Why Do Box Braids Itch

Box braids are a unique hairstyle originating from African heritage. Wearing box braids is fashionable and an excellent protective measure for your hair!

In spite of all the benefits box braids have to offer, they do have some drawbacks, like making your scalp itchy. But Why Do Box Braids Itch? Tightly wound braids, dry scalp even the chemicals from hair extensions may cause your scalp to itch. 

But there’s nothing to worry about, as there’s a variety of home remedies to cure itchy and dry box braids. This article covers the reasons and remedies for an itchy scalp due to box braids, so keep reading!

Do Box Braids Itch?

Why Do Box Braids Itch

Box braids can cause irritations to your scalp and make your hair extremely dry. If you notice yourself scratching your head frequently or feel irritation at the roots of your hair, your box braids might be the reason behind these discomforts. 

Yes, box braids are a sophisticated trend, but they might not be the best for your hair’s health. 

What Causes Itchy Scalp With Braids?

Causes Itchy Scalp With Braids

We’ve listed below the most common causes of scalp irritation due to box braids:

a. Tight Braids

A common misconception is that the tighter the braid, the longer it’ll last, but it’s not true. Yes, tight braids look firmer and stylish but risk damaging your hair. 

Tight braids pull on the roots, which irritate the scalp. Braiding the hair too tightly may also lead to hair fall.

 b. Dusty Environment

If your hair is exposed to a dusty and polluted environment regularly, it’s bound to get damaged. Sand and dust particles settle on the scalp making it itchy. Pollutants stuck in the braids can also lead to rashes and infections, and you’ll find yourself constantly scratching your head.

 c. Dehydration 

Not drinking adequate amounts of water leads to dehydration, which makes the skin dry and taut. Dry skin cells on your scalp may develop dandruff as well. 

d. Excess Sweat 

Heavily active sweat glands keep the skin humid and sticky. Sweat becomes trapped in hair roots, making skin cells soft and flakey. Dust, sand, and other pollutants stick easily to a sweaty head.

You’re more likely to have a scratchy head if you sweat easily.

e. Infrequent Oiling 

Oiling moisturizes the skin and nourishes your hair. If you have a dry scalp and don’t apply oil frequently, you’re bound to end up with an itchy head. 

When you don’t apply oil regularly, your hair becomes rough and brittle. And making braids out of coarse hair is never a good idea.

f. Allergic Reaction From Hair Extension

As box braids are generally installed using synthetic hair extensions, it isn’t uncommon to be allergic to the extension material. 

How Do I Stop My Braids From Itching?

Stop My Braids From Itching

Itchy braids aren’t the end of the world! You can cure them and make your hair irritation free again. Follow these remedies to get rid of itchy braids: 

a. Loosen The Braids 

As one of the most common causes of itchy braids is tightly wound braids, loosening them will do the trick. 

b. Use Hair-Friendly Products 

Use shampoo and conditioner according to the nature of your hair and scalp. Thoroughly wash your hair every day and apply shampoo every other day. 

While shampooing, massage your scalp in a slow circular motion. Don’t wash your hair with hot water, and avoid using blow dryers.

c. Apply Essential Oils 

To avoid inflammations and irritations, add a few drops of your preferred essential oil to your shampoo and apply it to your hair. 

You should apply palm oil or coconut oil before shampooing to get a smooth and silky effect.

d. Using Baking Soda 

Applying baking soda to your hair roots before getting extensions is the perfect prevention against dry and dull skin cells. Mix a few drops of essential oil with two tablespoons of baking powder and apply to your hair roots. 

Baking powder solution removes flakiness and restores the pH level of your scalp.

e. Soak In Apple Cider Vinegar 

Soaking your braids in apple cider vinegar is an easy home remedy to get rid of itchy hair. It nourishes the skin cells and removes bumps on the scalp

Before installing the box braids, soak them in a mixture of apple cider vinegar and lukewarm water for 20-30 minutes. Drain the water before and dry the braids completely before adding the braids.

If you have already added the braid extensions, make the apple cider vinegar solution and dab it onto your scalp using a cotton ball. 

f. Protect From Harsh Environment 

The harsh and polluted environment outside damages the hair to a great extent. When going out of the house, wear a cap or wrap a scarf around your hair to protect it from dust and rubble. 

g. Proper Diet 

Drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated and your hair smooth. Try to keep greens and fruits in your diet regularly. You may take vitamin supplements if necessary. 

Does An Itchy Scalp Equal Hair Growth?

Does An Itchy Scalp Equal Hair Growth

No, an itchy scalp doesn’t equal hair growth. It’s quite the contrary. An itchy scalp indicates an unhealthy scalp, which signifies stunted hair growth

Itchy scalp may also be a symptom of other underlying problems like a rash or infection on your head. 

Is Scratching Your Box Braids Bad?

It isn’t bad to scratch your box braids, but it isn’t a good sign either. Itchy box braids indicate irritations within your scalp and hair. Scratching your braids may temporarily ease the irritation, but the underlying problem still remains.

Instead of scratching your braids constantly, figure out the cause behind it and take appropriate measures.


Are you allergic to your braids?

Yes, you could form an allergic reaction to the material your box braids are made of. If you’re scratching your scalp constantly, chances are you’re allergic to your braids. 

Can tight braids cause itching?
tight braids cause itching

Yes, tight braids can cause itching. As a matter of fact, they’re the main cause behind your braids’ itching. 

What size box braids for thin hair?

Small or medium-sized box braids are best for thin hair. Feathered braids are also suitable for thin hair. Choose what suits you best!

What to use to detangle hair after braids?

You can easily untangle your hair using your fingers or a wide-toothed comb. Oil the braids lightly beforehand. Be gentle while untangling. 

Do box braids hurt?

Box braids won’t hurt unless you tie them too tightly. If your hair is thin and weak, getting braids may hurt a little, but it’s nothing unbearable and goes away after a while.

Do box braids add weight?

Yes, box braids may add to your weight slightly, but it’s negligible.  Braids may add as little as 10-30 grams of weight. 

Can box braids turn into dreads?

It’s highly unlikely that your braids will turn into dreads. Braids keep the hair in place and prevent dreadlocks from forming. 

Related Articles:

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  • Where Did Box Braids Originate
  • Are Box Braids Cultural Appropriation
  • Who Invented Box Braids
  • Can You Dye Box Braids
  • What To Put On Box Braids To Stop Frizz
  • What Gel To Use For Box Braids
  • What To Do After Taking Out Box Braids From Your Head


Box braids are classy, as well as a protective hairstyle. But you have to keep a few things in mind before getting box braids. 

By Cindy Mahlangu

Hey there! I'm Cindy Mahlangu, a pro hairstylist with a serious passion for natural hair care. My mission? To inspire and educate others on the beauty and benefits of protective hairstyles. Through my creative writing, aim to empower individuals to embrace their unique hair texture and confidently care for their locks. So, whether you're rocking locs, braids, or twists, join me on this hair journey and let's achieve healthy, fabulous tresses together!

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