Why Does My Scalp Hurt? 6 Crucial Facts You Must Read [2023]

Why Does My Scalp Hurt When I Touch It

"Why Does My Scalp Hurt?" — a burning question many people silently struggle with daily. Scalp pain is an often misunderstood and frequently ignored problem, but for anyone who has experienced it, the discomfort can be all too real. It might have led you to this article in your quest for answers and relief.

This comprehensive guide will explore symptoms, causes, and solutions to the common yet perplexing issue of scalp pain.

1. Symptoms Of Scalp Pain

Why Does My Scalp Hurt When I Touch It

Scalp pain might initially be difficult to describe, as it can present in various ways. Here are some common manifestations:

  • Tenderness: Your scalp feels sensitive, particularly when you touch or move your hair. This is known as scalp tenderness.
  • Pain: You might experience throbbing or stabbing pain in certain parts of your scalp.
  • Itching: An itchy scalp could also be a sign of scalp pain. This might lead to scratching, which exacerbates the discomfort.
  • Soreness: A sore scalp is usually associated with prolonged pain or discomfort.
  • Burning Sensation: Some people describe a burning sensation on their scalp.

2. Why Does My Scalp Hurt When I Touch It?

The pain felt when touching your hair or scalp is often linked to inflammation of the hair follicles. Every strand of hair on your head grows from these follicles, tiny pockets in your scalp. When these follicles become inflamed due to bacterial or fungal infection, or even harsh shampoos, it can cause scalp tenderness and pain.

Additionally, your scalp is a highly vascular area, meaning it's filled with numerous blood vessels. When there's inflammation, these vessels dilate, causing pain whenever your scalp is touched or when your hair moves.

Tight hairstyles can also result in a sensitive scalp. Hairstyles that pull on the hair shaft, such as high ponytails, braids, or buns, can lead to traction alopecia. This causes scalp pain and can lead to hair loss if it persists.


3. Why Does My Scalp Hurt When My Hair Is Dirty?

A dirty scalp can indeed exacerbate or even cause scalp pain. Accumulation of oil, dirt, and dead skin cells can block your hair follicles, leading to inflammation and ultimately resulting in a sore scalp. A greasy scalp can sometimes lead to certain skin conditions like seborrheic dermatitis, a chronic skin condition that leaves the scalp red, itchy, and flaky.

Moreover, dirty hair might provide a suitable environment for bacterial or fungal infection, contributing to scalp pain. Infrequent cleansing of your hair and scalp could accelerate the accumulation of dead skin cells and sebum, leading to discomfort and possibly even scalp irritation and itchiness.


4. Why Does My Scalp Hurt When I Don't Wash My Hair?

Regularly washing your hair helps keep your scalp clean, reducing the build-up of oils, dead skin cells, and potential irritants contributing to scalp pain. Infrequent cleansing could lead to problems like a dirty, itchy scalp or greasy hair pain. Over time, lack of washing can lead to persistent skin conditions such as seborrheic dermatitis and scalp psoriasis, both known to cause scalp discomfort and pain.

Choosing the right products is equally vital to maintaining a regular cleansing routine. Harsh shampoos containing chemicals like sulphates and parabens can remove your scalp's natural oils leading to dryness and irritation. A gentle shampoo, on the other hand, can cleanse without disturbing your scalp's natural balance.

5. Other Causes Of A Painful Scalp

If your pain persists even after addressing the common culprits, such as dirty hair or tight hairstyles, the following causes could contribute to your discomfort.

Giant Cell Arteritis

Giant cell arteritis is an inflammatory disease affecting the arteries in your head and scalp, leading to severe scalp tenderness and throbbing pain.

Although relatively rare, it primarily occurs in people over 50. This condition may present with other symptoms like headache, jaw pain, or vision problems. Prompt medical intervention is critical for this condition, as it can lead to serious complications if untreated.


Neuralgia, specifically occipital neuralgia, can cause sharp, jolting pain in your scalp. This nerve disorder is due to irritation or damage to the occipital nerves, which run from the top of your spinal cord all the way up the scalp.

It's often confused with a migraine because of similar symptoms. Treatment typically involves pain management strategies and addressing the underlying cause, if known.

Migraine Headaches

If you're a migraine sufferer, you may experience scalp pain during your migraine episodes. The pain, often described as throbbing, usually occurs on one side of the head.
Migraines can cause scalp sensitivity, where even a light touch can be painful.

It's essential to follow a care plan guided by a healthcare provider if you suffer from migraines, as they can significantly affect your quality of life.

Yeast Infection

Yeast infections on the scalp are caused by an overgrowth of fungi, usually of the Malassezia species. These fungi live on the scalp and feed on the sebaceous glands' oil. An overgrowth can lead to dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis, causing an itchy and painful scalp.

Maintaining a good hair care routine to prevent these conditions is crucial, including regular washing and using an anti-dandruff or antifungal shampoo if necessary.

Scalp Pimples

Scalp pimples occur when hair follicles become blocked by oil, dead skin cells, or product build-up, leading to inflammation and possibly infection. Scalp pimples can be painful, especially when touching, combing, or brushing your hair.

Allergic reactions due to a hair care product or an imbalance in the scalp's microbiome might also lead to scalp pimples.

As with facial acne, it's essential not to pick or squeeze scalp pimples to avoid worsening the condition or causing scarring.

