I get dandruff if I have a sensitive scalp?
In general, the itching linked to sensitive scalp often reveals an accompanying dandruff condition. However, this isn't always the case, and some dandruff conditions are not associated with sensitive scalp.
Is a dry scalp more sensitive than an oily scalp?
No. Surveys have revealed that the effects of scalp sensitivity were more or less the same for people with a dry, oily or normal scalp.
Can sensitive scalp be a lifelong condition?
No sufficiently precise research has been done to be certain of this. But by analogy with sensitive skin, we can assume that scalp sensitivity reduces with age. However, the essential prognostic factor remains the use of adapted hygiene and skin care products.