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What Causes Tender Scalp

Tender Scalp? Here's What Causes it and How You Can Deal With It

The causes of a tender scalp may range from medical conditions such as scalp psoriasis, ringworm, pathogenic infections, allergic reactions to the excessive use of shampoos or hair care products containing harsh chemicals. Let's look into the common reasons behind the development of tender spots on the scalp along with the ways to deal with this condition.
Reshma Jirage
Last Updated: Mar 12, 2018
A majority of scalp conditions are characterized by flaking, crusting, itching and development of blisters, sores or bumps on the scalp. The scalp may become tender and dry due to an imbalance in the levels of sebum, which is the natural oil or the secretion of the sebaceous glands. At times, excessive use of hair care products that contain harsh chemicals can be the cause of tender scalp. Most cosmetic shampoos contain an aggressive foaming and cleansing agent called Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS). This chemical removes the natural sebum from the scalp and affect its pH balance. When the skin becomes dry it may become susceptible to infection caused by parasitic microorganisms such as Pityrosporum Ovale or Malassezia Globbosa. Here are some medical conditions that may cause the scalp to become tender.
Contributory Factors for Tenderness of the Scalp 
There are various conditions that could give rise to itching and tenderness on the scalp. A few of them are given below.
  • Due to yeast infections, there may be flaking and dandruff formation which induces feelings of itchiness. This causes the affected individual to repeatedly scratch his/her head, leading to damage to the skin of the scalp which, taken to extremes, can result in weeping sores.
  • Tender hair follicles may result tying your hair too tightly. Many shampoos contain harsh ingredients, which destroy the hair follicles. These chemicals also destroy the sensitive glands surrounding the follicles which produce the natural oils to keep the scalp, follicles and hair protected. It may result in the development of scalp pimples.
  • Acne is also a common cause. It may result from infection, ingrown hair, hormonal causes, blocked pores and/or an incorrect diet.
  • A fungal infection by ringworm (Tinea capitis) is one of the main causes for a tender, sore scalp. This infection is more commonly seen in children. It is a superficial yeast infection of the scalp, and is caused by mold-like fungi known as dermatophytes. It causes symptoms such as itchy, red patches on the scalp, resulting in hair loss and development of bald areas on the head.
  • Your scalp may become tender due to an allergic skin reaction (contact dermatitis). There are two forms of allergic reactions: irritant contact dermatitis and allergic contact dermatitis. Allergic contact dermatitis is a type of hypersensitivity reaction, resulting from the body's immune system. Irritant contact dermatitis is developed due to the direct effect of irritant substances on the skin.
  • Certain viral infections such as chickenpox or shingles can also cause tenderness of the scalp.
  • Some other causes of scalp tenderness include scalp psoriasis or sunburns, headaches (tightening of muscles in the head region can lead to temporary scalp tenderness), head trauma and brain surgery.
Treatment
  • If tenderness of the scalp is due to ringworm, then it can be treated using over-the-counter medication containing clotrimazole or miconazole.
  • Sometimes, antifungal skin medications such as ketoconazole are also prescribed.
  • It is advised to use chemical-free hair care products. Use of products containing natural ingredients such as wheat germ, macadamia or jojoba oils are recommended. These oils moisturize and nourish the scalp.
  • You can also massage the scalp using natural oils such as lavender, chamomile, eucalyptus or avocado oil, which have soothing, healing, antibacterial, as well as antifungal properties.
Basically, the treatment depends upon the underlying cause. If you treat the cause, the symptoms of tenderness and sensitivity will disappear on their own accord. So, get yourself treated at the earliest to avoid more irritation and complicated skin conditions.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.