Scalp Sensitivity: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments (2023)

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Scalp sensitivity is a very common complaint associated with a number of medical conditions that affect many people.

(Video) What are the causes of a sensitive and painful scalp? - Dr. Amee Daxini

migraines, strainHeadachesand autoimmune diseases such assoriasisall can cause the scalp to become inflamed, irritated, and painful. Sunburns, rashes, cold sores, and insect bites are also common causes of scalp sensitivity.

Most cases of scalp sensitivity go away on their own or with medication, but some are signs of an underlying condition.

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Scalp tenderness is defined as pain,inflammation, tingling, numbness, irritation, itching, throbbing, or scalp sensitivity. Many of these symptoms often appear together and are related to immunological processes in response to a variety of conditions.

Some scalp sensitivity is caused by conditions that affect the blood vessels, nerves, and tissues under or around the scalp.

Often, there are no visible symptoms. Other times, scalp sensitivity is painfully obvious, involving flaking, peeling, and peeling skin.

The prevalence of scalp sensitivity is unknown, but the symptoms are considered to be quite common. Scalp sensitivity can accompany common conditions such as headaches, allergies, psoriasis,eczema, miHair loss.


(Video) What are the causes of a sensitive and painful scalp? - Dr. Amee Daxini

Scalp sensitivity is linked to many forms of headaches. In particular, scalp sensitivity is linked to headaches that involve the nerves that run from the back of the neck to the forehead.

Conditions that cause swelling or narrowing of these nerves can cause pain that spreads to the head, neck, and scalp. In accordance withUniversidad Johns Hopkins, this pain can appear as hot and intense electrical shocks.

The scalp becomes so sensitive for some people that even a light touch can be painful. In others, the scalp becomes numb. This form of nerve pain is rare and is usually caused by spontaneous compression or injury to a nerve. However, headaches involving these nerves are much more common.

Scalp sensitivity is also often linked to a variety of skin conditions, including:

  • skin rash
  • tanned
  • insect bites
  • lice
  • soriasis

Many of these conditions cause inflammation, pain, tenderness, skin peeling, flaking, and can even make the scalppusor bleed.

Dandruffis a common complaint that affects the places in the body where natural oils accumulate. It can cause red, scaly patches on the scalp. While not a sign of poor hygiene or illness, many people seek treatment out of irritation or embarrassment. Rarely, dandruff can also be caused by a fungal infection orhad.

Scalp psoriasis can also cause scalp tenderness and flaking or crusting of the skin. Unlike dandruff, the skin dries out with a silver sheen.Stress, hormones, dry or cold air can trigger psoriasis.

lichen planusit can also cause the scalp to flake or flake. This condition is also often caused by periods of stress or as a side effect of medical treatments.

If extreme, many of these conditions can cause reversible hair loss.

Alopecia and hair loss

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A form of hair loss calledalopecia areatait can also cause scalp sensitivity. In this condition, hair follicles fall out in round clumps from the scalp and sometimes from the body.

Alopecia areata occurs in patches, while alopecia totalis involves the loss of all the hair on the head. Alopecia universalis involves hair loss all over the body.

ONational Institute of Health(NIH) state that most forms of alopecia are generally not dangerous to health or a sign of nerve damage. Instead, they are usually the result of immune cells attacking hair follicles.


Other factors that can cause hair loss include:

  • poor diet, especially one lacking in protein and iron
  • lupus
  • hyperthyroidism
  • therapies likechemotherapyand radiation

Some women also experience reversible hair loss after childbirth, during hormone therapy, or duringmenopause.

In some cases of alopecia, it is likely that the hair will grow back. With other forms, the damage to the hair follicle is so severe that hair loss is irreversible.

Other causes of scalp sensitivity

Conditions that affect the skin on other parts of the body can also present on the scalp. These include:

  • acne
  • cysts
  • allergic reactions
  • infections of skin cells or hair follicles
  • viral diseases that cause skin sores, such asherpesmimeasles
  • tight hairstyles, headbands and headpieces
  • regular or inappropriate use of hair products such as dyes and relaxers
  • hair dryers, curling irons and curling irons

Brushing or rubbing your hair while it's wet can break hair follicles, causing hair loss and scalp irritation. Excessive brushing can also cause problems.

