We all love the look and feel of clean, healthy, shiny hair (cue dramatic slow-motion hair toss!), but did you know that the secret to healthy hair is a healthy scalp? We can help you understand the ins and outs of scalp health, and ways you can take care of both your scalp and your luscious locks.

Sensitive, dry, itchy, flaky scalps: signs and causes

Just like your skin, your scalp can be sensitive or become dry and itchy, and sometimes even flaky.

How to recognise a sensitive or dry scalp

If you have a sensitive scalp, you may experience sensations such as stinging or burning, itching, or tingling in response to things that wouldn’t normally cause a scalp to feel that way. This is basically your scalp telling you that it doesn’t like what it’s being exposed to!

Much like dry skin, a dry scalp can occur when the skin on your head doesn’t have enough moisture. This dryness can lead to irritation, itching, and even flaking of the scalp’s skin.

Have you ever looked down at your shirt and wondered if you’d been caught in a snowstorm – and then realised with horror that it’s actually flakes from your scalp? A flaky scalp can occur with a dry, itchy scalp, but dandruff is another common reason for an itchy, flaky scalp. Dandruff occurs when dead skin cells build-up on the scalp and then flake off in larger clumps that typically appear white or yellow. When you have a dry, flaky scalp, the flakes in your hair or on your clothes are usually small and white.

Causes of a sensitive, dry, itchy, flaky scalp

Symptoms associated with scalp sensitivity can be triggered by different factors, including hair care products, environmental factors such as sun exposure, wind, cold, or heat, and for some people stress may play a role. In particular, some haircare products can be harsh and strip the scalp of its natural oils, leaving the skin dry and irritated.

For people who experience a dry, flaky scalp or dandruff, it’s not about how clean or dirty your hair is! A dry, flaky scalp can result from a range of things including loss of moisture and oil in your scalp and hair, your age, environmental factors, and haircare products.

Dandruff is generally caused by a combination of factors including how much oil your scalp produces, the presence of a naturally occurring yeast on your scalp, and how likely you are to experience scalp irritation (which is related to your genes and skin sensitivity).

These aren’t the only reasons you may have a sensitive, dry, itchy, or flaky scalp, so if you have any concerns or questions, you should talk to your doctor.

Best haircare for sensitive, dry, itchy, flaky scalps?

When it comes to choosing a shampoo and conditioner to care for your scalp, it’s important to look for products that are specifically formulated for sensitive or dry scalps that are prone to itching or flaking.

Haircare to soothe and nourish the scalp

Shampoos that contain gentle, non-irritating cleansers can help avoid irritation and soothe a sensitive or dry, itchy scalp. For people with oily hair that may be prone to flaking or dandruff, a shampoo that provides gentle but effective deep cleansing can help to remove the build-up of sebum (your scalp’s natural oil) as well as styling products. After shampooing, using a conditioner that contains hydrating and nourishing ingredients is important to help soothe and moisturise your sensitive or dry scalp – with the added bonus of leaving your hair feeling super soft and silky!

The Dermaveen Hair + Scalp range for sensitive scalps

If you’re looking for a haircare for a sensitive scalp, check out the Dermaveen Hair + Scalp range of dermatologically tested haircare that effectively cleanses your scalp and hair with a gentle, hypoallergenic, pH balanced formula designed specifically for sensitive skin.

The Dermaveen Hair + Scalp Soothing Oatmeal Shampoo and Conditioner contains OatActiv+® to provide 6 in 1 skin benefits to soothe and nourish your scalp while gently cleansing and hydrating your hair. The Dermaveen Hair + Scalp Soothing Oatmeal Conditioner also contains Pro Vitamin B5 to leave your hair feeling soft and silky.

For those with a sensitive scalp who also need to keep oily hair in check, look for the new Dermaveen Hair + Scalp Deep Cleanse Shampoo and Conditioner range. It contains nourishing colloidal oatmeal and soothing witch hazel – providing a gentle yet effective deep cleansing shampoo for sensitive, flaky scalps and to help manage dandruff. The deep cleansing formula helps to remove unwanted build-up and product residues that diminish your hair’s lovely shine – with daily use clinically proven to decrease scalp oiliness by 76%  and increase hair shine by 19% after 72 hours.*

For those with a sensitive scalp plus dry or damaged hair, the new Dermaveen Hair + Scalp Extra Hydration Shampoo and Conditioner are formulated with colloidal oatmeal,jojoba esters, and hyaluronic acid to nourish dry, damaged hair and soothe sensitive scalps. This hydrating and nourishing formula is clinically proven to retain moisture in the hair for 72 hours and prevent hair breakage.

Tips to manage sensitive scalps

Once you’ve found the right shampoo and conditioner to suit your scalp’s needs, here are some other tips to help care for your sensitive, dry, itchy, or flaky scalp.

  • Avoid products that irritate your scalp – this is a no brainer really, if it doesn’t feel good, don’t use it!
  • Wash your hair as often as it needs – you may find that daily washing helps limit the build-up of sebum on your scalp, keeping your hair clean and scalp less itchy or flaky. On the flip side, less frequent washing may help reduce irritation and sensitivity on your scalp.
  • Check your technique – when you’re washing and styling your hair, be gentle with your scalp and remember to rinse really well to make sure that no shampoo is left sitting on your scalp
  • Take care of your body as well as your hair – drink water to stay hydrated, follow a healthy diet, and manage your stress

*Based on clinical test on 22 subjects, 2023.
vs control. Based on instrumental test, 2023.

Sensitive, dry, itchy, flaky scalp FAQs


While there are many different reasons you may have an itchy or sensitive scalp, stress and other emotions can play a role in how your scalp feels.


Yes! A dry scalp occurs when your scalp doesn’t have enough moisture, which can lead to itching and flaking, while dandruff occurs when dead skin cells build-up on an oily scalp and then flake off in larger clumps.


Dandruff causes typically involve a combination of factors including how oily your scalp is, a naturally occurring yeast on your scalp, and how sensitive your scalp is.


If you have a sensitive scalp, you should avoid any haircare products or ingredients that you know cause irritation or reactions.