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Why are my dreads so itchy?

What causes dreads to be itchy?

There are a few main reasons why dreads can become itchy:


Dreads can become very dry, especially in the first few months after forming them. The twisting and matting process strips the hair of its natural oils, leaving the strands dehydrated. This leads to an itchy, irritated scalp. Properly moisturizing your dreads is important to prevent dryness and itchiness.

Product buildup

Product buildup occurs when you use heavy products like wax or gel to help form and maintain your dreads. Over time, these products can leave behind residue that clogs up the hair follicles. This prevents the scalp from being able to breathe, causing irritation and itching. It’s important to wash dreads regularly to remove buildup.

Improper maintenance

Not properly maintaining your dreads can cause them to become itchy. Skipping regular washing allows dirt, dead skin cells, and other debris to accumulate in the dreads. Tightly crocheting new growth can damage hair follicles leading to itching as well. Proper dread maintenance reduces irritation.

Skin conditions

Sometimes dreads can irritate or worsen existing scalp conditions like dandruff, eczema, psoriasis, or dermatitis. The twisting and pulling of the hair can further inflame these skin conditions, making dreads feel unbearably itchy. Treating the underlying condition is key to reducing itchiness.

Hair growth

As new hair grows in, it can cause itching and irritation at the scalp and along the dreadlocks. The sharp ends of new growth digging into the scalp creates an itchy feeling. Regular maintenance like palm rolling can help ease new growth itchiness.

Stress and anxiety

Believe it or not, stress and anxiety can also make your dreads feel itchy! When we feel stressed or anxious, we tend to focus on and amplify uncomfortable physical sensations. This can cause you to feel itchier than normal. Managing stress can help reduce associated dread itchiness.

When do dreads start itching?

Dreads commonly become itchy at the following times:

  • The first 1-2 months during the initial matting process as hair adjustments
  • When new hair growth occurs along the scalp and dreadlocks
  • After washing, especially if not properly rinsing out all soap residue
  • When allowing dreads to go too long between washing, leading to buildup
  • During times of high stress or anxiety
  • In low humidity environments that dry out the hair and scalp

Being aware of these common itchy periods allows you to be proactive and take steps to reduce irritation.

When do dreads stop itching?

For most people with dreads, the itching decreases and stops after about 2-4 months once the hair has fully locked up. The initial matting and tightening phase is when dreads tend to be the itchiest. As your scalp adjusts to having locks, the itching should subside.

However, if you don’t properly care for your dreads, the itching can persist or return. Make sure you are:

  • Moisturizing regularly
  • Washing 1-2 times per week
  • Avoiding buildup
  • Gently palm rolling new growth
  • Treating any underlying scalp conditions

Following best practices for dread maintenance will help minimize itchiness. If your dreads remain very itchy for longer than 4 months, consult a dermatologist to rule out any medical conditions.

What helps with itchy dreads?

Here are some tips to help relieve an itchy, irritated scalp when you have dreads:

Wash regularly

Wash your dreads 1-2 times per week with a residue-free shampoo. Make sure to thoroughly rinse out all soap. Residue left behind can cause itching.

Apply oil

Massage oils like coconut, olive, or jojoba into your scalp to moisturize and soothe itching. Don’t apply too much or it could cause buildup.

Use anti-itch dread products

Products like anti-itch sprays, serums, or shampoos can temporarily relieve itchiness between washes. Look for cooling ingredients like menthol or tea tree oil.

Dry baking soda scrub

Mix a few tablespoons of baking soda with a dash of salt. Massage into the scalp before washing to exfoliate and neutralize odor/acidity.

Apple cider vinegar rinse

Rinsing with a dilute apple cider vinegar solution can help restore pH balance and kill any fungus or bacteria.

Avoid tight styles

Don’t pull dreads too tightly in ponytails or buns, as this can put pressure on the scalp and worsen irritation. Let them hang freely.

See a dermatologist

If basic home remedies aren’t helping, make an appointment with a dermatologist. They can assess for underlying scalp conditions and provide medicated relief.

Home remedies for itchy dreads

These natural home remedies can provide soothing relief for dreadlock itchiness:

Aloe vera

Aloe vera gel has anti-inflammatory and anti-itch properties. Apply liberally to the scalp 20 minutes before washing.

Tea tree oil

Mix a few drops of tea tree essential oil with a carrier oil like coconut or olive oil. Gently massage into the scalp.

Apple cider vinegar

Create a rinse with 1 part apple cider vinegar diluted in 2 parts water. Rinse hair after shampooing to restore pH balance.

Lemon juice

The citric acid in lemon can help eliminate residue buildup. Dilute fresh lemon juice and apply to the scalp before rinsing.

Baking soda

Make a paste with baking soda and water. Gently scrub onto scalp before washing to exfoliate and neutralize odor.

Coconut oil

Use virgin coconut oil to moisturize the scalp and soothe itching. Apply a thin layer and allow to soak in overnight before washing.

Remedy Method
Aloe Vera Apply gel to scalp before washing
Tea Tree Oil Mix with carrier oil and massage into scalp
Apple Cider Vinegar Create rinse with 1 part vinegar, 2 parts water
Lemon Juice Dilute in water and apply to scalp
Baking Soda Make paste and gently scrub scalp
Coconut Oil Apply thin layer and leave in overnight

When to see a doctor for itchy dreads

See your doctor or dermatologist if:

– The itching persists longer than 4 months
– Itching is severe and disrupting sleep
– You notice signs of infection like pus, swelling, redness
– You have open sores or scabs on the scalp
– You experience hair loss along with itching

A doctor can properly diagnose and treat any underlying scalp conditions that may be causing persistent itching. Leaving medical conditions untreated can lead to permanent hair damage and loss. It’s better to be safe and get it checked out.


Itching is a common complaint during the first few months after starting dreadlocks. As the hair mats and tightens, dryness, irritation, and sensitivity occur. While frustrating, itching should subside after an adjustment period with proper maintenance. Using moisturizing shampoos, oils, home remedies, and avoiding buildup can help manage itchiness. If symptoms persist, visit a dermatologist to address any underlying scalp or skin conditions. With a little time and TLC, your dreads and scalp can adjust for happy, itch-free locks!