Although rare, scalp sensitivity can be a sign of more serious health problems, such as skin cells.cancersand melanomas. These conditions usually present as new or changed patches or persistent sores.

Especially painful, severe, or prolonged cases of scalp sensitivity should also be reported to a doctor.

Usually, a few visits will be needed to resolve more persistent or serious conditions that cause scalp sensitivity.

Doctors usually start by taking a medical history and asking questions about diet, routine, past injuries, other conditions, and recent changes.

The doctor can then examine the scalp. They may also collect a hair follicle or scalp sample to send for further testing. Some doctors can also check body hair patterns.

(Video) Scalp Pain? Electric Shock Feeling? How to Fix Occipital Neuralgia! | Dr Wil & Dr K

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In many cases, the conditions that cause scalp sensitivity go away on their own. Many also require basic cleaning and care to ensure the area heals successfully.

Various products are available for purchase online, includingointments,antiseptics, mibandage materials.

Homemade first aid ointments, creams, antiseptics, and bandages are usually enough to treat basic cases. Painful or long lasting scalp sensitivity should be reported to a physician.

Since many conditions are related to the sensitivity and sensitivity of the scalp, the course of treatment for each case can vary greatly. Treating the underlying cause of scalp sensitivity usually treats the symptoms.

Some type of medicated cream or ointment will likely be prescribed to control irritation, pain, and external symptoms along with other treatments. Medicated washes, shampoos, rinses, and conditioners are also commonly used to help treat scalp sensitivity.

In the United States, Minoxidil and laser devices are available over the counter (OTC) oronline. Finasteride is another treatmentapproved by the US Food and Drug Administration.(FDA). Studies have shown that it can slow down hair loss in80 percentcases of hereditary male pattern baldness or thinning caused by certain conditions. Corticosteroids can also be prescribed for more general cases.

Patients should read the instructions completely before starting treatment.

If an infection does not clear up after a course of treatment, patients should seek further guidance. The same advice applies to over-the-counter dandruff treatments. Pharmacists can help choose treatments and address concerns before starting any of the treatments.

Steps to take to soothe a sensitive scalp include:

(Video) Scalp psoriasis:Symptom, Cause, Treatment | Safe ways to Wash Hair -Dr. Rasya Dixit| Doctors' Circle

  • massage the scalp with the fingertips in circular movements
  • ice application at 10 minute intervals
  • using tools to manipulate the scalp such as
  • slowly loosen hair that has been held in a tight position for an extended period

Stretching and relaxation techniques can also be helpful for scalp sensitivity caused by headaches, muscle aches, and tension.

Prevention of scalp sensitivity

Following standard care routines can prevent many cases of scalp sensitivity. Some things to avoid include:

  • spend a lot of time in the sun
  • chemicals, dyes, or devices that damage hair
  • intense stress

To avoid contagious infections such as lice or fungus, sharing rubber bands and hairbrushes is not recommended, especially among children.


Why is my scalp suddenly so sensitive? ›

A sore scalp can be caused by infected hair follicles, scalp pimples, or tension from certain hairstyles that may pull the hair too tight. Other causes for scalp tenderness include trauma from a head injury, or underlying skin condition like eczema or cellulitis.

What is the treatment for sensitive scalp? ›

Change your shampoo, rinse your hair more carefully, and brush your hair gently. Ibuprofen or similar over-the-counter medication may help relieve inflammation or headaches that cause sensitivity. Certain essential oils, such as lavender or rosemary, can help heal sores that may be causing scalp pain.

What does a sensitive scalp mean? ›

A sensitive scalp is defined by the occurrence of unpleasant sensations (tingling, burning, pain, pruritus) triggered by stimuli that should not cause such sensations. Environmental factors, particularly cosmetics, can be triggering factors.

