Why scalp hurts when moving hair: Uncovering the symptoms, Causes, and treatments

Your scalp is a sensitive and vital body part, housing thousands of hair follicles and serving as a protective barrier for your skull. While we often take it for granted, we become acutely aware of its existence when discomfort strikes. If you’ve ever experienced scalp pain that intensifies when you move your hair, you know how frustrating and distracting it can be. This phenomenon can have various causes, from benign issues like tension and hair styling choices to more complex underlying medical conditions.

If you ever feel this kind of pain, we will be here to explain the reasons, symptoms, medications, and home remedies to relieve undemanding pain.

What are the symptoms of scalp pain?

Scalp pain can manifest in various ways, and its symptoms can vary depending on the underlying cause. Here are some common symptoms associated with scalp pain:

  • The scalp feels tender even with a minor touch.
  • Itching and scratching.
  • Stinging sensation.
  • Inflammation in the painful area.
  • Constant headaches.
  • Pain when combing your hair through.
  • Scalp discharge (in case of intense infection).
  • White or yellow scales on the scalp
  • Prickling and tingling


What causes scalp pain even when moving the hair?

A scalp pain is like a drum constantly beating under your hair, and with every tilt of your head, pain is increasing, and you think that tiny needles are stuck in your head. But have you noticed the reasons and causes behind scalp pain? The causes include:

Medical Causes

A variety of medical conditions and issues can cause scalp pain. It’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis if you experience persistent or severe scalp pain. Here are some medical conditions and issues that can lead to scalp pain:

  • H4:  Tension Headaches:Tension headaches can cause pain that radiates to the scalp, often described as a tight band around the head.
  • Migraines:Some individuals experience scalp tenderness or pain during a migraine episode.
  • Trigeminal Neuralgia:This condition affects the trigeminal nerve and can cause severe, stabbing pain in the scalp and face.
  • Scalp Infections:Bacterial, viral, or fungal infections of the scalp can lead to pain, redness, and swelling. Cellulitis is a bacterial skin infection that can occur on the scalp. It causes scalp pain by infecting the deeper layers of skin and tissues, leading to redness, swelling, tenderness, and localized pain. As the infection progresses, the affected area becomes increasingly sensitive and painful, often requiring medical treatment with antibiotics to resolve. Pimple/ comedone/ zits is an inner skin infection that inflames and tightens the skin to create scalp pain.
  • Dermatitis:Conditions like seborrheic dermatitis or contact dermatitis can cause itching, redness, and pain on the scalp. These itchy skin rashes occur between 30-60, which may be inherited.
  • Scalp Psoriasis:Psoriasis can affect the scalp, leading to red, scaly patches and discomfort.
  • Scalp Folliculitis:This is an inflammation of the hair follicles that can result in soreness and pain on the scalp. The primary treatment to deal with it is to use Anthralin or Tazarotene acid and products that carry calcipotriene or salicylic acid.

Tip: Shave your head confidently with a clean razor or use mild antihistamines for soothing effects.

  • Head Injuries:Trauma to the head, such as a concussion or scalp laceration, can cause scalp pain.
  • Shingles (Herpes Zoster):Shingles, or Herpes Zoster, can cause scalp pain when the varicella-zoster virus, which remains dormant after a previous bout of chickenpox, reactivates and travels along specific nerve pathways, often referred to as dermatomes. If the reactivated virus affects nerves that supply the scalp or the areas around it, it can lead to the development of a painful rash and intense neuropathic pain characterized by sensations such as burning, stabbing, or shooting pains.
  • Muscle Tension:Muscle tension in the neck and upper back can lead to scalp pain through referred pain. When neck and upper back muscles become tight or strained, they can irritate nearby nerves. These irritated nerves may transmit pain signals to other body areas, including the scalp. This referred pain often manifests as a dull, aching sensation that can be felt across the scalp. Poor posture, stress, excessive computer or phone use, and physical activities that strain the neck and upper back muscles are common contributors to this type of muscle tension, resulting in discomfort and pain radiating to the scalp.
  • Neck Problems:Issues with the cervical spine, such as herniated discs or cervical radiculopathy, can cause referred pain to the scalp.
  • Autoimmune Disorders:Some autoimmune conditions, like lupus, can lead to scalp pain and inflammation. Temporal arteritis, also known as giant cell arteritis, is an inflammatory condition that affects the blood vessels, including those in the scalp. It causes scalp pain through inflammation of the temporal arteries, which run along the sides of the head. This inflammation leads to a throbbing, severe headache, primarily in the temple area, often accompanied by scalp tenderness, making it painful to touch or even comb the hair.
  • Allergies: Allergic reactions to hair products, including shampoos or dyes, can result in scalp discomfort.
  • Mental Health Issues:Stress, anxiety, and depression can manifest physical symptoms, including scalp pain or tension.
  • Vascular Conditions:Rarely, vascular issues such as temporal arteritis can cause scalp pain due to inflammation of the arteries.
  • Traction Alopecia: Hair loss due to wearing tight hairstyles at the end in receding hairline and alopecia, but wearing a weave or extension could soothe your scalp tension and make you attractive. Alopecia results in bald spots that may react against sun rays and loss of confidence, so bring forth your confidence level by knowing how to hide bald spots effectively. (https://wepickbestforyou.com/how-to-hide-your-bald-spots/)

