If you’ve ever felt like your hair hurts, know that you’re not alone. Scalp pain and tenderness can range from being a minor annoyance to downright unbearable. Unfortunately, the aging process can make us more susceptible to scalp pain. You may notice an increase in scalp sensitivity due to hormonal changes that exacerbate scalp tenderness. While there are numerous causes of scalp pain, fortunately, there are also several treatment options available. This article explores the top 10 most common causes of scalp pain and offers tips for treatment and prevention as shared by HAIRDRESSING / HAIR AND BEAUTY / COSMETOLOGY experts.

1. Migraines

Migraine sufferers often describe a unique and unbearable pain that can also cause scalp sensitivity. A migraine is a type of headache that can cause severe pain, often accompanied by symptoms like nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, vision changes, and decreased concentration. When it comes to your scalp, migraines can cause symptoms and pain including scalp tenderness due to the inflammation of blood vessels at the top of the head. Triggers for migraines can include hormonal changes, stress, reactions to certain foods and drinks, and some medications. Prevention strategies include avoiding triggers and possibly taking medication to alleviate symptoms.

    2. Infections of the Hair Follicles

    Scalp pain can also be a symptom of hair follicle infections caused by bacteria, fungal infections, and viruses. These infections, collectively known as folliculitis, can cause symptoms like redness, itching, tenderness, and swelling of the scalp. Treatment depends on the cause and may include topical ointments, oral antibiotics, antifungal ointments, or specialized shampoos.

    3. Tight Hairstyles

    Tight hairstyles like ponytails, buns, cornrows, dreadlocks, weaves, extensions, and tight braids can pull at the scalp, causing tenderness and even traction alopecia. Loosening your hairstyle or alternating between loose and tight styles can help prevent this kind of scalp pain.

    4. Stress

    Stress can cause physical symptoms like scalp pain, as well as a host of other symptoms. Effective stress management techniques can help alleviate scalp pain and improve overall wellness.

    5. Allergic Reactions

    Allergic reactions to hair care products like shampoos, conditioners, gels, and hairsprays can cause scalp pain. Opting for products with natural ingredients or doing a “spot test” before using a new product can help prevent these reactions.

    6. Sunburns

    Scalp sunburns can be particularly painful and can occur even if you have hair. Preventing scalp sunburns by wearing a sun hat and treating them with cold water, cold compresses, and moisturizers can help alleviate this type of scalp pain.

    7. Auto-immune Disorders

    Autoimmune disorders can also cause scalp pain as they can lead to conditions like psoriasis, alopecia, and nerve damage. If you have an autoimmune disorder and are experiencing scalp pain, it’s important to consult with a medical professional for appropriate treatment options.

    8. Dandruff

    Dandruff, caused by yeast on a dry scalp or oil buildup, can lead to scalp itching and pain. A doctor should be consulted if the dandruff also includes pain, sores, and redness.

    9. Alopecia Areata

    Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease that attacks the scalp and skin cells, damaging the follicles and causing hair loss. Stress plays a major role in the disease, as it does with all autoimmune diseases.

    10. Hormones

    For women, hormonal changes during periods or menopause can cause scalp pain due to increased prostaglandin production and inflammation.

    How To Treat (and Prevent!) Scalp Pain

    HAIRDRESSING / HAIR AND BEAUTY / COSMETOLOGY experts all agree effective treatment and prevention of scalp pain involve treating your scalp with delicate care and special attention. This could involve avoiding tight hairstyles, managing stress levels, and visually checking your scalp for any signs of irritation. If your scalp pain is due to a skin condition or rash, visiting a dermatologist is advisable. Over-the-counter treatment methods could also be your course of action for less severe cases. Always consult with a medical professional if you’re unsure about the cause of your scalp pain.


    Scalp tenderness isn’t something you should have to deal with. Determining the cause of what could be the reason or reasons behind your scalp pain is the first step to relief. Whether your scalp pain is due to lifestyle factors like wearing high ponytails, or it could be a medical condition, knowing the most common causes can help you establish what to do to feel better. Consulting a HAIRDRESSING / HAIR AND BEAUTY / COSMETOLOGY expert is advisable should you not be able to identify the cause. Always keep in mind that this article is not meant to replace medical advice but rather to inform you.


    For more information or to enroll in a HAIRDRESSING / HAIR AND BEAUTY / COSMETOLOGY course, contact us at 011 452 2447 or Nicolene@hydroint.co.za. You can also visit our website at www.hydroint.co.za or send us a WhatsApp message at (+27) 082 337 0358.

    Open chat
    Need help?
    Welcome to Hydro International College!

    How may we assist you?