Bumps on the Scalp That Itch: Main Causes & Effective Treatments

Few things are more uncomfortable and distracting than a dry and itchy scalp. This kind of irritation can arise from embarrassing conditions. Or, even problems that are unnoticeable to others. In any case, it’s important to understand the causes and treatments if you do happen to get sore and red bumps on the scalp that itch.

If you do experience itchy bumps, understanding the causes can help you to find the right solution. Most of the time, irritants that cause bumps, redness, and itching aren’t that problematic. However, that doesn’t lessen the annoyances that go along with them.

Different causes for bumps on the scalp require different treatments. So, it’s important to know how to identify any additional symptoms. Knowing that you have ‘itchy bumps’ isn’t enough to differentiate from one condition from the next.

The more you can relate your condition with an individual cause, the easier it will be to treat. Let’s check out several of the possible causes.

What Are the Main Causes of Itchy Bumps on the Scalp?

We’ll focus on the most common conditions that can cause bumps to appear on the scalp. If you have some of the additional symptoms, you’ll know how to treat them more effectively.


We get hives (known medically as urticaria) for a variety of reasons. However, when they show up on the scalp, it can feel like a different experience. Most of the time, this is because we can’t see them through the hair without some serious searching.

Hives are technically an allergic reaction. They show up as elevated bumps and can have the appearance of reddish welts, depending on the severity. If you’ve recently come into contact with something you’re allergic to, it could explain the itchy bumps on your scalp.

If you experience hives and aren’t sure why to consider the things you’ve recently exposed. Anything from bee stings to pet dander can trigger a reaction. Knowing what you’re allergic to can help to prevent additional problems.

What Are the Reasons for Bumps on the Scalp That Itch?

Natural Build Up

An accumulation of things like dead skin cells, hair products, and oil can affect the scalp. If not treated, this kind of build up can cause acne. Acne on the scalp has the same appearance as it does anywhere else. It shows up with small raised and red bumps. Unfortunately, itching or picking at these bumps can lead to even more irritation.

Seborrheic Keratoses

These are noncancerous skin growths. The actual cause of these small brown bumps isn’t completely known. However, seborrheic keratoses is known to run in families. The most ‘dangerous’ thing about this condition is that it can be hard to distinguish from melanoma.

The difference is that this condition is completely benign. It can, however, cause itching on the scalp if it becomes irritated. The more irritation, the worse the itching will become. Anything from washing your hair to relieving the itch momentarily can cause the bumps to become inflamed.

Cradle Cap

Cradle cap is also known as seborrheic dermatitis. Like seborrheic keratoses, the main cause of this condition is unknown. However, it has been linked to everything from fungal infections to fatigue. It appears as scaly bumps on the top of the scalp. Unlike seborrheic keratoses, cradle cap will typically feel itchy without any external irritation.

Treating Itchy Bumps on the Scalp

There is no ‘one -size-fits-all’ solution to these conditions. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the following treatment options:

  • Hives: If you’re experiencing hives on your scalp, it’s likely an allergic reaction. An antihistamine may be necessary to get rid of the bumps. If they are mild, you may not require treatment. The hives may go away on their own. However, if they are severe, a doctor’s visit could be in order. Your doctor will likely offer a steroid injection to stop the swelling.
  • Natural Build Up: There are specific shampoos you can use to fight the buildup of ‘debris’ on your scalp, such as Christina Moss Naturals organic shampoo. Often, dry, flaky skin can be fixed relatively quickly with a quality moisturizing shampoo. If products are causing the build-up, try using something that is 100% natural and chemical-free.
  • Seborrheic Keratoses: Though the official cause of this condition isn’t known, in most cases, it won’t require treatment. If you notice that the bumps have changed color, or they start bleeding, you should contact a dermatologist. They may have to be removed and biopsied. These instances, however, are extremely rare.
  • Seborrheic Dermatitis: This condition can usually be remedied with a medicated shampoo. A product that contains ingredients like salicylic acid or ciclopirox is best. In some cases, a doctor may need to prescribe an extra-strength shampoo. If the bumps don’t go away fairly quickly upon treatment, see a dermatologist.

An Itchy Scalp, and What to Do About It

It’s the additional symptoms that make a diagnosis and choosing treatments simpler. From dry, scaly skin, to raised red bumps, these conditions call for different types of treatment. Don’t simply assume that an itchy scalp is a result of dry skin. Instead, take the time to look for other signs.

The causes and treatments for bumps on the scalp that itch depend on each other. There is no ‘cure all’ for bumps on the scalp. So, by knowing about the other symptoms and warning signs, you can find relief faster. More importantly, you can rule out other possible dermatological conditions.