Environmental causes

Scalp pain can also be caused or exacerbated by environmental factors. These factors can lead to discomfort or irritation on the scalp. Here are some environmental causes of scalp pain:

  • Sun Exposure:Prolonged exposure to the sun without adequate protection can lead to sunburn on the scalp, causing pain, blisters, redness, and peeling.
  • Cold Weather:Freezing temperatures, especially with dry air, can lead to scalp dryness and discomfort.
  • Harsh Weather Conditions: Wind, rain, and snow can irritate the scalp and make it feel sore or painful.
  • Chemical Exposure:Exposure to harsh chemicals, such as those found in hair dyes, bleaches, or certain hair products, can lead to scalp irritation and pain.
  • Hard Water:High mineral content, often called “hard water,” can leave deposits on the scalp, potentially causing itchiness and discomfort. Chlorine and other pool chemicals can irritate the scalp, leading to dryness and itchiness.
  • Allergens:Allergens in the environment, such as pollen, dust, or pet dander, can lead to allergic reactions on the scalp, resulting in itchiness and pain.
  • Environmental Pollutants: Air pollution, including smog or particulate matter, can contribute to scalp irritation and discomfort.
  • Excessive Sweating:Profuse sweating, especially in hot and humid conditions, can cause scalp irritation and discomfort.
  • Hats and Headgear: Wearing tight or ill-fitting hats, helmets, or headgear for extended periods can pressure the scalp, leading to soreness.
  • Hair Extensions or Weaves:(https://wepickbestforyou.com/wigs-vs-weaves-decoding-the-pros-and-cons/)
  • Improperly installed or maintained hair extensions, wigs, and weaves can pull on the scalp and cause pain.
  • Hair Styles:Certain tight hairstyles, such as braids, cornrows, or ponytails, can exert tension on the scalp and result in discomfort. Moreover, if you resist changing your hairdo for several months, it creates a lot of friction on the scalp, and you may get hurt.

How to deal with scalp pain? Helpful tips

  • Identify the Underlying Cause:Determine if an underlying medical condition or environmental factor contributes to the scalp pain. Consult a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis. Use Aspirin or Ibuprofen for intense headache and migraine.
  • Maintain Good Hygiene:Clean your scalp by washing your hair regularly with a gentle, sulfate-free shampoo.

Tips: Cleanse the affected area with 2% zinc products.

Wash your hair 2 or 3 times a week, not much more.

  • Use Lukewarm Water: Avoid using hot water when washing your hair, as it can further irritate the scalp. Opting for lukewarm water insteador cold water in any way is the best solution.
  • Choose a Mild Shampoo: Use a mild, hypoallergenic shampoo suitable for your scalp type. Avoid products with harsh chemicals or fragrances, and forbid yourself to apply adhesive products on your scalp.
  • Moisturize Your Scalp:Apply a moisturizing conditioner or scalp oil to prevent dryness and soothe irritation.

Tip: Always make oiling at night and not more than 5 hours; otherwise, dirt or product buildup can irritate your skin.

Gently massage your scalp with your fingertips while shampooing to improve blood circulation and relieve tension.

  • Stay Hydrated:Proper hydration, including your scalp, is essential for overall skin health. Drink an adequate amount of water daily.
  • Avoid Tight Hairstyles:Opt for loose hairstyles that do not put excessive tension on your scalp. Avoid tight braids, ponytails, or extensions.
  • Protect Your Scalp from the Sun: Wear a wide-brimmed hat or use sunscreen on your scalp when exposed to sunlight for an extended period.
  • Use a Humidifier:If you live in a dry climate, consider using a humidifier to add moisture to the air, which can prevent scalp dryness.
  • Allergen Management:Identify and avoid environmental allergens, such as pollen, dust, or pet dander. Stop using products that may make your skin allergic until you recover.
  • Reduce Stress:Practice stress-reduction techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or yoga to alleviate tension that can contribute to scalp pain.
  • Topical Pain Relief: Some over-the-counter topical creams or ointments can temporarily relieve scalp pain. Consult with a pharmacist or healthcare provider for recommendations.
  • Anti-Inflammatory Foods:Incorporate anti-inflammatory foods into your diet, such as omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish and flaxseed) and antioxidants (found in fruits and vegetables).
  • Avoid Heat Styling:Limit heat-styling tools like hairdryers and straighteners, as excessive heat can dry out the scalp. Never try to pull and scratch the hair while combing.
  • Pillowcase Change: Use a clean and soft pillowcase made of natural fibers, like cotton or silk, and change it regularly to prevent irritation.

