If you’ve ever pulled your hair just to wonder why your hair hurts when you move, then that strange feeling isn’t just in your head. Although the pain in your mane may sound strange, believe us, it’s a practical thing. And it’s not uncommon.
Hair pain stems from problems with your scalp. In other words, your hairs themselves are not painful, but the pain is caused by the skin around the hair, which has many blood vessels, nerve endings, and oil glands.
“We feel pain when the brain interprets the signals emitted by nerves,” said Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital. There are many reasons why your scalp may be sore, [like] neurological problems [or] dermatitis.”
Here, Dr. Zeichner takes a look at the most common causes of scalp pain to help you find the root of the problem. In addition, he shares ways to prevent pain and soothe your sensitive scalp.
When dandruff scales flare-up, you may have more scalp pain.
Here’s why: Dandruff is a condition characterized by higher levels of yeast on the scalp. Dr. Zeichner said overgrowth of this yeast leads to inflammation, leading to redness, scaly scabs, itching, and in more serious cases pain.
Fix: Using dandruff shampoo contains zinc parathion, which helps reduce yeast levels on the scalp and can help reduce inflammation, Dr. Zeichner said. He recommends Dove DermaCare Scalp Anti-Dandruff Shampoo (Amazon, $4.99).
But keep in mind that shampoo needs enough time to come into contact with the scalp to take effect. “Rub your fingertips on your scalp and let it sit while you sing the alphabet before washing it off,” says Dr. Zeichner.
According to the Mayo Clinic, you should also wash your hair based on your hair type. If you have a greasy scalp, washing your hair daily can help prevent dandruff. Conversely, for people with dry hair and sensitive scalp, washing their hair less often may be a better option.
Other ways to get rid of dandruff
Here are some other tips for preventing or treating dandruff, according to the Mayo Clinic:
Work on stress management. Stress can trigger (or worsen) dandruff.
Eat a nutrient-rich diet. Zinc, B vitamins, and certain types of fat can help prevent dandruff.
Spend time outdoors. The sun can help limit or control dandruff – just remember to apply sunscreen.
2. Greasy accumulation
“By nature, we have a high oil gland density in the scalp, and if we don’t wash our hair regularly, that amount of oil can build up,” says Dr. Zeichner.
This excess oil not only causes you to get greasy in the hair but can also lead to itching. This can cause later scratching, causing discomfort, and can cause your scalp to hurt when you move your hair, he says.
Fix: Prevent and reduce greasy buildup (and scalp pain) with more frequent shampooing, Says Dr. Zeichner.
But again, pay attention to your hair type. Washing your hair too much can dry out the sensitive scalp and cause dandruff scales to form.
Also, limit the use of styling products (especially dry shampoos), which can build up on hair and scalp and make them more oily, according to the Mayo Clinic.
3. Hair follicle inflammation
Another potential reason why your hair hurts when you move? Cystitis.
Dr. Zeichner said: “Hair follicle inflammation is a bacterial infection that enters the hair follicle, leading to pustules. The skin-related disease can also be caused by viruses, fungi, and even irritated ingrown hair, according to the Mayo Clinic.
In some cases, hair follicle inflammation can spread, causing inflammation and itching, burning, pain, soft skin, Dr. Zeichner said.
“If you’re suffering from cystitis, see a dermatologist for prescription antibiotics,” says Dr. Zeichner.
Home remedies, such as warm compresses and anti-itch creams, can also help soothe symptoms.
Although eczema usually appears on the hands, neck, elbows, ankles, knees, feet, and around the eyes, this incessant rash can also emerge on the scalp and cause pain.
Dr. Zeichner said: “Eczema is a condition in which the skin’s protective barrier does not work as well as it normally does, causing cracks in the outer skin. This, he explains, leads to dehydration and inflammation, which can cause itching, discomfort or pain.
Let’s fix it: “We treat eczema in batches,” Dr. Zeichner said. “First we want to moisturize the skin and repair the skin’s protective barrier.” So moisturizing the scalp can be helpful, he said.
According to the Mayo Clinic, bathing and bathing for shorter periods of time (that is, between 10 and 15 minutes) with warm – not hot water – can reduce your risk of drying out your skin and scalp. Using gentle shampoos that do not lose natural oils on the scalp can also help maintain moisture.
He said: “The other half of the story is reduced inflammation. You can start with over-the-counter anti-inflammatory treatments like Scalpicin (Amazon, $11.51). But if these ways don’t help, see a dermatologist for a prescription.
Avoid indigo agents
According to the Mayo Clinic, you can also prevent outbreaks by identifying and avoiding triggers, which may include:
Soap or detergent
Dust or pollen
Some foods such as eggs, milk, soy, and wheat
5. Wear a tight hairstyle
Your hair can be damaged by the byproduct of you tying a high ponytail.
Dr. Zeichner said: “Pulling the hair too tightly can put pressure on the hair follicles, leading to inflammation.
Not only can this cause pain, but it can also lead to permanent damage to the follicles and a specific form of hair loss called pull-induced hair loss, where people often grow thin along the frontal hairline, he said.
Fix: If possible, braid your hair or tie your braids. Dr. Zeichner said: “You can’t undo any damage that has occurred, but I always recommend letting your hairstyle go loose to maintain hair health.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, your scalp pain can be caused by an allergy, a type of nerve pain that makes you extremely sensitive to the touch, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
With allodynia, things that aren’t painful for most – like combing their hair, tying their hair in a ponytail, or washing their hair – can become extremely uncomfortable.
This unpleasant nerve pain is often a side effect of another underlying health condition such as diabetes, shingles, fibromyalgia, and migraines, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Fix: See your doctor, who can diagnose and treat the condition that causes arrhythmias, and come up with an appropriate pain management plan.