What diseases cause scalp pain? ›

Scalp pain starts with irritation or inflammation of the skin on your head.
This irritation or inflammation can have several different causes, including:
  • scalp psoriasis.
  • seborrheic dermatitis (dandruff)
  • scalp folliculitis.
  • allergic contact dermatitis.
  • stress.
  • ponytail headache.
  • burning scalp syndrome (scalp dysesthesia)
Oct 1, 2019

When should I be concerned about scalp pain? ›

Any scalp soreness that does not go away within one to two weeks should be further investigated by a medical professional. This includes soreness caused by dermatitis, psoriasis, fibromyalgia, and recurrent tension headaches. Some are chronic conditions that require ongoing management.

Can a brain tumor cause scalp tenderness? ›

In some cases, scalp pain may be a symptom of a serious or life-threatening condition that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting. These conditions include: Brain contusion. Brain tumor.

What should I avoid if I have a sensitive scalp? ›

Hair Dye and Curl Relaxers

Treatments that color, bleach, or straighten your hair are the most likely hair products to irritate your scalp. If you use heat during processing -- to help lighten hair, for example -- the irritation can be worse.

What are the signs of scalp inflammation? ›

Signs of the skin inflammation. The condition can lead to flakiness, redness, dandruff and other scalp buildup — and sometimes it's sign of other conditions. Flaky scalp, itchiness and painful patches can all be signs of scalp dermatitis, an inflammation of the scalp that can have as many causes as it does symptoms.

Is there a cure for scalp dysesthesia? ›

There are many possible treatments for scalp dysesthesias including antidepressants (SSRI, tricyclic antidepressants), oral gabapentin, and oral prebagalin (Lyrica). Topical agents such as topical gabapentin or topical TKAL (ketamine, amitriptyline, lidocaine) can be considered as well.

Why is one part of my scalp sensitive? ›

Why Is My Scalp Tender In One Spot? Many people complain of scalp tenderness which can be linked with various medical conditions. Tension headaches, autoimmune disorders like psoriasis, headaches caused due to migraine can lead to painful, inflamed scalp. Often, rashes, wounds, sunburns too can cause scalp tenderness.

Can anxiety cause a sensitive scalp? ›

Any one or combination of these stress response changes can cause symptoms that affect the scalp, such as burning, itchy, tight, tingling, crawly, pressure, pain, and so on. Acute stress, such as from anxious behavior, is a common cause of scalp symptoms.

Is scalp tenderness a symptom of MS? ›

People with multiple sclerosis (MS) may experience abnormal sensations, including pain, burning, itching, or numbness. For some, these sensations affect the scalp and cause discomfort.

What autoimmune diseases cause scalp tenderness? ›

Giant cell arteritis frequently causes headaches, scalp tenderness, jaw pain and vision problems. Untreated, it can lead to blindness.

How do you treat a sensitive scalp naturally? ›

Home remedies such as coconut oil, an apple cider vinegar rinse, peppermint oil, and medicated dandruff shampoos may help ease an itchy scalp. If the itching doesn't improve or you notice sores on your scalp, a doctor can recommend medical treatments. Scalp pruritus, known as itchy scalp, is a common condition.

What is scalp neuropathy? ›

Scalp dysesthesia is an abnormal sensation of the scalp in the absence of cutaneous disease. It is characterized by a burning and/or itching sensation and can be related to a variety of neurogenic or psychogenic causes.

Why does my head hurt when I touch it on the top? ›

Migraine headaches cause intense, throbbing head pain. These headaches can also make your nerves incredibly sensitive, and even the slightest touch becomes painful. This is called allodynia, which means "other pain." Up to about 80% of people with this condition have allodynia during an attack. Pain is uncomfortable.

What is scalp dysesthesia? ›

In conclusion, scalp dysesthesia is a syndrome characterized primarily by scalp burning or pruritus in the absence of any other unusual physical examination findings and may be associated with cervical spine disease. In this study, 14 of 15 of patients with scalp dysesthesia also had abnormal cervical spine images.

