Treating your itchy scalp can be as easy as picking up a bottle of anti-dandruff shampoo from your grocery store or pharmacy. But many of these shampoos contain potentially harmful ingredients and don’t necessarily treat the underlying cause of the dandruff.

What is dandruff anyway? Most often, dandruff is just dry, dead skin cells, according to the Mayo Clinic. The skin flakes off your scalp, leaving you with unsightly white flakes in your hair and sometimes on your shoulders. Less often, dandruff can be caused by overly oily skin, eczema, certain hair products and a fungus called malassezia, which lives on the scalp of most adults, but only irritates some. (Lucky you!) Chemical shampoos work mostly by reducing the natural fungus on your scalp or by slowing the process of how skin cells die.

If you don’t want to use chemical shampoos, you have options. There are some great home remedies you can try that can be effective for treating a dry, itchy scalp.

bowl of sliced lemons - lemons can help heal itchy scalpLemons are tasty, pretty — and they can do all sorts of magical things including helping heal your scalp. (Photo: natashamam/Shutterstock)

1. Lemon juice. Because of its antiseptic properties, lemon juice can help ease your itchy head. Try pouring or spraying some lemon juice on your scalp. It can be fresh lemon juice or from a bottle. If the problem is mild, you can dilute it with water first. Leave it on for 5-10 minutes, then rinse it out. You can use this remedy daily. It also might lighten up your hair color a bit if you’re looking for some natural highlights. (Although it didn’t do much for me in the summer between ninth and 10th grade.)

2. Baking soda. I love this one. In my house, baking soda is my go-to cleaning ingredient. Turns out it’s not only great on your toilets and stovetop, it also works wonders on your hair! Baking soda’s alkaline nature helps balance out the pH of your hair and to relieve itchiness. Just make a paste with baking soda and water and rub onto your scalp. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes and then rinse it out.

3. Banana and avocado. If you’re looking for a remedy that smells like you’ve just been to a Caribbean island, try using these two fruits. Just mash and mix up two bananas and an avocado and rub the mixture onto your scalp. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes and then rinse out. Avocado treatments for your hair can also help make your hair shinier and may promote hair growth as well.

Coconuts and coconut oil - can soothe dry itchy skinThe list of uses of coconut oil in the beauty realm is long. (Photo: Africa Studio/Shutterstock)

4. Coconut oil. Another island remedy, coconut oil can work wonders on your itchy scalp, and these days, it’s sold in many grocery stores so you don’t have to search high and low for a jar. Just massage some coconut oil into your scalp, let it sit for awhile, and rinse out. Your hair will be noticeably oilier after this one, but it will help relieve your itchiness — and you’ll smell delicious.

5. Apple cider vinegar. This works in the same way that lemon juice does. Just put some apple cider vinegar into a spray bottle with some water. Spray it onto your scalp, let it sit for a few minute and then rinse out.

As mentioned before, an itchy scalp could be from the use (or overuse) of hair products, so take a closer look at your hair care regimen and see what you’re really putting on your head. The ingredients may not be toxic, but they may be allergenic enough to cause an itchy scalp. Read labels carefully and research ingredients if you need to. After all, it’s your head we’re talking about!