Causes of an Itchy Scalp – Is it Head Lice?

Causes of scalp itching 

The fear and anxiety surrounding head lice infestations can sometimes lead us to assume that any itching or unusual findings in our hair or our children’s hair are due to head lice. However, there are several other conditions that can cause scalp itching (not just head lice). If you are uncertain about the cause of the itch, it is advisable to seek professional advice. Call us today to schedule your consultation. 

DEC Plugs 

If you have an itchy scalp and notice small specks on your scalp, you may have over-dried your scalp. These specks are known as desquamated epithelial cells (DEC plugs). They are creamy white fat cells that are excreted from the oil glands in the scalp. They are not attached to the hair but instead sit on the scalp and can be easily moved by your finger or comb. These oil glands can often work overtime if the scalp is attempting to compensate for the drying effects of chemical head lice treatment, leading to the formation of many small ‘plugs’ on the scalp.

Hair casts 

Hair casts are hair root sheaths that have not disintegrated or fallen off. They stay on the hair shaft and become visible as they encircle the hair strand. Hair casts look very different from head lice – they are cylinder-shaped and white. You can easily dislodge and remove hair casts by using the pads of your fingers and sliding them off the hair easily.


Dandruff occurs when the skin on the scalp becomes irritated and flakes off. These flakes generally sit on the scalp and fall off easily if you itch or shake the hair. Dandruff can also cause mild itchiness and irritation. A more severe form of the condition, when the skin becomes inflamed, is called seborrheic dermatitis. Dry scalp is different from dandruff. Dandruff flakes are bigger and look oily. Specially formulated shampoos and hair care products can help to treat dandruff.

If you suspect head lice, or are not sure – call us today for your consultation. Our signature treatment removes all head lice and nits in 60 minutes or less!