Why Does My Scalp Itch So Bad With Braids?

Braids are a fantastic, long-lasting protective hairstyle, whether opting for timeless box braids or trendy Senegalese twists. Yet, while braids come with a slew of pros, one of the biggest cons is the infamous “itch” that comes from braided hairstyles. What’s the deal?

Itchiness likely comes from braids being too tight, although not washing often enough can also be the main culprit. The best thing to do is to make sure that the braids aren’t overly tight, wash your hair more regularly, and ensure that your scalp is well-nourished.

If you’ve been spending the bulk of your afternoon itching away at your braids, you’re not alone! Itchy braids are very common. The good news is that there are many simple solutions to end the itchiness – once and for all.

Let’s uncover why your scalp is itching – and, more importantly, how to stop it.

Why Does My Scalp Itch With Braids? 5 Causes

Many things can lead to itchy braids. Below, you will find the top five most common reasons for itchy braids.

1. Braids Are Too Tight

Plenty of people are under the impression that the tighter the braid, the longer it’ll last. While this isn’t exactly incorrect, too-tight braids can cause many adverse reactions that aren’t worth the extra week or two of styling.

When braids are too tight, traction alopecia can form. This condition irritates the hair follicles, leading to extreme itchiness and irreversible hair loss. So, double-check your braids to make sure they’re not too tight. Look for redness, bumping, and thinning of the scalp alongside itchiness.

2. Not Washing Enough

Braided hair does not need to be washed as often as unbraided hair. That’s one of the perks of opting for this type of hairstyle. However, that doesn’t mean your hair and scalp will remain “clean” for extended periods. Over time, dirt, debris, and oils will build up in the hair follicle, causing irritation.

3. Hair is Not Alkaline

Synthetic hair is ideal for braids, as human hair can be too slippery for long-lasting wear. However, many synthetic hairs have an alkaline coating that can irritate the scalp, causing excessive itchiness.

4. Scalp is Dry

A dry scalp will always equate to one thing: itchiness. That said, you need to pay extra close attention to your scalp while wearing braided hairstyles. Although braids can help lock in moisture, your scalp requires a helping hand to stay hydrated.

5. Allergies

You may be suffering from itching due to an allergy. Allergies are most common with synthetic hair, especially the alkaline coating. If you notice itching, redness, and bumps (and possibly a gnawing headache), it may be a sign of an allergic reaction.

How to Stop Braids From Itching

Are you ready to put a stop to itching ASAP? Here are the top ways to halt itchiness and enjoy your lovely braided hairstyle itch-free.

1. Loosen Up the Braids

If your braids are way too tight, it’s essential to get help from a professional hairstylist. They can loosen up your braids and perform any necessary treatments to get your hair (and scalp) back in tip-top shape.

Once they’re loosened up, it will be important not to tug at the braids or indulge in super tight hairstyles too often. For example, if you’re used to pulling your braids up into a high ponytail, you might consider opting for a low ponytail for the time being.

2. Wash Your Hair More Often

Don’t try to wash your braided hair daily; that’s unrealistic. However, if you’re currently washing your braids every two weeks and notice excessive itchiness, consider dropping down to weekly washing.

You can use a cotton ball doused in toner between washes to clean the roots around your braids. This will get rid of any buildup and hopefully stop itchiness.

Tip: Consider shampooing with a medicated anti-itch shampoo that contains coal tar. Follow up with a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner, as anti-itch shampoos can sometimes be drying – which will lead to further itchy problems.

3. Soak Synthetic Hair in ACV and Water

Did you soak your synthetic hair before wearing them? If not, you may end up with itchiness. That said, always soak your synthetic strands in an apple cider vinegar mixture before using: one cup of apple cider vinegar per three cups of hot water. Then, shampoo and rinse thoroughly.

Don’t panic if you already have your synthetic locks installed but did not perform an apple cider vinegar soak, don’t panic. Simply wash your hair using the same concoction, followed by shampoo. You should be good to go!

4. Moisturize Your Scalp

Spritz your preferred moisturizer onto your scalp daily. You can also rub some natural oil, such as coconut or jojoba oil, around the roots and scalp to keep it moisturized and itch-free.

5. Use Human Hair

If you are allergic to synthetic hair – with and without an apple cider vinegar soak – it may be time to pull the plug on synthetic manes. Swap for human hair. Sure, it’s not the “preferred” option for most, but it’s worth it to avoid the discomfort of an allergy.


As you can see, itchiness after braids can be caused by many things. But with proper care and simple solutions, you can enjoy your beautiful hairstyle itch-free. If you want to keep learning about this topic, here are a couple of frequently asked questions to check out.

How do you stop your scalp from itching with braids?

If you are looking for instant relief, the best thing to do is to use a medicated, anti-itch shampoo, followed by a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner. Rub some natural oils into your scalp. Enjoy your lovely mane with zero itching.

Does itchy braids mean growth?

It’s a common myth that itchiness equates to hair growth, but this simply is not the case. In fact, an itchy scalp can indicate an unhealthy scalp that does not promote hair growth. That said, it’s crucial to tackle itchiness and restore the health of your hair and scalp.

How do you know if you’re allergic to braiding hair?

Allergies to synthetic hair will typically result in redness, bumps, itching, and tenderness. More severe cases can cause blisters, hives, and swelling. Regardless, allergic reactions shouldn’t be ignored. If you have an allergic reaction, remove the synthetic hair ASAP.

Itchiness Isn’t Uncommon, But it is Easily Fixed!

Itchy braids are almost always caused by too-tight hairstyles, dirty scalps, or dryness. Regardless of the reason, it’s vital to be proactive about getting rid of the itch and obtaining a happy and healthy scalp.

Do your braids ever itch after you have them installed? How did you get rid of the itch? Share below!

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