What causes scalp allodynia? ›

These may include cold temperatures, brushing hair or wearing a cotton t-shirt. Allodynia can result from several conditions. The most common causes of allodynia include diabetes, shingles, fibromyalgia and migraine headaches. To relieve allodynia, your provider will treat the condition that's causing pain.

What were your first signs of a brain tumor? ›

General signs and symptoms caused by brain tumors may include:
  • Headache or pressure in the head that is worse in the morning.
  • Headaches that happen more often and seem more severe.
  • Headaches that are sometimes described as tension headaches or migraines.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
Feb 10, 2023

Why does my scalp hair hurt? ›

“The scalp is incredibly rich in blood supply, nerve endings, and oil glands. Additionally, this yeast (pityrosporum) builds up, leading to dandruff. The combination of these factors can cause inflammation, which translates to sensitivity that can feel like your hair hurting.”

Why is the base of my skull tender? ›

Muscle Tension Or Strain

They connect the top two cervical vertebrae with the base of the skull. The suboccipital muscles can become tense and tender due to factors such as eye strain, wearing new eyeglasses, poor ergonomics at a computer workstation, poor posture, or trauma.

How common is sensitive scalp? ›

Scalp tenderness is a common concern, with around 60% of women and 40% of men having sensitive scalps. Reasons for scalp pain can vary greatly. This can be linked to several medical conditions, ranging from dandruff to infection.

What foods cause scalp inflammation? ›

Sugar-rich foods, including those that contain high fructose corn syrup in them. Refined carbohydrates. Excessive alcohol consumption. Vegetable-based oils.

What causes a tender scalp and hair loss? ›

Nervousness, stress and anxiety are associated with the appearance of scalp pain and itchiness, and with subsequent hair loss. Another cause that triggers pain is hyperseborrhea, which leads to seborrheic dermatitis and the appearance of pain, inflammation and skin irritation.

What are autoimmune scalp conditions? ›

Scalp psoriasis (sore-eye-uh-sis) is a long-lasting (chronic) autoimmune disease (caused by your own immune system) that causes your skin cells to reproduce too quickly. It creates thick, discolored patches of skin (plaques) on your scalp and other areas around your scalp. These areas may include: Your hairline.

Why does my scalp feel weird? ›

A tingling sensation, or paresthesia, in the scalp is often the result of issues with the nerves, and some people experience nerve-related symptoms due to anxiety or stress. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, panic attacks can cause paresthesia.

What is a natural anti-inflammatory for scalp? ›

Oatmeal Helps Fight Inflammation

Mix uncooked oatmeal with water, adding a few drops of olive oil. Smooth the paste on your scalp and leave it on for at least 10 minutes. Rinse, shampoo, then condition.

What does nerve damage on the scalp feel like? ›

Occipital Neuralgia is a condition in which the occipital nerves, the nerves that run through the scalp, are injured or inflamed. This causes headaches that feel like severe piercing, throbbing or shock-like pain in the upper neck, back of the head or behind the ears.

What are the symptoms of nerve damage on scalp? ›

  • Aching, burning, and throbbing pain that typically starts at the base of the head and goes to the scalp.
  • Pain on one or both sides of the head.
  • Pain behind the eye.
  • Sensitivity to light.
  • Tender scalp.
  • Pain when you move your neck.
Nov 12, 2022

What does scalp dysesthesia feel like? ›

Scalp dysesthesia (burning scalp syndrome) is characterized by abnormal sensations of the scalp such as burning, tingling, and pruritus in the absence of objective skin findings. 1 Several underlying brain disorders present with dysesthesia, most commonly as neuropathic itch.

Can hormones affect scalp? ›

The hair growth cycles are partially controlled by hormones and the extent to which your hair follicles respond to hormones is dependent on a number of factors, including genetics. These hormones can affect sebum production and cell turnover, which can affect how the scalp looks and feels.

