side profile of brunette woman with head leaning back and grabbing her hair

Why Does My Scalp Hurt?

Do you experience scalp pain or tenderness? Learn more about the causes, how it can be treated and get questions such as "why does my scalp hurt?" answered.

If you've ever found yourself asking “Why does my scalp hurt?” after experiencing scalp pain or discomfort then you’ve come to the right place. Scalp pain can be triggered by a range of things including the strain of tight hairstyles, red and sore skin or something as common as dry scalp skin.1

Keep reading as we delve into the common symptoms and causes of scalp pain, as well as some helpful tips and treatments from Nioxin to help you with a less tender scalp. Your journey to understanding and addressing scalp pain begins here.


Effectively treating scalp pain relies on understanding your symptoms so that you can find the right treatment to target the pain.

Scalp pain is a common issue stemming from factors like scalp tension, sunburn, and skin conditions. Understanding these causes is important for effective prevention and treatments.

While a tender scalp can be normal, it's important to consider that underlying medical conditions could also be contributing to your symptoms.

Causes of Scalp Pain

Dry Scalp - Having a regularly dry and flaky scalp can make you prone to scalp tenderness and sensitive skin. Common symptoms of this are an itchy, tight or painful scalp. 1

Tension Headache – These are a common type of headache that you can feel either behind the eyes, in the neck area and/or around the head that can cause scalp tenderness and sensitivity.2

Hairstyles – If you ask yourself “why does my scalp hurt after wearing a ponytail?” this is likely because your ponytail is too tight and putting more pressure than needed on your scalp, causing pain. This is also common with other tight hairstyles such as braids and extensions.2,3

Skin Disorders – You may be experiencing an itchy rash, blisters or flaking skin that are causing you pain on your scalp. These can be caused by a reaction to hair products, soaps and even water.1

Sunburn – Sun exposure can lead to sunburn not just on your skin but also on your scalp. This resembles the sunburn that you may have experienced on your body, causing pain.3

Infections – There are infections of hair follicles that can cause sensitivity or tenderness of the scalp. These infections include folliculitis, furunculosis, and carbunculosis which affect the back of the neck and scalp.1

Treatments for Scalp Pain

Depending on the symptoms that you’re experiencing, there are several ways to treat scalp pain long-term.

Home Remedies

To treat scalp pain caused by a tension headache, there are some home remedies that you can try. Using a hot or cold compress on your scalp can help you to relieve any pain caused by a tension headache. There are also relaxation techniques that you can do such as meditation, listening to soothing music and deep breathing to reduce stress that may be causing tension headaches.2

Generally, sunburn on the scalp can be treated at home with either a cool shower or cold compress. In more serious cases, sunburn on the scalp can lead to skin peeling where you may lose some hair but this will grow back once the area heals.2

Useful Products

If you notice that your hair is looking visibly thinner after sunburn on the scalp, Nioxin System Kits are specially formulated three-step treatments that help promote hair growth for thicker, fuller-looking hair. We have options suitable for all hair types including natural and colored hair.2

Scalp pain caused by certain hair styles and extensions are also common. Unfortunately, the easiest way to get rid of the pain is to take down the style to relieve the pressure on your scalp. You can opt for more lightweight extensions or only wear tight hair styles for short periods of time.2To combat scalp tenderness when doing tight hairstyles, Nioxin offers a range of styling products with fragile and delicate hair in mind, including hairsprays and hair gels.

Medical Guidance

If you are experiencing severe sunburn that you feel can’t be treated at home with a cool, wet compress or moisturizing cream, please seek medical advice for a more effective treatment.2

As well as this, if you are showing symptoms of a skin infection on your scalp such as scalp irritation or painful pus-filled bumps then you should contact a medical professional. Depending on the infection, you can receive treatment including tablets and topical antibiotics.2

If your scalp pain is persistent, it’s important to find out what is causing it and take steps to find a suitable treatment. Nioxin’s range of products are essential to use for gentle, soothing hair and scalp care while promoting hair growth and a healthy scalp. Say goodbye to scalp discomfort and hello to a revitalized, comfortable foundation for your beautiful locks with Nioxin.


Shop The Story

View all