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Why Does My Scalp Hurt? Common Causes and Remedies

A woman scratching her scalp | why does my scalp hurt

Many women experience scalp pain or tenderness at some point in their lives. This discomfort can be caused by a variety of factors, including tension headaches, migraines, scalp infections, and hair styling practices. In this blog, we will explore some of the common reasons why women may experience scalp pain and provide tips on how to manage and prevent it.

What causes scalp tenderness?

Tension headaches: 

These headaches can cause pain and tenderness in the scalp, especially around the temples and the back of the head. They are often caused by strain, tension, or poor posture.


Migraines can cause severe pain and tenderness in the scalp, usually on one side of the head. Other symptoms can include nausea, sensitivity to light and sound, and visual disturbances.

Scalp infections

Infections such as folliculitis (inflammation of hair follicles) or shingles (a viral infection) can cause tenderness, itching, and pain on the scalp.

Hair styling practices

Certain hair stylings practices like tight ponytails, braids, or extensions can put excessive tension on the scalp and cause pain and tenderness.


Chronic strain can cause tension in the muscles of the scalp, neck, and shoulders, leading to tenderness and pain.

Underlying medical conditions: 

Certain medical conditions like lupus, fibromyalgia, or trigeminal neuralgia can cause scalp tenderness as a symptom.

Why does my scalp hurt when I move my hair?

If you feel scalp pain while adjusting your hair, it may manifest as:

  • Itching
  • Aching
  • Tingling
  • Burning

Some people describe it as the sensation of rough combing or brushing, such as scraping or pulling. Although people may assume that the hair is hurting, hair strands lack nerves, and therefore, the pain comes from the underlying scalp, which is stimulated by hair movement.

Scalp pain while adjusting hair could be a symptom of other medical conditions, such as 

  • Headaches
  • Contact allergies
  • Eczema
  • Scalp psoriasis
  • Dandruff

How do you stop scalp pain?

There are several ways to alleviate scalp pain, depending on the underlying cause:

Use a gentle shampoo

Choose a mild shampoo that won't irritate your scalp and avoid using hot water, which can exacerbate the pain.

Apply a warm compress: 

Use a warm, damp towel or heating pad on your scalp to relieve tension and promote blood circulation.

Try scalp massage: 

Massaging your scalp can help relax the muscles and reduce pain.

Use essential oils: 

Essential oils such as lavender, peppermint, and eucalyptus can help soothe scalp pain when applied topically.

Practice good hair hygiene: 

Keep your hair clean and avoid using products that may irritate your scalp.

If your scalp pain persists or is severe, it's important to seek medical attention from a healthcare professional to rule out any underlying medical conditions.

How to relieve scalp pain from ponytail?

Here are some tips on how to relieve scalp pain from a ponytail:

Loosen the ponytail: 

If the pain is caused by a tight ponytail, try loosening it by moving the elastic down a bit or using a wider hairband.

Massage your scalp: 

Gently massage your scalp with your fingertips to improve blood flow and ease tension.

Apply a warm compress: 

Use a warm compress or towel on your scalp to relax your muscles and relieve pain.

Use a pain reliever: 

Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help relieve scalp pain.

Avoid ponytails for a while: 

Give your scalp a break from ponytails or other hairstyles that pull on your hair to allow it to heal and recover.

Take Away

Scalp pain can be a nuisance and even debilitating at times, but it is often a symptom of an underlying issue that can be addressed. By identifying the cause of your scalp pain and taking steps to address it, such as practicing proper hair care, managing strain, and seeking medical treatment if necessary, you can alleviate your discomfort and promote overall scalp health. Remember to listen to your body and seek help if your scalp pain persists or worsens.


Is it bad if your scalp hurts?

Scalp pain can be uncomfortable, but it’s not usually a sign of a serious medical condition. However, if the pain is severe or accompanied by other symptoms, it’s important to see a doctor.

Does scalp pain cause hair loss?

Scalp pain alone is not typically a direct cause of hair loss. However, underlying conditions that cause scalp pain, such as scalp infections or autoimmune disorders, may also contribute to hair loss.

Can scalp pain be hormonal?

Hormonal changes, such as those that occur during menopause or pregnancy, can sometimes cause scalp pain or tenderness. However, it’s important to rule out other potential causes and speak with a healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and treatment.


  1. Sensitive Scalp - NCBI
  2. Why Do I Have Scalp Pain When Moving My Hair? - Healthline
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