Can hormones and stress cause scalp sensitivity? ›

Your scalp can be so affected by hormonal fluctuations that stress causes. Specifically, stress spikes cortisol (aka stress hormone) levels, which can increase sebum (oil) production on your scalp. Stress hormones can also disrupt the skin's barrier function, and trigger skin irritation and inflammation.

Can fibromyalgia cause tender scalp? ›

Scalp Dysesthesia in Fibromyalgia

Individuals with fibromyalgia commonly experience a variety of scalp symptoms including itching, burning, pain, throbbing, shooting pains. For some it hurts to lay down on a pillow, brush the hair or even shampoo the scalp.

What are subtle signs of MS? ›

There are lots of symptoms that MS can cause, but not everyone will experience all of them.
  • fatigue.
  • numbness and tingling.
  • loss of balance and dizziness.
  • stiffness or spasms.
  • tremor.
  • pain.
  • bladder problems.
  • bowel trouble.

How can I check myself for MS? ›

Some of the most common signs of MS are:
  1. numbness, pain, or tingling.
  2. vision issues such as blurred vision, trouble seeing, or floaters.
  3. weakness.
  4. issues with walking or balance.
  5. bladder or bowel incontinence.
  6. unexplained sexual dysfunction.
  7. mood changes.
  8. brain fog.
Apr 28, 2022

What is lupus of the scalp? ›

Discoid lupus causes round, coin-shaped lesions (sores). The sores most commonly develop on your scalp and face, but they may show up on other parts of your body. Discoid lesions typically do not hurt or itch. They may be scaly, thick or red.

Does lupus cause scalp pain? ›

You may experience symptoms including pain, itching and burning. In some cases, you may not experience any symptoms. Most often, symptoms will develop on your face, ears or scalp. However, you can develop symptoms on other parts of your body too.

Is scalp pain a symptom of lupus? ›

Sores or red patches on the skin

They often appear on the scalp or face and can cause permanent scarring. They may be red and scaly, but they do not cause pain or itching.

How do you moisturize a sensitive scalp? ›

How to moisturise your scalp
  1. Moisturising shampoo.
  2. Exfoliating scalp masks.
  3. Post-shower hair tonic.
  4. Coconut oil.
  5. Essential oils like tea tree and jojoba.
  6. Aloe vera gel or aloe vera-based products.
  7. Home remedies such as witch hazel or apple cider vinegar.

What is the best oil for scalp inflammation? ›

Sweet Almond Oil | Almond oil is one of the best oils in skin and hair care. Containing high levels of vitamin E and essential nutrients for health, its antibacterial qualities help reduce inflammation and calm irritation so perfect to use to treat conditions such as dandruff or psoriasis of the scalp.

Why does my head hurt to touch in one spot? ›

Migraine headaches cause intense, throbbing head pain. These headaches can also make your nerves incredibly sensitive, and even the slightest touch becomes painful. This is called allodynia, which means "other pain." Up to about 80% of people with this condition have allodynia during an attack. Pain is uncomfortable.

What autoimmune diseases cause scalp pain? ›

Giant cell arteritis frequently causes headaches, scalp tenderness, jaw pain and vision problems. Untreated, it can lead to blindness.

Why does part of my scalp feel weird? ›

A tingling sensation, or paresthesia, in the scalp is often the result of issues with the nerves, and some people experience nerve-related symptoms due to anxiety or stress. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, panic attacks can cause paresthesia.

Why is it when I press on my head it hurts? ›

Common symptoms of tension headaches include: pain on both sides of your head, face or neck. feeling like something is pressing on your head or being tightened around it. the affected area may feel tender and your head may hurt more when touched.

What does it mean when you press your head and it hurts? ›

The most common type of headache is a tension headache (also called a muscle-contraction headache). Tension headaches happen when stressed-out head or neck muscles squeeze too hard. This causes pain often described as: feeling as though someone is pressing or squeezing on the front, back, or both sides of the head.

What is a stressed scalp? ›

"Stress raises levels of androgens (male hormones) in our body,” Dr Chan explains. “This causes our scalp to become oilier, which dandruff-causing yeast love to feed on (hence the itching)."


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