Sometimes coloring hair can seem like more trouble than it’s worth. Dealing with scalp dryness from peroxide and ammonia and the resulting itchiness is one of the worst parts. If you experience this kind of discomfort, it may also be due to an allergic reaction to hair color—one of the main allergens is phenylenediamine, which absorbs into the skin and irritates the scalp. Take your itch seriously from the start—early treatment keeps the problem from getting worse and creating hair loss or an infection.

Things You'll Need

Precautions and Considerations

First things first: Perform a patch test before you try a new hair color product. Do one periodically for a color you regularly use since hormonal changes may alter how products affect you. Apply a bit of dye onto an inconspicuous place and leave on for 24 hours to see if it causes an allergic reaction.

Tell your colorist if you’re feeling any burning or itching during your hair color application. Even if you’re dyeing your hair yourself, take note of these reactions. Rinse the color out immediately if you experience this.

Use a color that’s specifically for sensitive skin. Many formulas are ammonia-free or peroxide-free, which may help prevent itching from dry scalp. You also may want to consider highlights instead of coloring all your hair, especially if your hair is very dark, to avoid heavy peroxide or ammonia.

Remedies for an Itchy Scalp

Use a pH-balanced shampoo plus a conditioner to moisturize the scalp. You might want to use a non-detergent shampoo, such as Castile soap.

For a pH-balancing rinse, try a 50/50 mix of apple cider vinegar and water. Pour it into a spray bottle and spray all over your scalp and hair. Leave in for a few minutes, then rinse out.

You also can try a chamomile tea rinse. Steep a bag of chamomile tea in a cup of water for 5 to 10 minutes. Let cool, transfer to a spray bottle, and spray all over your scalp and hair. Leave in for a few minutes, then rinse out.

Oils can be moisturizing and soothing. Massage olive oil or almond oil into your scalp and leave it on for about 30 minutes before washing it out.

What to Do if the Itch Stays

Check to see if your allergic reaction could be from another hairstyling product, especially a bad combination between another product and your color.

Talk to your doctor if the itch doesn’t go away or if it gets worse. You may need a topical salve or oral medication.