When your scalp hurts or itches, you may feel an overwhelming urge to touch or scratch it. When you do that, the pain or itchiness just seems to get worse. The problem may get so bad that you may begin to lose hair in the affected areas of your head. Why does the scalp hurt? What are the remedies for scalp hurt?
Why does the Scalp Hurt?
There are many things that can cause your scalp to hurt. The possible causes of this problem include:
1. Harsh chemicals
One of the most common causes of a painful scalp is the use of harsh chemicals that can result in sores on the scalp. Hair coloring and shampoos that contain sodium laureth sulfate are particularly harsh and continued use of these products will strip the hair and scalp of the natural protective oils.
2. Fungal infection
Sores on the scalp may be a result of a fungal infection such as ringworm. Ringworm creates round, red patches on the scalp that may be very itchy. When scratched, a secondary infection and inflammation may occur. With a fungal infection, you may notice hair loss in the infected spots.
3. Bacterial infection
In addition to fungal infections, bacterial infections such as impetigo or folliculitis can lead to a painful scalp. These infections of the skin and hair follicles can cause red, inflamed spots on the scalp that often contain pus.
4. Viral infection
Viral infections such as shingles and chickenpox can appear on the scalp. Painful and itchy, these infections can lead to scratching and secondary bacterial infections of the scalp.
5. Fungus tinea
Fungus tinea is a very contagious infection of the scalp normally seen in children. This infection results in red, itchy patches on the scalp and peeling of the skin. You may also see secondary bacterial infections due to scratching of the areas.
Psoriasis is an immune system disease in which the body begins replacing skin cells at a rate that is much faster than normal. These immature cells begin to accumulate and form the characteristic scaly skin of psoriasis. This condition on the scalp can result in pain, sores, and hair loss.
If you are undergoing chemotherapy treatments, one of the side effects is a scalp that hurts before hair loss occurs. In women, about 20 percent will experience pain before hair loss occurs; in men, less than 10 percent report this pain.
8. Muscle contraction headache
If you experience headaches caused by muscle contractions, the muscle contractions may actually cause your scalp to hurt. The discomfort may be intense enough that it will be painful when you brush your hair. This scalp pain typically goes away as the headache subsides.
9. Excessive scalp oil
If your hair and scalp are excessively oily, the skin of your scalp may become inflamed and sore. You may also have a very itchy scalp resulting in scratching and possible secondary infections.
10. Contact dermatitis
Contact dermatitis is an allergy to some substance in the environment. When you come into contact with the substance, sore spots may develop anywhere on the body, including the scalp.
Stress can lead to spots on the scalp and can also keep spots caused by other conditions to heal more slowly.
12. Other causes
There are other less common reasons your scalp may hurt. Acne, dry skin, hair that is pulled back into a tight style and excessive combing and brushing of long, heavy hair may lead to a sore scalp.
Remedies for Scalp Hurt
Remedies for sore scalp:
1. Avoid products that contain sodium laurel sulfate
Sodium laurel sulfate (SLS) is one of the harsh chemicals that can damage the hair and scalp. Present in about 90% of commercially available shampoos, SLS can cause inflammation to the skin and retardation of hair growth. It can also prevent healing of sores that are present on the scalp. Look for hair care products that do not contain this chemical.
2. Use certain essential oils for massage
A mixture of melaleuca, margosa, rosemary and lavender essential oils can help to heal sores that are causing scalp pain. In a glass of warm water, add a half teaspoon each of melaleuca and margosa and a tablespoon each of rosemary and lavender. Mix it well and massage it gently into your hair and scalp. Leave it in for 15-20 minutes before washing it out. The combined antiseptic effect of these oils will decrease the pain and help in the healing process.
3. Take medications if necessary
For fungal and bacterial causes of scalp pain, your healthcare provider may want you to use anti-fungal skin creams or shampoo. Miconazole and ketoconazole are often recommended for fungus infections. For bacterial infections, your physician may prescribe an antibiotic cream or pill.
4. Take preventive measures
Of course, prevention is the best cure and a painful scalp can usually be prevented.
- First, keep your hair and scalp clean, but do not dry it out by washing too often. Depending on what you are doing, a thorough washing is probably necessary only 2 or 3 times each week.
- Use a good gentle shampoo. When you wash your hair, be sure to wash your hairbrush and comb. Do not share your hairbrush and teach your children not to share.
Notes: Do not delay in seeing your healthcare provider if you have sores on your scalp frequently or for long periods. The provider can help determine the cause of the sores and provide appropriate treatment. Remember that antibiotic, antifungal, and antiviral medications must usually be prescribed by your provider. The sooner you begin definitive treatment, the less likely you will be to develop further problems.