Itching can be experienced any time of the day however, it has been discovered that itching tends worsen around nightfall (nocturnal pruritus). This can be very exasperating especially when it affect the usual sleep cycles.
What exactly causes scalp itching at night and why does it tend to exaggerate at night? Here, you`ll discover scalp itching at night causes, symptoms and treatments. You are also going to learn why your scalp itch may aggravate during nighttime.
To begin the discussion, we would like to make it clear that, disorders, conditions or diseases that can cause itching in scalp during the day can also cause itchy scalp at night. However, many studies and researches have shown that itching condition usually worsen at night (though this nighttime aggravation is not common in everybody).
Therefore, before we uncover causes of scalp itching at night, let as start by exploring these theories to clarify what may lead intense scalp itching at or nocturnal pruritus.
- Why Itching or Itchy Scalp intensify at Night?
- Itchy Scalp Causes at Night
- Symptoms of Itchy Scalp at Night
- How to relieve nighttime scalp itch?
- Treatments for Itchy Scalp at Night
- When to call a doctor
Why Itching or Itchy Scalp intensify at Night?
To be able to give clear reasons why itchiness on scalp at night is common, here are the common theories you need to know.
Circadian Rhythm (Internal Clock)
The circadian rhythm or internal lock refers physical, mental, and behavioral changes your body goes through within 24-hour period on daily basis. These changes respond to your light or dark environment, that is why they vary during the day or nighttime.
Some hormones do increase during specific times of the day and may influence certain body actions. Therefore, some processes that may independently or mutually contribute to itching or aggravate scalp itch at night:
Water loss through the skin usually intensify at night. This can lead to dry itchy skin or make the skin to be more prone to the notorious irritants.
Skin temperature usually tend to rise at night, this can aggravate itching in body through increasing activities on your skin.
Decrease in Corticosteroid levels
The levels of corticosteroids decreases during nighttime. This will lead to temporary dropping of anti-inflammatory effect resulting to increase in itching with skin conditions causing inflammation.
Usually, parasympathetic activity increases at night whereas sympathetic activities increases in the morning. These two changes in the autonomic nervous system can contribute to itching anywhere in the body or intensify it.
Natural pain-relieving agents
When the circadian rhythm is deformed, natural pain relieving agent may increase at night instead of increasing in the morning. Reduced pain is usually related with increased sensitivity to itching.
Cytokine and prostaglandin
In unbalanced circadian rhythm, itching in body can be due to cytokine and prostaglandin. Substances such as interleukin (IL-2, IL-8, and IL-31) can affect the inflammatory outcome of your skin.
Normally as we sleep, the energy and stimulus levels in our body usually go down. This generally make our body or rather skin to become more conscious of conditions such as itching however how mild it may seem to be.
If this is summed up with severe skin conditions, your sleep patterns may be disturbed. “Without a proper REM cycle, you can experience changes in mood and physical symptoms,” says Doctorshealthpress.com.
Bed linen and nighttime clothing
Skin itching at night man also be associated with your bed, bed linen and your clothing before you tire to bed. Some insects such as lice can hide on the bed, in the bed line or even in the clothing.
According to Healthtype.com, “Some insects are night feeders and are therefore more likely to cause symptoms at night.” If you have house mite allergy, then you may also experience itching worsening at night since these organisms often infest in the mattress and become active at this time. Wool blankets can also cause inflammation in some skin conditions
Most of the three discussed conditions above usually aggravate itching at night, although only a few may because direct itching. This means that there are other primary causes whose symptoms can be worsened by the above conditions (they usually aggravate already existing itching condition).
Itchy Scalp Causes at Night
Scalp itch at night may be due something that started during the day time and extends to nighttime. It can also involve something specifically affecting the whole body or specific to scalp only at night.
Here are the common causes of Itch scalp at Night:
Itchy scalp at night can be caused by certain skin diseases such as psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, Seborrheic dermatitis, hives and dry scalp skin (xeroderma). These skin conditions can lead to itchy scalp and hair loss. There are wide range of factors that can trigger these skin condition but many of them are treatable.
Various chronic diseases can lead to very itchy scalp at night. Diseases such as chronic kidney disorder, liver and blood disorders are associated with scalp itching at night. Chickenpox can also lead to intense itching all over the body including the scalp.
This is a common cause of increased itching at night. Insects such as mosquitos, bed bugs, mites and lice can raid your scalp at night leading to itching or intensified itching at night. Some of these insects are night-feeders and therefore their increased activities at night can lead to itching or worsen already existing itching.
Some medications can also increase or cause very itchy scalp as their side effect. You might have taken them during the day or when you go to bed, they can still lead to nighttime itching all over your body including scalp. Examples of such medications include opioid analgesics, statins and allopurinol medications and more.