Home remedies to get relief from scalp pain?

My scalp gets hurt whenever I move my hair. What to do next? Home remedies can sometimes relieve scalp pain, especially when the pain is mild and not due to a severe underlying medical condition. Here are some home remedies you can try to reduce scalp pain:

  • Warm Compress: Apply a warm, moist cloth or towel to your scalp for 15-20 minutes. This can help relax tense muscles and relieve pain.A cold compress can also provide relief, especially if your scalp pain is due to inflammation.
  • Tea Tree Oil:Dilute a few drops of tea tree oil in a carrier oil (like coconut oil) and gently massage it into your scalp. Tea tree oil has antimicrobial properties and can help with scalp conditions that may cause pain.
  • Aloe Vera: Apply pure aloe Vera gel to your scalp and leave it on for 15-20 minutes before rinsing. Aloe Vera has soothing and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Lavender Oil: Mix a few drops of essential oil with a carrier oil and massage it into your scalp. Lavender oil can help relax muscles and reduce tension.Peppermint oil also has a cooling effect that can help ease scalp pain.
  • Ginger: Apply ginger juice to your scalp and leave it on for 15-20 minutes. Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties and can reduce pain.
  • Chamomile Tea:Brew chamomile tea, let it cool, and use it as a rinse for your scalp. It contains antioxidants, cooling agents, and anti-inflammatory properties that quickly soothe your scalp.

When to see a doctor? Very alarming conditions of scalp pain

If you experience any of the following disturbing conditions or symptoms related to scalp pain, it’s crucial to seek immediate medical attention:

  • Severe and Sudden Pain:If you suddenly experience intense, painful, and unexplained scalp pain that is out of the ordinary for you, consult a healthcare provider promptly.
  • Head Injury:If your scalp pain results from a head injury, even if it seems minor, you should see a doctor. Head injuries can have serious consequences, and a medical evaluation is essential.
  • Fever and Infection:If you suspect an infection on your scalp, accompanied by symptoms like fever, redness, warmth, pus discharge, or increasing pain, see a doctor as soon as possible.
  • Rash or Lesions:If you notice any unusual scalp rashes, lesions, or sores along with pain, significantly if they are not improving or getting worse, seek medical attention.
  • Neurological Symptoms:If you experience additional neurological symptoms alongside scalp pain, such as severe headaches, visual disturbances, numbness, weakness, or changes in consciousness, this may indicate a more serious underlying condition and should be evaluated urgently.
  • Hair Loss:If your scalp pain is associated with sudden or unexplained hair loss, it’s essential to consult a healthcare provider to determine the cause.
  • History of Cancer or Immune Compromised:If you have an account of cancer or a compromised immune system due to a medical condition or medications, consult your healthcare provider for any persistent scalp pain, as you may be at a higher risk for certain conditions.
  • Persistent Pain: If your scalp pain persists for an extended period (weeks or months) and does not improve with home remedies or over-the-counter treatments, or if it worsens over time, seek medical evaluation.


What causes scalp pain when I move my hair?

Scalp pain can have various causes, including tension, skin conditions, infections, allergies, and more. Identifying the underlying cause is essential for effective treatment.

Is scalp pain a sign of a severe medical condition?

Scalp pain can sometimes be associated with severe medical conditions, so it’s essential to consult a healthcare provider for a proper evaluation to rule out any underlying issues.

How can I relieve scalp pain at home?

Home remedies can provide relief for mild scalp pain. These may include warm compresses, gentle massage, using soft shampoos, and avoiding tight hairstyles. However, the choice of remedy should be based on the specific cause of your scalp pain.

When should I see a doctor about my scalp pain?

It’s advisable to consult a healthcare professional if your scalp pain is severe, persistent, or accompanied by other concerning symptoms such as hair loss, skin changes, or discharge.

Can stress or anxiety cause scalp pain?

Stress and anxiety can contribute to muscle tension, which may lead to scalp pain. Managing stress through relaxation techniques and stress reduction strategies can be helpful.

Are there specific scalp conditions that cause pain when moving the hair?

Several scalp conditions can lead to pain when moving the hair, including scalp psoriasis, folliculitis, and infections like shingles.

What can I do to prevent scalp pain in the future?

Preventing scalp pain often depends on the underlying cause. Practicing good hair and scalp hygiene, avoiding tight hairstyles, protecting your scalp from environmental factors, and managing stress can help reduce the risk of future discomfort.

Making it short

In conclusion, experiencing scalp pain when moving one’s hair can be both discomforting and concerning. While causes may range from benign issues like muscle tension to more complex underlying conditions, seeking timely medical advice is essential for proper diagnosis and tailored treatment. Whether through home remedies or professional guidance, finding relief is possible, ensuring a return to a pain-free, comfortable scalp and an improved quality of life.