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Itching After Hair Transplant: Why It Occurs & How to Get Rid of It

Medically called “pruritus”, tingling, prickling, or itching after a hair transplant procedure is a natural inflammatory response of your body. Usually seen during the first weeks, hair transplant doctors prescribe antihistamines for this irritating feeling. Antihistamine eases the itchiness helping you not to scratch your newly planted hair follicles, which can be lost otherwise.

Especially during the very first few days after hair transplantation, you may feel severe itching which can be concerning. Although this is a natural response of your body, you need proper instructions on how to deal with it to avoid ruining your surgery results.

For an in-depth look, here you will find the most important parts from our article about itching after hair transplant:

  • THE MAIN REASON BEHIND ITCHING AFTER HAIR TRANSPLANT IS HISTAMINE RELEASE
  • SCAB FORMATION, DRY SKIN, HAIR REGROWTH MAY ALSO CONTRIBUTE ITCHING
  • AS A SIGN OF HEALING, ITCHING IS USUALLY CONSIDERED GOOD AND NOTHING SERIOUS
  • ITCHING MAY LAST AROUND 4 WEEKS AND FADES OUT SLOWLY
  • YOU SHOULD NEVER ITCH YOUR SCALP ESPECIALLY AROUND THE FIRST 10 DAYS
  • TO STOP THE ITCHING SCALP YOU CAN USE ANTIHISTAMINES AND SOLUTIONS

Why Does Itching Occur After A Hair Transplant?

Recipient and donor area itching after a hair transplant occurs mainly due to histamine. You get the tingling or itchy scalp when histamine is released which widens your blood vessels. This is a natural inflammatory response of your immune system after a hair transplant surgery and nothing to be scared of.

Other than histamine, here, we listed all of the reasons for itching after a hair transplant:

  • NATURAL HEALING PROCESS
  • SCAB FORMATION 
  • DRY SKIN
  • HAIR REGROWTH
  • STERILE FOLLICULITIS
  • DERMATITIS
  • ALLERGIC REACTION
  • POOR HAIR GROWTH


Let us explain these reasons further.

How To Distinguish Between Regular Itching And Hair Transplant Infection?

If it is simply itching and does not present any small yellow crusts, a burning sensation, or redness around the itchy area then it is not a postop infection. If you notice any of these then you better contact your doctor. They prescribe antibiotics against infection.

Is Itching A Good Sign After A Hair Transplant?

Yes, it is mostly a good sign of wound healing. Itching around hair transplant incisions means the body is repairing the scar tissues. While this is happening, your nerves get disturbed, and the blood vessels get a bit wider, resulting in itching.

However, to be on the safe side, check the itchy area once in a while for any redness and yellow pus formation. These can be related to a skin condition that also causes itching. If you see any, contact your doctor, and they should provide you with the necessary guidelines.

How Long Does Itching Last After Hair Transplant?

Itching occurs right after your hair transplant and lasts around 4 weeks. In the first days, you will feel the itching at its worst. It gets better when you wash your scalp and use the medications. You may also experience a mildly itchy scalp 3 months after hair transplant due to natural hair growth.

Can Itching Be Seen After 3 Months?

Yes, it can. Usually, itching subsides within 3 months and should not be seen severely after this time. However, due to poor hair growth, you might experience itching even after years. This can be related to a condition called lichen planopilaris, which only occurs in 1% of people, in general.

According to the president of the Canadian Hair Loss Foundation, Jeffrey Donovan, ichen planopilaris can be seen after a hair transplant even after 2-3 years and one of the common side effects of this condition is itching.

How To Stop Itching Scalp After Hair Transplant?

  • TAKE ANTIHISTAMINE PILLS:
    Your body produces histamines on the incision sites causing itching, taking antihistamines will slow down the histamine production.
  • KEEP YOUR SCALP MOIST:
    You can use the saline and salt water spray that will keep your scalp moist and prevent itching.
  • USE MEDICATED SHAMPOOS:
    Medicated shampoos including ketoconazole or mild shampoos should ease the itching caused by dandruff and scabs.
  • TAKE YOUR ANTIBIOTICS:
    When you have a skin infection it might worsen itching, taking antibiotics will help you recover and stop the crawling feeling.
  • USE STEROID SCALP SOLUTION FOR DERMATITIS:
    A dermatitis that causes itching can be eased with solutions like clobetasol.

