why do my dreads itch?

Why Do My Dreads Itch?

Dreadlock Tips and Tricks
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Throughout my dreadlock journey, I’ve encountered many people who have asked me how to stop their dreads from making their scalp itch. While it appears to be a common problem, there are easy solutions to this annoying occurrence.

One of the most annoying things many people face with their dreadlocks is an itchy scalp. There are several reasons for the itchiness and they include not washing your hair often enough, over-washing your hair, using too many products or heavy products, and genetic issues such as eczema. Let’s look into ways to prevent an itchy scalp with dreads.

Not Washing You Dreads Enough

Dreadlock shampoo wash

It is a common misconception that people with dreadlocks do not or are not suppose to wash their hair. When I first looked into getting dreadlocks, I went to a hairdresser who informed me that if I wanted to get manicured locks, I would need to stop washing my hair for three months that way my hair could lock faster. This couldn’t be any further from the truth.

People assume that if you stop washing your hair, your hair will lock up faster. Because of this false idea, people end up with very itchy scalps. When you neglect to wash your hair, all of the dirt, dust, oils, dead skin cells and product residue build up in your hair and on top of your scalp. When all of this dirt and grime sit on top of your scalp, it prevents the pores on your scalp from breathing causing it to itch.

Your Scalp Needs To Breath

Imagine your scalp being just like your face. If you were to not wash your face and put lotions and oils all over it for months, eventually your face will itch and your pores would clog leading to lots of acne among other issues. The same idea goes for your scalp.

The most common solution to itchy scalps with dreads is to wash your hair regularly. Your scalp needs to remain clean in order to allow your pores to deliver oxygen to the hair follicles on your head. Neglecting to wash your hair regularly can lead to hair thinning, hair loss, and scalp acne. Stick to a wash routine and follow it.

If you’re unsure of how to wash your dreads, check out my blog post on “How To Properly Wash Dreadlocks”.

This will ensure that you get all of the dirt and oils out of your locks every time to prevent having to cut them off in the future.

Washing Your Dreads Too Often

Woman with dreadlocks, why do my dreads itch?

While this is a less common reason for having an itchy scalp with dreadlocks, it’s an important topic to recognize. While many people tend to not wash their hair enough, some people over wash their hair which can lead to some minor issues. But how does washing your hair too often affect your scalp?

By over-washing your hair, you end up removing the important oils released by your scalp that help to keep your hair and scalp moisturized, thus creating an environment that leads to dry, flaky, and itchy scalp. Washing your dreads too often can also cause your hair to become dry and brittle which can lead to breakage.

It’s important to know when it is the right time for you to wash your hair. Since everyone’s hair and lifestyles are different, there is no “one-size-fits-all” when it comes to how often someone should wash their dreadlocks.

A good rule of thumb to follow when figuring out if you should wash your dreads is if your hair feels oily and dirty, it’s time to wash it. You know what your hair feels like when it’s clean so when it no longer feels and looks clean, wash it.

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Using Too Many Products

Black man standing with dreadlocks
Why do my dreads itch?

The beginning stages of dreadlocking are generally filled with excitement and wonder as many newcomers are interested in finding the best methods and products for their hair. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by all of the information out there regarding dreadlocks and people tend to over-analyze their hair care plan.

Unfortunately, there are many companies out there that prey on those wanting dreadlocks. These companies tell you that you need certain products made just for dreadlocks to achieve your desired look. While it is important to choose hair products that are right for you, it is also important to note that you do not need to use “special” products for dreads.

People generally assume that if you use gels, beeswax, hair lotions, or creams, you’ll have the perfect dreads in no time. This, however, can cause more harm than good to your hair. By using too many products or products that are very heavy on your hair such as waxes and creams, you’ll end up suffocating not only your hair follicles but also your scalp which will lead to itchiness and major buildup within your dreads.

Instead of using heavy products, try to stick with products that a lightweight like moisturizing mists or natural products like pure aloe vera gel. These products will deliver the moisture and nutrients you need without weighing down your hair and clogging the pores on your scalp.

Genetics May Play a Role In Scalp Itch

While the most common reasons for itchy scalp with dreadlocks are not washing your hair enough, washing too much, or using too many products, some people may have itchy scalp because of genetics.

While the direct cause of genetic conditions like eczema and psoriasis is unknown, it is important to know that there are ways to help soothe the unwelcome effects. Scalp eczema, also known as seborrheic dermatitis, is known to cause inflamed, itchy, dry and flaky scalp. Scalp psoriasis is another condition that causes reddish, itchy, raised, scaly patches on the skin.

Conditions like these are typically mild but can be severe and you should contact your doctor if these problems worsen. Although they can not be treated, there are ways to help lessen the irritation.

Topical medications such as coal tar and salicylic acid are typically suggested to help ease the discomfort and can be found in over-the-counter shampoos. Dreadlocks do not create these conditions but those with genetic scalp conditions may find that having dreads cause more irritation and may want to reconsider the products they’re using or hairstyle.


Although many people have experienced itchy scalp with dreads, there’s usually a simple solution to preventing itchiness. One solution is to wash your hair more often. Neglecting to wash your hair regularly leads to a buildup of products, oils, dirt, and skin cells on your scalp. This prevents the pores on your scalp from breathing which causes itchiness and irritation.

Another solution to itchy scalp is to not wash your hair as frequently. Over washing your dreads can prevent your scalp from delivering the necessary oils it needs to stay moisturized. This can cause dry, flaky, itchy scalp.

Using too many products, the wrong products, or hair products that are heavy will also lead to an irritated itchy scalp. By layering too many oils, creams, and waxes on your hair, you will end up clogging the pores on your scalp which can cause scalp acne and itch.

Lastly, there are genetic factors that may play a role in having itchy dreads which may include conditions such as eczema or psoriasis. Although there is no treatment for such conditions, you can alleviate the symptoms with shampoos or products containing medications such as coal tar or salicylic acid.

  • This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.