Why does the scalp hurt? The causes and solutions


Have you ever wondered why your scalp hurts? It is known as trichodynia and it is a condition of the scalp that causes the hair follicle to be very sensitized or irritated. Apart from pain, it is possible to feel burning, itching and other discomforts, such as scales on the skin, which make you constantly touch or scratch the area.

Scalp pain can have a number of different causes, from a dandruff easy to treat to a more severe infection. Do you want to know how to control it? Keep reading!

Woman with shaved blond hair and scalp pain
Experts usually associate hypersensitivity in the scalp with some types of alopecia, prolonged anxiety and stress, and some pathologies such as folliculitis. Credit: SHVETS production/Pexels.

Common causes of scalp pain include some skin disorders, infections, lice infestation, headache, menstruation, temporal arthritis, alopecia areata, weather factors, and poor styling techniques.

skin disorders

Dermatitis is a common condition associated with a general inflammation of the skin. Symptoms include itchy rash and inflammation. It is also possible to experience blisters, crusting, or scaling. These symptoms can be triggered by contact with common things, such as:

  • certain metals.
    certain soaps.
  • Poison Ivy.
  • Certain cosmetics.
  • Pollution.
  • Water.
  • Certain laundry detergents.
  • Certain hair products.


Folliculitis, furunculosis, and carbunculosis are infections of the hair follicles that can feel hot and cause pain on the scalp. They often affect the back of the neck, scalp, or armpits. Sometimes pus can be squeezed out of these skin lesions.

lice infestation

What may look like flakes of dandruff could be lice. If you have itching or red bumps that may crust or ooze, you should seek medical attention immediately. Head lice are highly contagious and can live for up to 30 days on the scalp or body. Lice eggs can live even longer.


A tension headache can also cause your scalp to ache. The stressdepression or anxiety can cause or worsen symptoms, causing the muscles to tighten.


When your cycle begins, you produce hormones that increase sensitivity to pain, which could also cause discomfort in the scalp.

temporal arteritis

Temporal arteritis is a condition in which the temporal artery (which runs to the side of the head in front of the ear) becomes inflamed and very sensitive to touch. Symptoms associated with this condition include jaw pain, headaches, and visual disturbances.

Temporal arteritis most often affects older adults, especially those with a condition called polymyalgia rheumatica.

alopecia areata

A form of hair loss called alopecia areata it can also cause scalp sensitivity. In this condition, hair follicles fall out in round clumps from the scalp and sometimes the body.

Climatic factors

Cold, heat, wind and sunburn can be the reasons why your scalp hurts.

Bad styling techniques

Brushing or rubbing hair while it is wet can break hair follicles, causing Hair loss and scalp irritation. Excessive brushing and hairstyles that are too tight can also cause pain. Finally, using the dryer with very hot air could be the cause of your discomfort.

Woman getting a hair massage to relieve scalp pain
Massaging the scalp can help relieve symptoms, but it’s important to treat the cause. Credit: Michelle Leman/Pexels.

As there are many conditions related to scalp pain, treatment is varied. In many cases, the discomfort goes away on its own, while in others, the symptoms dissipate when the cause is treated.

Especially painful, severe, or prolonged cases of scalp pain should be reported to a dermatologist or trichologist (a dermatologist who specializes in hair).

A doctor will likely prescribe a medicated cream to control irritation, pain, and external symptoms along with other treatments. Washes with medicated shampoos and conditioners are also commonly used to help treat scalp sensitivity.

Steps to take to relieve a sensitive scalp include:

  • massage the scalp with the fingertips in circular motions.
  • Apply ice at 10-minute intervals.
  • Leave your hair loose or, at least, not tie it up tight.
  • Apply essential oils (lavender or rosemary) diluted on the scalp can relieve irritation. Leave on for 15 minutes and wash.
  • Stretching and relaxation techniques can also be helpful in relieving tension.

Editor’s tip: Even if your treatment doesn’t include medicated hair products, you’ll want to keep your routine as safe as possible. The shampoo and the Sedal Care+ Prebiotics + Biotin conditioner help hair feel healthy and grow optimally. Prebiotics improve the overall health and well-being of the scalp, while biotin contributes to healthy hair growth.

Inflammation is a normal physiological response that causes injured tissue to heal. An inflammatory process begins when chemical compounds are released from damaged tissue. In response, white blood cells produce substances that cause cells to divide and grow to rebuild tissue to help repair the injury. Once the wound heals, the inflammatory process will end. Inflammation can cause redness, swelling, heat, and pain.


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