This Is Why Your Hair Sometimes Feels Like It Hurts & What to Do About It

woman covering her face with hair

We've all had those weeks so busy that washing and styling your hair just isn't going to make the agenda's cut. But as you continue to just throw you hair up in a topknot or ponytail, sometimes it begins to ache. With our beloved locks so close to our precious brain, this can feel pretty scary. So what gives? Isn't hair technically dead once it leaves the scalp?


The problem comes from having an inflamed scalp, according to Allure. The inflamed blood vessels in the scalp then flood the nerves in the hair follicles, which is what hurts. "The pain in the follicle is indistinguishable from the strand, so it truly feels like your hair is hurting," Debra Jaliman, a dermatologist in New York City, told Allure.

The bad news is that an inflamed scalp can come from a variety of causes, but the good news is that they're solvable.

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One culprit that especially affects those who tend to have oilier scalps is not washing your hair enough. This can directly result in inflammation, or cause you to scratch your scalp enough to release cytokines, or chemicals that cause inflammation. 

Certain hairstyles can also aggravate inflammation, especially if they involve pulling your hair back tightly. (Sorry, topknot fans.) 

But maybe you just washed your hair, left it down, and it's still hurting. Your leave-in hair products, such as dry shampoos or hairsprays, probably have chemicals that irritate your scalp, or at least trap oil and gunk there. 

Alright, so there goes our entire hair routine, right? Not exactly. All you need to do is a little adjusting. First off, wash your hair more -- but be careful to not cause the opposite problem and dry out your scalp, so look into gentle cleansers. Then, cut back on suffocating hair products and hair dye jobs. (If you can't forgo a touch-up then talk to your dermatologist, who might prescribe you topical steroids.) Consider working a weekly clarifying shampoo session into your beauty routine, since it'll help get rid of scalp oil and product build-up. 

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Most importantly, avoid wearing tight hairstyles for very long (and definitely not to sleep!), and not at all if your scalp does begin to hurt. When you do put your hair up, reach for those softer cloth hair ties instead of elastics. These yanking hairstyles might also cause eventual hair loss, also known as traction alopecia. This is when follicles are damaged from being pulled back all the time, and results in gradual balding.

hair tie

It's important to remember not to take our luscious locks for granted, and to treat them with tender love and care. We all deserve great hair, don't we?

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