Can I Put Ice On The Itching Donor Area?

Yes, you can put ice on the back of your head (donor area) to relieve itching. You should apply it with a towel. Never directly contact ice with your scalp. This should be done only if necessary, and not more than 20 minutes.

When Can I Take An Antihistamine After A Hair Transplant?

Usually, the antihistamine is recommended to take before sleep. It can also be taken during the daytime as well. Depending on the type of antihistamine you are using your doctor will guide you better on how and when to take it.

Tips On Dealing With Itching After A Hair Transplant

In order to avoid worsening the itching after a hair transplant you should take care of your hair and make sure to follow your doctor’s instructions. Here, we listed some of the things to help you:

  • NEVER SCRATCH YOUR HAIR FOLLICLES
  • ONLY USE THE INSTRUCTED WASHING METHODS ON YOUR SCALP
  • WAIT AROUND 10 DAYS BEFORE WEARING A CAP HEAD COVERING
  • STAY IN THE SHADOWS DURING YOUR RECOVERY
  • AVOID GETTING EXCESSIVELY SWEATY
  • STAY AWAY FROM PRODUCTS YOU ARE ALLERGIC TO
  • DRINK ENOUGH AMOUNTS OF WATER TO AVOID DRY SCALP
  • USE WARM WATER FOR SHOWERING
  • DO NOT USE UNKNOWN WATER SOURCES TO WASH YOUR HAIR
  • DO NOT SWIM IN POOLS OR SEA FOR A WHILE
  • CARE FOR YOUR SLEEPING POSITION
  • KEEP YOUR PILLOWS AND SHEETS CLEAN

When To Seek Professional Help?

You should seek professional help when you feel like itching is out of control even when you follow the instructions properly. Extreme itching, redness, and small yellow puss formation around the hair follicles may be a sign of infection or a skin condition.

You may contact our services which provide lifetime online support to our hair transplant patients. We know that itching can be really annoying but remember that it is usually temporary lasting around a few weeks. With the methods we explained you should be able to overcome itching.

When Can I Scratch My Head After A Hair Transplant?

For the sake of your hair follicles, you cannot scratch your scalp until around 10 weeks after your surgery. Scratching your hair is not a good habit for your hair follicles in general, and may cause hair loss. Instead of scratching you may massage or rub your donor area if you really have to.

Can I Rub My Transplanted Hair After 10 Days?

No, you should not rub your transplanted hair until the hair follicles are settled and hair transplant scabs are removed. Rubbing your hair long before the hair follicles are healed may dislodge hair grafts and you may also cause hair follicle infection. Usually, people are free to touch their recipient area after around a week.

When Can I Scratch My Head After A Hair Transplant?

For the sake of your hair follicles, you cannot scratch your scalp until around 10 weeks after your surgery. Scratching your hair is not a good habit for your hair follicles in general, and may cause hair loss. Instead of scratching you may massage or rub your donor area if you really have to.

(1) Wolak, M., Bojanowska, E., Staszewska, T. et al. Histamine augments collagen content via H1 receptor stimulation in cultures of myofibroblasts taken from wound granulation tissue. Mol Cell Biochem 476, 1083–1092 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11010-020-03974-6

(2) Zhao ZQ, Liu XY, Jeffry J, et al. Descending control of itch transmission by the serotonergic system via 5-HT1A-facilitated GRP-GRPR signaling. Neuron. 2014;84(4):821-834. doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2014.10.003

(3) Donovan J. Lichen planopilaris after hair transplantation: report of 17 cases. Dermatol Surg. 2012 Dec;38(12):1998-2004. doi: 10.1111/dsu.12014. PMID: 23205573.