You might have experienced pain in your head and thought to yourself “why does my head hurt”? Many of us suffer from this condition – yes your head hurting is an actual thing, and it is known as scalp tenderness. Having a scalp that is inflamed, irritated and extremely sensitive can be quite problematic. Yet a large number of people do suffer from the condition and are unable to identify the signs or get a diagnosis.
What is important to remember is that scalp pain, and sensitivity can be a sign of an underlying condition. So it is crucial to determine the cause of the problem. In this article, we will be looking at what scalp tenderness is and work out ways to provide you relief from the condition, so keep on reading!
Understanding the Science behind a Sensitive Scalp:
A painful scalp is a common complaint, but many may not know what it means. The condition refers to the inflammation, itching, numbness, irritation, throbbing, sensitivity on the scalp. Well yes, these are a whole lot of symptoms that you may experience. Either one or two from the above or a combination of these. Signs that may appear together are linked immune processes as a result of a variety of conditions. These can either be as harmless as dandruff or an autoimmune disorder that requires immediate medical attention.
What Causes Scalp Tenderness?
As mentioned earlier, a variety of reasons may cause scalp pain and sensitivity; it can be an infection, an infestation, skin disorders such as dermatitis, autoimmune diseases such as psoriasis or any condition that affects the tissues, nerves and blood vessels either below the scalp or surrounding it or something as simple as a sunburn or a wounds. Let’s have a detailed look at these causes:
A large number of reasons that contribute to scalp pain are neurological and are due to the causes that put direct pressure on the scalp. Headaches (both tension and cluster), and migraines are related to scalp tenderness. Explicitly speaking it can be linked to aches that involve the nerves running from the neck to the forehead. It is due to the swelling or restriction of these nerves which causes pain in the neck, scalp, and forehead. Any other issues that make the muscles tense can worsen the symptoms such as stress, tension, and anxiety. Research suggests that the pain may appear in the form of high-intensity electric-like shocks. Another neurological condition named trigeminal neuralgia. Which affects the sensation to your face may also be a reason for scalp pain that can further spread to other parts such as jaw, teeth, and lips.
Our immune system protects our body from the attack of germs, bacteria and harmful diseases but in certain conditions. It begins attacking the body itself, these are known as autoimmune disorders. Among these, the diseases that can cause inflammation of the vessels in the head are another cause of scalp tenderness such as Giant Cell Arteritis. Also known as Temporal Arteritis the condition causes the medium and large arteries (that carry oxygenated blood to the head) to become inflamed which narrows the arteries and affects the flow of blood. The symptoms for the condition include fatigue, muscle aches, fever, along with a headache. In case of such symptoms, you need to consult the primary care physician to get the disorder diagnosed and treated.
Are you experiencing inflammation or irritation on the scalp along with crusting and oozing bumps? If it is accompanied by itching or the sensation of an insect crawling on your head. It is most definitely a lice infestation. These insects feed on our blood and are contagious. So it needs to be cured immediately to prevent it from further spreading on your scalp. Initially, you may also confuse the lice nits for dandruff, but a significant difference is that the tiny nits are glued to the hair strands. These nits can survive on the scalp even longer than the lice (which can live up to 30 days), so it is essential to get rid of these pesky insects.
Various scalp conditions such as the easy to treat dandruff or eczema of the scalp (which we will be discussing in the coming articles), psoriasis, etc. can cause the skin on the scalp to become rough, itchy and inflamed. These may also lead to bleeding, weeping and blistering. Another common disorder is contact dermatitis which occurs as a result of an allergic reaction due to contact with any of the following things:
- Some metals.
- Hair dyes.
- Styling products such as sprays, gels, mousses.
- Some hair care products.
- Poison ivy.
Common symptoms of dermatitis include itchy rashes, crusty and swollen skin along with blisters and flakes.
Bacterial or fungal infections that affect the hair shaft and scalp are another reason behind the sensitivity and tenderness of the scalp. These include infections like folliculitis, carbunculosis, furunculosis, Tinea capitis (or the ringworm,) and tinea versicolor, etc. As a result of these disorders, the scalp may become sore, painful and have skin lesions with pus oozing out. Infections such as scalp ringworm may also lead to hair loss.
Other causes include disorders such as cervical myelopathy which results from the compression of the cervical cord which itself is caused by autoimmune spinal infections, trauma to the spine, autoimmune, congenital, or oncological disorders, etc.
Sunburns due to the exposure of the scalp to the sun rays for more extended hours or hairstyles such as tight ponytails, braids or buns that can put excessive strain on the scalp can also be a cause of discomfort to the scalp.
Trauma that causes wounds or internal injuries can result in scalp pain that may occur for an extended period. It can either be uncomplicated or may have prolonged effects that can be dangerous, so it is crucial to consult a specialist. Also if you having itchy scalp then this guide might help you to learn about itchy scalp causes.
