Is having an itchy head a symptom of Alzheimer's disease?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 29, 2016
Linda sn asked...

I am wondering if an itchy head is in anyway related to Alzheimer's Disease? I ask that question as my mom recently died after a twelve year battle with Alzheimers. She use to always scatch her head so vigorously. In looking back at old videos of her several years before she was diagnosed with alzheimer's she could be observed doing the same thing. I recently noticed my best friends mom, who is in stage 2 of alzheimer's doing the same thing. I am 65 and in the past couple of weeks I noticed myself feeling a very itchy head and find I am scratching it with vigor oas my mom and my friends mom does. I am wondering if this might be an early predictor of the disease. I have noticed no other signs.

Expert Answers

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

In my experience, I have not heard or seen any research that shows that an itchy head is a sign of Alzheimer's Disease. I do know that many people with Alzheimer's will often do repetitive behaviors, like tapping or saying the same phrase over and over. Perhaps scratching a body part, like their scalp, could fall in this category.

Regarding your itchy scalp, this is usually caused by dry skin, dermatitis, or seborrheic dermatitis. Seborrheic dermatitis, called "cradle cap" in infants, causes dandruff in adults. Oddly enough, it coincides with neurological conditions like a strokes, Parkinson's disease, or head injuries, but not Alzheimer's disease. If it continues to bother you, you could always see a dermatologist for an opinion. Good luck!