Head Lice

Head lice are tiny insects inhabiting your scalp and feeding on your blood. They cause intense itching, and this constant scratching can lead to scalp pain. Over-the-counter treatments are usually effective in eliminating head lice, but in persistent cases, you may need a prescription treatment.

6. How To Treat Scalp Pain

Dealing with scalp pain might seem a daunting task, but understanding the causes of scalp pain can be the first step. There's no umbrella solution to scalp pain, but adopting various scalp treatments and strategies to alleviate the discomfort can keep your scalp healthy.

Maintain Good Hygiene

An essential part of scalp care is cleanliness. Don't forget to wash your hair regularly to prevent the build-up of dead skin cells, sebum, and hair products. How often you wash will depend on your hair type and lifestyle. But don't wash too often, as this might strip natural oils from your scalp. You may subsequently experience dryness and irritation.

Choose a gentle shampoo that suits your hair type, and consider incorporating an antibacterial cleanser into your routine, especially if your scalp is prone to infections. Try a scalp scrub once in a while. This may also eliminate the scalp build-up that regular shampoos might miss.

Choose The Right Hair Products

The products you apply to your hair can significantly affect the health of your scalp. Some hair products contain harsh chemicals that can irritate your scalp, leading to inflammation and pain. Consider switching to products with more natural ingredients or those specifically designed for sensitive scalps.

Shampoos with active ingredients like salicylic acid or coal tar might be beneficial if you suffer from scalp conditions like psoriasis or seborrheic dermatitis. These ingredients can help reduce inflammation and slow down the excessive production of skin cells.

Avoid Tight Hairstyles

Tight hairstyles that pull on your hair shaft can cause scalp pain and even lead to hair loss. To prevent this, avoid hairstyles that cause tension on your scalp. When wearing your hair in a ponytail, bun, or braids, make sure they're not too tight. Wearing your hair down occasionally can also help.

Try Collagen Treatment For Your Scalp

Collagen, which is a naturally occurring protein and abundant in the body, is vital in maintaining healthy skin and hair. While it's traditionally associated with skin health, emerging research suggests that collagen could also be a game-changer for scalp health.

One such innovation is the rise of collagen-based hair care treatments, such as hair masks, specifically targeting the scalp. Try our Dry Scalp Collagen Deep Moisturising Mask. This product is specifically formulated to quench your scalp's thirst for hydration.

With ingredients like Hydrolyzed Royal Jelly Protein, Crambe Abyssinica Seed Oil, and Hydrolyzed Collagen, this mask goes the extra mile to moisturise the scalp and replenish much-needed hydration deeply.

This moisturising mask is clinically tested and effective at relieving the most common symptoms of dry scalp. It also offers soothing properties for added comfort. If you're grappling with a dry, itchy, or sensitive scalp, a collagen treatment like this could be what your hair care routine needs.

Seek Medical Advice

If your scalp pain persists despite adopting these strategies, or if it is severe, it might be time to seek medical advice. A healthcare provider can examine your scalp, determine the culprit and recommend appropriate treatments. This could involve prescription shampoos, topical treatments, or, in some cases, oral medications.


Conclusion: Why Does My Scalp Hurt?

Scalp pain can be annoying and even a cause for concern. However, figuring out the root cause, using proven treatments, and consulting with professionals to see if you have underlying medical conditions go a long way.

Two Herbs offers an array of treatments like Scalp Peeling Gel or scalp massages to stimulate blood flow. Give your scalp the proper attention it needs. Shop now and find clinically tested treatments for your hair and scalp. All natural and sulphate-free, our products are easily among the best in the market.


Frequently Asked Questions On Why My Scalp Hurts

Why Do I Have A Tender Scalp?

A tender scalp can result from many causes, including physical stress or trauma such as a head injury or sunburn. Hormonal changes, particularly around menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause, can also lead to scalp sensitivity.

Does Scalp Pain Lead To Hair Loss?

While scalp pain doesn't directly cause hair loss, underlying issues causing scalp pain, like severe dandruff, psoriasis, or frequent use of harsh hair care products, can lead to hair loss. It's essential to address scalp issues promptly to prevent hair damage.

When Should I Be Concerned About Scalp Pain?

Scalp pain that is severe, persistent, or associated with other symptoms like hair loss, skin changes, or systemic symptoms like fever or weight loss should be a cause for concern. It's always advisable to seek professional medical advice under these circumstances.

Can I Use Topical Skin Creams On My Scalp?

While some topical skin creams can be used on the scalp, ensure they're non-comedogenic (won't block pores) and suitable for your specific scalp condition. Always seek a healthcare professional's advice before introducing a new product to your scalp care routine.

Do Tension Headaches Cause Scalp Pain?

Tension headaches, often caused by stress or poor posture, can sometimes lead to scalp pain as the muscles in your neck, face, and scalp tense up. If your headaches are frequent and associated with scalp pain, it's advisable to seek medical attention.

Can Dry Shampoo Cause Scalp Pain?

Over-reliance on dry shampoo can lead to product build-up on the scalp, potentially causing scalp irritation and pain. It's not a substitute for regular washing and should be used sparingly to maintain a healthy scalp.

Can Hair Dryers Make My Scalp Hurt?

Yes. Excessive use of hair dryers can make your scalp hurt. The heat can dry out your scalp, leading to irritation, flakiness, and a resultant soreness. Using a hairdryer in a cooler setting and at a distance from your scalp is advisable to prevent this discomfort.

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