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If Your Hair Hurts, Here’s Why

It’s a mysterious pain. It seems like a headache, or it should be a scalp ache, but your hair just hurts. Surely you’d like to figure out why and what you can do about it. In this post, we’ll talk about the reasons why your hair hurts scientifically to help you understand how to relieve the pain.

Why Does Your Hair hurt?

It really is your scalp that’s aching, but because your hair extends from it, it feels like the pain is moving up and out. Scalp pain happens as a result of inflammation or irritation.

There are many ways the scalp can become affected in this manner, so read through these, and maybe you’ll see which applies to you. This way you can come to a solution to get things back to normal.

A Sensitive Scalp Can Make Your Hair Hurt

Reasons Why Hair Hurts - Seborrheic dermatitis

Sensitive scalp is provoked by product use–usually by a product you haven’t tried before. The side effects of the different ingredients in a product and how much to use in a formula to avoid irritation is usually known.

What isn’t always known is how two or more chemicals might react with each other on your skin. Using an unfamiliar product can result in:

  • Allergic reactions: You might have extreme itching in the scalp, redness and possibly even a rash.
  • Seborrheic dermatitis: This is what’s commonly called dandruff or eczema of the scalp. It’s flaky itching that starts with too much yeast and oil on the scalp but is made worse by sensitivities to hair products.

Tight Pulling Can Make Your Hair Hurt

Reasons Why Hair Hurts - Tight Pulling

When you pull your hair into a tight ponytail or braids, or when you have the added weight of hair extensions pulling at your hair follicles, it can make your scalp inflamed. This can lead to pain. Tight pulling can cause traction alopecia, too, so be careful.

Traction alopecia is hair loss that comes as a result of tugging on the hair follicles. You might first notice breakage, a stinging in the scalp or pain, then hair thinning as the hair follicles release hair under the pressure of the inflammation.

If you have inflammation due to tight pulling, it might only be noticeable when you adjust your hairstyle. In this scenario, anytime the hair moves within the root, it causes pain, whether it is pulling the hair up, moving it to the side or brushing it.

Stress Can Cause Painful Hair

Doctors are trained to ask about your stress levels to try and ascertain the causes of different ailments. Stress causes inflammation in the body, which can impact different systems. When your scalp is inflamed it could be because of:

Telogen effluvium: This is when the hair falls out in clumps because of trauma. There are times when painful hair is a precursor to telogen effluvium.

Migraine headaches: If you have severe headaches or migraines, they are usually due to stress. With these, it might feel as if your hair is hurting, too.

Folliculitis Can Make Your Hair Hurt

Reasons Why Hair Hurts - Folliculitis

Folliculitis is an infection in the hair follicles. Infections cause inflammation, hence the pain. Sometimes these infections are because of sticky hair products clogging the hair follicles.

Hair gel, curl definers and hair spray should all be cleansed from the scalp before applying a new layer to the hair or scalp. If not, these can cause sebum to be trapped inside the scalp and scalp acne or folliculitis could result.

Folliculitis is also caused by the overuse or misuse of dry shampoo. The residue from dry shampoo can clog hair follicles, as well, especially when the product is sprayed onto the scalp.

Dry shampoo should be used sparingly and on occasion, not as an ongoing replacement for regular shampoo. Washing your hair daily with a mild, antibiotic shampoo should take care of folliculitis.

Fibromyalgia Can Cause Scalp Tenderness

Fibromyalgia is a disease that causes pain in the body. Being a part of the body, fibromyalgia can affect the scalp. See your doctor if none of the other causes on this list sound familiar.

When Should You See a Doctor for Scalp Pain?

If your hair hurting is accompanied by changes to the scalp or hair fall, definitely see a dermatologist. If the pain is continual and you can’t seem to get rid of it or have other unrelated neurological symptoms, it’s best to see a doctor.


Why does my hair hurt when touched?

If your hair hurts only when you touch it and you’re not even manipulating it, your scalp inflammation might be severe. If you have other symptoms, you should see a doctor.

Why does my hair hurt when I take it down?

If you’re pulling your hair tightly in a top knot or high ponytail, you’re tugging at your hair follicles. This can cause inflammation which in turn causes pain.

When should I be concerned about scalp pain?

If it persists even if you stop doing the things mentioned in this article, then it’s cause for concern. 

Why does my hair hurt when I move it after a ponytail?

It sounds like your ponytail is too tight.

What’s the best cure for when your hair hurts?

Try washing your hair in cool water to lower the inflammation. But if you’ve had an allergic reaction, you’ll have to wait until it passes before washing your hair.

My scalp hurts severely after hair dye, and I don’t know what to do.

This means that the chemicals that were used to dye your hair reached your scalp and caused irritation and inflammation.

You’ll have to wait it out. If you’re sensitive to chemical hair dyes, you might want to reconsider before you have another color treatment.

Why does my hair hurt when I’m sick?

If you have a head cold, you might also have inflammation in the scalp in addition to inflammation in the nasal passage and pressure in the brain.

To sum up, scalp inflammation and pain can usually be handled just by doing the opposite of what you were doing. For example, if you wear tight hairstyles, wearing loose hairstyles might stop the pain.

Remember, if the pain persists for weeks, it might be a more serious medical issue, and you should see your doctor.

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