A sore scalp can be a frustrating and uncomfortable experience, and it's often linked to stress.
Stress can cause physical symptoms, and one of the most common ones is a sore scalp. If you have a sore scalp, you may experience tenderness, pain, itching or even hair loss.
Here's what you need to know about the link between stress and a sore scalp, and how to find relief.
Why does my scalp feel sore?
Stress-related scalp pain is a common occurrence for many people. It can be caused by many factors, including anxiety and depression, but one thing is certain: stress does play a role in this type of headache.
The science behind stress-related scalp pain is actually quite interesting. Stress affects the body in many ways, including the hair follicles. The hormone cortisol plays an important role in regulating blood flow to the scalp during times of high stress or anxiety.
When cortisol levels are high enough to cause inflammation around these tiny organs (which are responsible for producing new hairs), they become inflamed.
That leads to tenderness around those areas where you're losing hair due to excessive pulling or tugging at it while washing your face or brushing out tangles after showering (or even just running fingers through wet strands).
How to find relief for a sore scalp caused by stress
1) Manage stress
The best way to find relief for a sore scalp caused by stress is to manage the stress itself.
There are many ways to manage stress, including exercise, meditation, deep breathing and yoga. Experiment with a few of these techniques to see which works best for you.
2) Use a gentle shampoo
If your scalp is sore, it's important to use a gentle shampoo that won't irritate your skin. Choose hair products that are free of harsh chemicals, colors and fragrances.
3) Avoid heat styling
Heat styling tools like hair dryers, flat irons and curling irons can exacerbate a sore scalp. Give your hair a break by air-drying or using low heat on your styling tools.
4) Use a scalp massage
Massaging the scalp can help relieve tension and soreness. You can massage your scalp with your fingers or a scalp massager.
5) Apply a soothing scalp treatment
There are many scalp treatments available that can help soothe and calm a sore scalp. Look for treatments that contain ingredients like tea tree oil, aloe vera and chamomile.
6) Consult a dermatologist
If your sore scalp persists or is accompanied by hair loss, it's important to consult a dermatologist. They can diagnose and treat any underlying scalp conditions that may be causing your soreness.
Common treatments for stress-related sore scalp
You can treat your stress-related sore scalp with a variety of over-the-counter treatments. These include:
Shampoos and conditioners that contain menthol, peppermint oil or eucalyptus oil. The scent of these ingredients may help relieve pain by stimulating nerves in the scalp that control blood flow to the area.
Antihistamines like diphenhydramine (Benadryl) or doxylamine succinate (Unisom). These medications block histamine receptors in the body and may help reduce inflammation from allergic reactions or other causes. You should always talk with your doctor before taking any new medication, though.
While a sore scalp can be a frustrating and uncomfortable experience, it's often linked to stress.
Managing stress, using gentle hair care products, avoiding heat styling, massaging the scalp and using soothing scalp treatments can help relieve soreness and discomfort. If the symptoms persist or are accompanied by hair loss, it's important to consult a dermatologist.