Tress Trouble: Scalp Pain
Scalp pain is fairly common and could result from a variety of factors. A lot of people suffer from scalp sensitivity and this could be because of the way the individual styles his hair or this could also be a result of underlying health issues. There are 5 distinct layers of scalp and the pain is generated from the nerves in the scalp and it can even happen if you simply move your hair. However, there is no cause for worry as it is treatable.
Does Your Scalp Hurt?
Scalp pain can manifest itself through a range of sensations. There could be itching, burning, aching, soreness or tingling leading to that tender spot on your head. This could be because of conditions that affect the nerves, tissues or blood vessels below or around the scalp. Inflammation of the blood vessels below the scalp could build up pressure in the nerve cells of the hair follicles and lead to a sore scalp causing them to hurt. At times this pain is accompanied by flaking and peeling of the skin while on occasions there could be no visible symptoms.
If your scalp pain reason is a headache, a pain killer can give you relief. Some of the common scalp pain causes are:
- Traction alopecia: This type of pain happens if the hair is pulled back with great force to style it. People who wear braids, weaves or ponytails are susceptible to this problem. This usually leads to scalp tenderness and hair loss.
- Scalp psoriasis: This problem occurs when the immune system attacks the body instead of protecting it. New cells form on the old, unshed skin and create flaky, itchy patches. Scratching the patches can lead to bleeding and hair loss.
- Seborrheic dermatitis: An oily scalp is responsible for seborrheic dermatitis. This causes scaly patches and dandruff and generally occurs in those parts of the body where there are a number of sebaceous glands.
- Allodynia: This condition causes pain when the hair is moved.
- Folliculitis: This is caused by yeast, bacteria or dust mites and results in the inflammation of the follicles. Itchy bumps dot the skin and these painful bumps on scalp become crusty and painful.
Some other conditions may also be responsible for pain in the scalp including:
- Any allergic reaction
- Skin cell or hair follicle infection
- The chemicals in hair products like dyes and shampoos
- Overuse of hair styling products such as curlers, irons or dryers
- Helmets worn for a long time
- Diseases that affect the skin such as measles or small pox
- Headbands used to stretch or hold hair.
Reasons for Tender ScalpThe treatment process for scalp pain depends on the diagnosis for the pain. If you experience pain while touching or moving your hair, a detailed look-in by a dermatologist is required. The diagnosis would involve a comprehensive analysis of the medical history and the diet of the individual. This would take into account any recent injuries or changes in the general health of the person. The scalp might need to be examined and any recent change in the general health pattern taken into consideration. A follicle might be sent for testing and body hair patterns tested. In most cases the conditions responsible for scalp pain disappear on their own. A certain amount of hygiene and basic cleaning are enough to ensure that the skin heals well. Also, a balanced diet, regular exercise and good sleeping habits could go a long way in helping you beat the pain issue. For pains and irritation an ointment or a medicated cream is likely to be suggested. Medicated washes and rinses, shampoos and conditioners are advised to deal with tenderness issues. If the pain does not subside after a one cycle treatment or with any OTC medication, you have to take the help of your dermatologist.
Treatment for Scalp Pain
If you are suffering from an allergic reaction you would be well advised to stay away from any hair product for a couple of days and rinse your hair with plain water instead. Do not use any product to condition hair until the reaction is over. If the pain co-occurs with a headache, it could also mean that the two are related and then an OTC pain reliever might help you tide over the crisis.
If a person is suffering from scalp psoriasis the following scalp pain treatment options are available:
- Topical lotions
- Medicated shampoos
- Scale softeners
For seborrheic dermatitis use an antidandruff shampoo or an antifungal cream or shampoo. Clean the area with a 2% zinc product and keep your scalp moisturised.
For folliculitis, an antibacterial cleanser or an antibiotic is required. At times a bacterial culture to ascertain the cause could be suggested. For these painful sores on scalp, you can also try the following options:
- wash regularly with an antifungal shampoo
- steroids or topical antibiotics
- acne medications
There are also some very effective scalp pain home remedies. Let’s take a look at some of them.
- Dab lemon juice across your scalp with cotton. Leave it on for 15 minutes before washing it off with water.
- Whisk a couple of eggs and apply it across your scalp. Wash off after half an hour with water.
- Use diluted apple cider vinegar to rinse your hair one a week. The excellent anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties will ensure your hair health.
Hair Care Tips for Healthy Scalp
Though it is only possible to think of ways to stop the pain after it occurs you can take some precautionary measures to ensure a healthy scalp.
- Take treatment for conditions like eczema or scalp psoriasis during the preliminary stage itself when the effects are not felt deeply. While taking treatment for psoriasis, it is important to differentiate between scalp psoriasis vs dandruff as psoriasis is longer lasting and irritating.
- Ensure that the products that you use do not use harmful ingredients like dyes and bleach that produce allergic reactions. Avoid products that use sulphates, fragrances or alcohols.
- Shampoo gently and regularly with lukewarm water. The lukewarm water will help maintain the moisture levels of your scalp. Massage and do not scrub. Do not wash more frequently to remove oiliness from hair as it could only end up aggravating the problem.
- Taking dietary supplements like omega-3 fatty acids will go a long way in preventing hair loss and improving hair health. They provide nourishment to the scalp and reduce inflammation. Enhance your antioxidant and probiotic intake.
- Use a scalp scrub to exfoliate your scalp and remove all impurities. This will also help nutrients reach the hair follicles to nourish them.
- Massaging your hair regularly with coconut or olive oil for 5-10 minutes will go a long way in improving blood circulation and providing nourishment to your hair.
- Do not expose your hair to the harmful UV rays of the sun for a long duration. Use a spray or sunscreen shampoo to protect your hair.
Scalp pain is a problem that many of us have to deal with very frequently and there are a range of reasons too. Some of the causes do not need any medication and yet many others do. The first step to treating the problem is to arrive at a proper diagnosis. At Traya, our experts are specially trained to deal with this and many more other hairy issues. Do come and find out more about our scientific and personalised methods of ensuring the health of your tresses.
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Dr. Jaspreet Sarna, M.D
Dr. Sarna is an MD (Skin & VD) with a decade-long experience in treating hair loss and working on hair regrowth. She believes stress management is the key to good health.