Tender Scalp

The Various Causes Of A Tender Scalp


Brain surgery is one cause of experiencing a tender scalp, since the scalp tends to be pulled back and forth during the course of the surgery. The pain and tenderness caused by that pulling and stretching will eventually go away, but in this particular case at least the underlying cause of the tenderness is known.


The majority of us have never had to contend with brain surgery, and hopefully never will, so if our scalp is tender to the touch, sore, or just plain painful, it would be for some other reason. That reason may exist inside of the head or the body, on or just under the surface of the skin, or have something to do with the hair.

The Hair As A Cause


Let’s first look at how the hair can cause the scalp to be tender or sore, because if it is indeed the hair that’s to blame, something can usually be done about it. Long hair that is particularly heavy will sometimes cause the scalp to become tender due to the constant pulling against the skin and against the hair follicles. Hair that is too tight can also make the scalp sore or tender. There are those whose favorite hairstyle is to have the hair pulled back severely, and pulled even more by wrapping it in a tight bun. Even a pony tail, if it pulls too tight, can cause pain in the scalp. Once these causes are recognized, finding the cure is usually rather simple, though not always easy to accept. The remedy is either to choose a different hairstyle, or get a haircut.


Brushing The Hair


Another way in which the hair can cause tenderness isn’t really the fault of the hair, but lies in the means by which the hair is groomed. For some of us, passing a comb through our hair or rearranging a curl or two is enough. For others, especially those who are very proud of their hair, whether it is short or long, brushing it can almost become an obsession. We are sometimes of the opinion that the more often and more vigorously we brush our hair, the healthier and sleeker it will be. Vigorous brushing may be good for the hair, but too much of it can wreak havoc with the scalp. If you must brush your hair, be somewhat gentle. Your scalp will thank you for it.

Skin Disorders


Most causes of tender scalp have something to do with the skin, and not the hair. Dry skin often leads to tender skin, and if the scalp becomes too dry, and particularly if it begins to itch, repeated rubbing or scratching can cause it to become sore or tender. The itching caused by psoriasis is, next to dry skin, one of the leading causes of tenderness in the scalp. There are also instances where scalp tenderness is the result of an allergy. When the tenderness is due to an irritant that has come into direct contact with the skin, the condition is called irritant contact dermatitis. When the tenderness comes from an allergic reaction within the body, the condition is called allergic contact dermatitis. In the former case, it is the skin that reacts to the allergen, while in the later case it is the immune system that reacts.


Other causes of a tender scalp include sunburn, acne, yeast infections, a fungal infection, which is more often than not a ringworm infection, and harsh soaps or shampoos.


Treating A Tender Scalp


How tenderness of the scalp is treated is of course dependent upon the cause. In some instances, the tenderness is quite temporary. In the case of sunburn for example, a soothing lotion may help initially, but as the burn subsides and the skin heals, the tenderness will go away. In the case of contact dermatitis, the best solution is to find out what the skin is sensitive to, and try to avoid it. That can sometimes be easy, and at other times be quite difficult.

In other instances, such as where psoriasis or acne is a factor, a dermatologist may be able to prescribe helpful medication, whereas in the case of an allergy, the services of an immunologist may be needed. There are prescription shampoos that dermatologists sometimes prescribe that are known to be quite effective, and are not terribly expensive.


It’s always possible that a tender scalp can be one of the symptoms of a systemic disease, or some disease that is not a disease of the skin. In such cases, the disease itself will sometimes have to be cured before the tenderness goes away, although treating the tenderness as a symptom will often   provide a measure of relief.


Hair Transplants


Having started with surgery as a possible cause of scalp tenderness, we might as well finish on that same note, which in this case happens to be a cosmetic surgery. The surgery in question is a hair transplant. When talk turns to the subject of hair transplants, there is seldom much said with respect to recovery time. Although we are not talking about major surgery, as is the case with brain surgery, there is still healing to be done, and while the scalp is in the process of healing, which may take a week or two, it can be quite tender to the touch.




The primary causes of a tender scalp could be summed up as being surgery, hairstyles and hair maintenance, dry skin, skin disorders, and other disorders or diseases.