When there is increased activity of the thyroid gland, this may be associated with abnormal thickening of the skin. This may result to red patches on the skin and may lead to scalp itching at night.
Remember, usually our skin get dry when exposed to high temperature and hot showers could lead to dryness. Hot shower will wash away the protective oil layer in your scalp leaving it very dry which could be the reason for the itchy sensation.
The following are less common causes of itchy scalp:
- Pregnancy and menopause
- Anxiety and stress
- Nerve Disorders such as diabetes and multiple sclerosis
- Skin cancer
Symptoms of Itchy Scalp at Night
The major symptom of scalp irritation at night is the urge to scratch the scalp skin. There are also cases where itchy scalp at night do occur alongside other visible symptoms such as redness, dryness, patches and bumps on the scalp skin.
People also have cases when the visible signs may not be seen, especially itchy scalp due to internal conditions. The seriousness of the symptoms occurring alongside itchy scalp at night will depend on the causes.
Itchy scalp at night may be a symptom of a serious health condition that can be life threatening and thus, any symptom must be taken serious, whether mild or severe. You may not know the underlying health risk! Read on to explore the most of the effective remedies for nighttime itchy scalp.
How to relieve nighttime scalp itch?
You can attempt to relieve itch scalp at night following the below remedies which can even prevent the reoccurrence of this bothering condition.
- Always use unscented soaps since antibacterial and perfumed soaps can draw the moisture from your scalp skin causing itchiness
- Make sure to bathe in the evening to get rid of oil, sweat and dead skin cells build-up on your scalp. Use lukewarm water (or apply cold compress) since hot water can make your skin dry leading to more problems
- Moisturize your body using moisturizer meant for dry skins. Moisturizing your scalp skin after bathing or shower will help relieve itchiness and top up your skin oil.
- Make sure to also frequently change your bed sheets. If you can’t afford this, then you can expose your bed linen on direct sunlight to get rid of dust mites and bacteria.
- You can also use mattress protector or flip the mattress weekly to remove microscopic organisms. If you are well of, then you may need to change the mattress.
- Use lightweight fabrics that cannot raise your body temperature. Remember as your body temperature rises, the itching may also aggravate.
- It is also very important to sleep in well-ventilated room to reduce body temperature and sweating that may stimulate dry itchy scalp.
- Call for pest control agent to get rid of lice, fleas, scabies mites that may lead to very itchy scalp at night.
- Avoid scratching your itchy scalp skin. Scratching can spread bacterial infections. In addition, make sure your nails are cut short to avoid spreading infections.
- There are also wonderful home products that can be used to reduce or prevent scalp itch at night. They include; coconut oil, lemon juice, tea tree oil, baking soda, aloe vera, apple cider vinegar, neem oil and lavender oil and more.
Treatments for Itchy Scalp at Night
In some cases, the remedies discussed above may not be adequate enough to reduce or prevent itchy scalp at night. In these circumstances, the itching may be due to an underlying skin disease or more chronic conditions. Therefore, your doctor may recommend various treatment options depending on a specific itchy scalp causes. Below are treatments options that your doctor may recommend:
- Application of antihistamines to relieve severe itchy scalp due to allergies
- Corticosteroids can also be prescribed to reduce scalp itch due to imbalance circadian rhythm.
- Calcineurin inhibitors are also alternatives for corticosteroids. They work by suppressing the immune activity.
- The application of phototherapy with some wavelength of UV light can also be applicable. This can also help to relieve the menace of itching in scalp.
- In cases of psychogenic, anti-depressants therapies can also aid the relief of skin itching anywhere on your body including the scalp.
When to call a doctor
If all the above attempts fail to bear any fruit, contact your doctor for further guidance or stronger medications since, the itching in scalp at night may be due to severe veiled medical conditions that can be life threating.
Our List of References
- Itching at Night: Causes and Treatments for Nighttime Itching: http://www.doctorshealthpress.com/skin-care-articles/itching-at-night-causes-and-treatments-for-nighttime-itching
- Nighttime Itching Reasons, Causes, Remedies, Treatment: http://www.healthhype.com/nighttime-itching-reasons-causes-remedies-treatment.html
- What Causes Itchy Skin at Night: http://www.livestrong.com/article/212650-what-causes-itchy-skin-at-night/
- What Is Causing Your Itchy Scalp: http://www.everydayhealth.com/news/what-is-causing-your-itchy-scalp/
- Itch (Itching or Pruritus): http://www.medicinenet.com/itch/page2.htm
- What Can Make Your Scalp Dry: http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/features/other-causes#1
- What causes itchy scalp? 4 possible conditions: http://www.healthline.com/symptom/itchy-scalp