Symptoms of Scalp Tenderness:
You may either experience visible signs such as scaling, peeling of the skin, swelling and blistering or may not have any visible indications at all. In severe cases, the scalp can pus or bleed and become extremely painful to touch. Since the symptoms for multiple conditions are quite similar, it will be hard to identify what it exactly is without a proper diagnosis.
Diagnosis for Scalp Tenderness:
The diagnosis and the treatment itself can take time for severe conditions or persistent disorders. Your doctor will ask you questions regarding your diet, routine, any injuries; they will also ask for your medical history. They may conduct a physical examination and take a sample of your follicle or scalp skin for testing.
How do I know if I Am At the Risk of Developing Scalp Tenderness?
Although anyone may contract conditions that can make the scalp sensitive and cause pain, there are a few people who are at a higher risk of developing scalp tenderness. Here are six risk factors that you must consider to determine how prone you may be to the condition
- People with a greasy scalp and overactive sebaceous glands are susceptible to scalp pain as they may develop any of the conditions that lead to tenderness. They may also experience sensitive skin in other parts as well.
- Those who are stressed, anxious or depressed are also prone to scalp tenderness since that increases the tension in the muscles.
- People living in cold areas or places with varying temperatures and particularly those who have allergies or asthma need to be extremely careful as they can quickly develop sensitivity.
How is Scalp Tenderness Treated?
Since there are different causes for the problem, the course of treatment also differs for each one of these. For instance, if your scalp inflammation and irritation is due to dandruff. You can effectively treat it at home by making a few lifestyle changes and purchasing the right hair care products that suit your scalp. But for fungal infections that are contagious or autoimmune disorders, you will require different treatment.
Many of the conditions can heal on their own, without requiring medical assistance. Some can be treated at home using over-the-counter treatments such as first-aid treatments, ointments, and antiseptics while others can get better merely by improving hygiene and choosing the right hair care and styling products. In the case of inflammation, itchiness or pain the first step will be to alleviate these signs. You can further read about oily scalp and dry scalp treatments and causes here.
Home Remedies for Scalp Tenderness:
As mentioned earlier some problems do go away in some time, but they do cause such unbearable pain that it becomes necessary to look for a method for soothing the scalp. These treatments can’t cure the condition but provide instant relief:
Use a Medicated Shampoo:
I always purchase products that are prescribed by my dermatologist. So you should also get your doctor to prescribe you one according to your hair type or buy any from the popular brands available. These will help soothe the inflammation and can also prevent itching and flaking.
Tea-tree oil is useful for fighting bacteria due to its antifungal, antiseptic and antimicrobial properties. It can aid in lowering the soreness and inflammation on your scalp, clearing clogged hair follicles and preventing itching. You can use it along with a carrier oil such as coconut, olive, jojoba and apply it to your hair.
Whenever we experience a burn or wound, many of us use aloe vera due to its healing properties. Well, it can also be helpful for a sore and inflamed scalp as it contains Campesterol. Which aids in the generation of new skin cells. It is also an excellent antibacterial agent, so it can prevent the condition from further spreading or worsening. You can either apply the gel directly over the affected scalp areas or purchase an ointment commonly available at stores that contain aloe as the active ingredient.
The pH of the scalp plays a crucial role in maintaining the overall health and texture of hair. Any disbalances in the scalp pH can cause the skin to become painful. To help balance out the natural levels consider using lemon juice. Similar to aloe vera, you can either apply it directly or mix it with a few drops of water. Other products that can be used to prevent itching and flaking of the skin include apple cider vinegar and baking soda.
The tea is known for its soothing properties and can help treat a sore and burning scalp. What you have to do is boil the chamomile tea for 20 minutes in water and strain the mixture afterward. Use this mixture on your hair after shampooing to help with the sensitivity.
A natural antibiotic, neem aids in calming soreness and helps with the burning sensation on the scalp. You can add 15 drops of the oil to your shampoo and use the mixture to wash your hair gently. It will work as an effective cleanser clearing product build-ups and debris from the surface of the scalp.
Tips to Prevent Scalp Tenderness:
Apart from finding ways of treating the soreness and inflammation. It is also crucial to eliminate the cause of the problem. Before you visit a doctor, based on your experience you can take one or more of the following steps
- If you are experiencing flaking skin along with itchiness, then avoid scratching the scalp as that can worsen the problem.
- Avoid hairstyles that put pressure on the hair. Such styles may also lead to hair loss apart from the pain or a receding hairline.
- Wear a hat before stepping outside to prevent sunburn to the scalp. Use it every day to keep your head safe.
- Analyze if you have any triggers that cause stress and anxiety and work on eliminating these stressors to prevent scalp tenderness due to stress and anxiety.
You can use any of these effective tips to cure and even prevent scalp tenderness as much as possible. However, if nothing seems to work and the symptoms instead aggravate it is best to visit a dermatologist and follow whatever tests and treatment they prescribe.
People who read the Scalp Tenderness article, also went on for Scalp Fungus, Give it a try you won’t be disappointed.