Why does the Scalp Hurt when Hair is Dirty

By Mary Smith. Updated: January 16, 2017
Why does the Scalp Hurt when Hair is Dirty

Dirty hair can look unsightly, flat and greasy, but it can also be painful. Washing the hair too much can be dangerous as it can lead to dryness and irritation, but not washing it with periodicity can also lead to problems of grease and dandruff. Sometimes, when hair is dirty, it is possible to experience pain on the scalp, which can be caused by different conditions. Read on this article and find out why the scalp hurts when hair is dirty.

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Dirty hair that hurts because of pressure

Usually, when we have dirty hair we tend to put it up on a ponytail or a bun. When putting the hair up, the roots are under a lot of pressure, which can cause pain on the scalp. Pulling the hair can create traction on the scalp that can irritate the hair follicles, causing the pain. This pain on the scalp can even turn into other slightly more serious problems, such as headaches or neck pain. Dirty hair that hurts because of pressure can easily be treated: just put your hair down and massage the roots gently. Then wash the hair and the pain will instantly disappear.

Why does the Scalp Hurt when Hair is Dirty - Dirty hair that hurts because of pressure

Hair that hurts because of fungus

Another possible reason that would explain why the scalp hurts when the hair is dirty is because you could have a fungal infection caused by a fungus called Malassezia furfur. This fungus feeds on the oils of the scalp and releases free fatty acids that cause irritation on the scalp. Malassezia is actually a fungus that is part of our natural cutaneous flora, but when it is found in excess it can cause irritation.

Besides hurting your scalp, malassezia can also cause other conditions such as dandruff. Dandruff caused by this fungus won't disappear only by using anti-dandruff shampoo.

What WON'T work to get rid of malassezia

  • Applying olive oil on your scalp: the oil will make the perfect environment for the fungus to grow, as it feeds on saturated fats. It is true that vegetable oils contain mostly unsaturated fats, but they have some saturated too. Also, unsaturated fats can make the inflammation worse.

What WILL work

  • Try using other oils that don't contain saturated fats such as baby oil. Apply baby oil 15 minutes before every time you wash your hair.
  • Use an anti-dandruff shampoo that also has anti-fungal ingredient.
  • Use a conditioner to soothe the scalp, but avoids those that contain vegetable oils.

If after a few weeks your dandruff hasn't improved and your scalp still hurts, it is important that you visit your doctor or dermatologist so he/she can give you a specific treatment.

Other possible reasons why the scalp hurts

There are other skin conditions that can make the scalp hurt, although they are not related with lack of cleanliness:

  • Chemical damage: the use of dyes, permanent wave solution or hair straighteners can irritate the scalp and even be painful.
  • Ultraviolet damage. Especially during the summer, the scalp can be damaged by the sun. We might use sunscreen on a daily basis, but applying sunscreen to the scalp is almost impossible. To protect your head from the sun and avoid painful burns it is important to wear hats or cover your head when you're exposed to the sun, for instance when at the beach. The skin on the scalp is very sensitive and it can be severely damaged by the ultraviolet rays.
  • Neurological causes. It can also occur that the pain in your scalp actually comes from a tension headache, which can make your scalp very sensitive to the touch.
  • Seborrheic dermatitis. This condition causes scaly patches and irritation and can be very painful. It is important to visit your doctor if you think you might suffer from seborrheic dermatitis, as it is a condition that can't usually be cured. In this article you'll find some natural remedies to alleviate the symptoms.

If you want to read similar articles to Why does the Scalp Hurt when Hair is Dirty, we recommend you visit our Beauty & Personal Care category.

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