Scalp pain giving a new meaning to the word headache?

I get it; scalp tenderness is a b*^@#. And the worst part? Often you don't even know why your scalp is sore in the first place!

But don't you worry your hurting head. There are plenty of reasons for your scalp pain.

In this article we cover:

  • The most common causes for an itchy or burning scalp.
  • And home remedies for these issues.

Let's dive in...

Why is my scalp sore?

Scalp pain? Burning? And itching?

These symptoms can have many causes.


  • Infections.
  • Sun damage.
  • Allergic reactions.
  • Chronic skin conditions.
  • Scalp bacteria.

Causes for scalp irritation can range from minor to severe.

So, I must mention:

If you have scalp pain that is beyond a bearable level, or persistent for more than a couple of weeks, you may want to seek some medical help.

But for all other cases of itchy or burning scalp...

Here are the top 5 most common reasons your scalp is sore.

Read: 5 Harmful or Toxic Ingredients in Shampoo

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1. Inflammation

Sore Scalp? This is probably the culprit.

What is scalp inflammation?

Known as folliculitis, scalp inflammation occurs when the hair follicles become inflamed or irritated.

What Causes Scalp inflammation?

Harmful bacteria, yeast, ingrown hairs, product or oil build up and other nasties can block hair follicles, causing scalp inflammation.

Infections and underlying health issues can also be at play.

Why is scalp inflammation bad?

As well as causing some serious scalp pain, inflammation can cause hair breakage and dehydration too.

How to fix scalp inflammation?

If you have chronic scalp inflammation, seeking medical attention is advised.


If you have a minimal case, there are several things you can do the soothe your sore scalp.

Here are five ways to reduce scalp inflammation:

  1. Apply aloe vera gel directly to the scalp (non-petroleum based gel).
  2. Use a scalp scrub weekly to prevent follicle-clogging.
  3. Use an apple Cider Vinegar Rinse in the shower.
  4. Use a coconut oil scalp mask.

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2. Dehydration

Dehydrated hair can cause all kinds of problems.

And did you know:

It could also be the reason for your scalp pain?

How does dehydration cause a sore scalp?

When your hair and scalp are dry, your skin cracks and becomes flaky.

This can be seriously painful and irritating.

A dry scalp can even cause inflammation.

Which is another massive headache, as mentioned above.

How to hydrate your scalp?

If you're suffering from a thirsty head, there are a few things you can do to help.

  1. Moisturising shampoo.
  2. Hydrating hair masks.
  3. Drinking more water.
  4. Cutting down on heat styling.
  5. Avoiding sun damage.

Read: How To Hydrate Your Hair By Type

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3. Allergies

Scalp care is the new hair care.

And a big part of this is:

Using the right products and cutting down on things that could be causing you harm.

Allergies are a common cause of scalp irritation and can have some seriously painful symptoms.

Common scalp allergies:

The most common allergic reactions of the scalp are eczema and atopic dermatitis.

You could also be allergic to toxic ingredients and chemicals in hair care products.

If you're experiencing scalp pain, you should try to figure out what is causing the reaction.

One way to do this is:

By stripping your hair care routine back and experimenting with different products for a few weeks at a time.

I.e. trial and elimination.

Think of it like the elimination diet.

You remove one ingredient/process every week, until suddenly you have no more symptoms.

And you discover which item was giving you problems by removing items slowly (one item per week, etc.).

Sometimes certain products can cause issues in combination.

So keep this in mind.

And, as a general rule:

Using natural ingredients is best for your scalp and a great way to minimise allergic reactions and irritation.

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4. Infection

There might be a more serious cause for your scalp soreness in the form of an infection.

This is the most common cause of burning sensations in the scalp and can be very painful.


Infections begin in the hair follicle. Which causes inflammation and sensitivity.


Did you know scalp infections also often cause neck and back pain?

Common scalp infections?

Folliculitis, furunculosis, and carbunculosis are the most common scalp infections.

Bacteria and environmental nasties can also cause fungal infections such as tinea capitis and tinea versicolor.

If you suspect you might have a scalp infection, you might seek medical attention.


5. Sunburn

Did you know sunburn can cause scalp pain?


Your scalp gets the same burning and itchy feeling your skin gets from too much sun.


Side note:

This can also cause dry hair!

How to protect your scalp from the sun?

The easiest way to avoid a sunburned scalp is to cut down on sun exposure.

But that doesn't mean you have to stay inside 24/7.

It just means the old slip, slop, slap!

Slip-on a hat and slop, slap on some sunscreen for your scalp!

Yes, there is such a thing as scalp sunscreen!

Aftercare is also super important.

Make sure to rehydrate your sunburn scalp using some of the methods mentioned above.

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