Natural hair (especially type 4 hair) can be really hard to detangle and/or manipulate because the hair is dense tightly and coiled. ripping a comb through it without properly moisturizing first can put you in a world of pain. Granted, not everyone suffers from this, but quite a few people do. For most people the pain lasts a while longer than just in the moment, they feel pain whenever they touch their hair, and even when they leave their hair alone. This is termed tender scalp. Generally, tender scalp is defined as any pain, ache, inflammation, irritation, numbness, and even throbbing of the scalp.
A few baseline indications of tender scalp are; bumps/boils on your scalp after styling, injuries (visible and/or microscopic tears on the scalp), and general pain. If you suffer from tender scalp, it might sometimes even feel like your actual hair strands are hurting. This is because since your scalp is packed full of blood vessels and nerve endings, when they get inflamed, pain travels up your hair shaft and you feel like your strands are hurting.
Tender scalp can be caused by quite a few factors, they are;
- Tight hair styles.
This is the most common cause of tender scalp. Tight hairstyles, head bands, and head gear. These limit blood circulation around the scalp because of the tension they exert on it, and cause inflammation and soreness, which translates to the pain you feel.
2. Excessive/Incorrect manipulation
There is a WRONG way to handle your hair. Incorrect manipulation stems from improper moisturizing before detangling, and other incorrect practices such as combing from root to tips, and detangling without sectioning. This combined with excessive manipulation can put you in a tight corner hemmed in by a tender scalp.
People with dandruff are more likely to be victims of tender scalp. Dandruff stems from excessive oils in the scalp. These oils build up over time when you don’t wash your hair often, or properly. Some people have itchy dandruff, and the constant scratching of the scalp can contribute to tender scalp. Also if you suffer from dandruff, there’s a really helpful article right here.
4. Hair styling equipment
Hot combs, flat irons, blow dryers. These styling equipment more often than not require you to put high tension on your hair strands in order to achieve optimal styling. In addition to the fact that excessive heat can cause devastating damage to your hair, this regular tension that you apply to your scalp can also cause tender scalp. Also don’t forget that sometimes, these equipment touch your scalp, causing burns and scabs.
Certain hair products that contain harsh chemicals (like some relaxers), or even totally safe ingredients that you just don’t react well to, can be the origin of tender scalp and its problems for you. For a general list of ingredients to avoid in hair care products, check here.
6. Certain medical conditions
If your tender scalp isn’t caused by a medical condition, there are simple ways to alleviate your pain.
- Give your hair a break
Just let it be, you can put it in a low maintenance style, like cornrows (not too tight), or just part it into four places and braid/twist it into place. Leave this way for a week at least while constantly spritzing with water or a moisturizing mix (you don’t want it drying out). This can also be a preventive measure.
- Don’t skip wash days
Dandruff is a common cause of tender scalp, you can prevent its growth by washing your hair regularly. At least twice a month will suffice.
- Cut out styling equipment
It’s for your own good. Let the styling equipment rest for a while, at least till your scalp doesn’t hurt anymore. Find styles that you can achieve without using your equipment, I promise you, there are a lot of those.
- Use soothing oils
Certain oils have soothing properties and can offer almost immediate relief from a hurting scalp, they include;
- Coconut oil
- Jojoba oil
- Argan oil
- Vitamin E oil
- Lavender essential oil
- Tea tree oil
All these oils have strong anti-inflammatory properties that can soothe pain, and reduce swelling and redness. If you’re one to mix oils, you can play around with them, the first four are carrier oils, and the other three are essential. You could for instance mix, half a cup of coconut oil or jojoba oil with a few (8 to 10) drops each of lavender and vitamin e or peppermint oil. Apply this regularly (3 to 4 times a week), or just whenever your scalp aches.
Do you struggle with tender scalp? What do you usually do? If you found this article helpful, be sure to leave a comment below!