Home Remedies To Treat Scalp Pain And Tenderness

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Aanand Geria, MD, Dermatologist
Written by Shaheen Naser

If you have been neglecting your hair a little, maybe it’s time you pay attention to what your scalp is saying. The scalp plays an important role in protecting your head, and constant scratching, changing your hairstyles often, or an underlying medical condition can leave you with scalp pain. In this article, we look at some of the home remedies for scalp pain and a few tips you can try to prevent scalp pain from developing again.

In This Article

What Is Scalp Tenderness?

Scalp tenderness is a common complaint associated with many medical conditions. These can include migraines, tension headaches, and autoimmune disorders like psoriasis. Even skin conditions like sunburns, rashes, and wounds can cause the scalp to become tender.

A tender scalp can turn itchy. Scratching an irritated or inflamed scalp can cause blisters, sores, or scabs. Other symptoms that surface with scalp tenderness are as follows.

Signs And Symptoms Of Scalp Tenderness

Most often, scalp tenderness does not show any symptoms. In some cases, you may notice that your scalp is:

  • Unusually painful
  • Peeling
  • Scaling
  • Flaking
  • Numb

Several underlying conditions could be responsible for a tender scalp. Some of the common causes of scalp pain or tenderness are listed below.

Causes Of And Risk Factors For Scalp Tenderness

Scalp tenderness is linked to many health conditions. They include:

  • Various forms of headaches
  • Rashes
  • Sunburns
  • Lice
  • Psoriasis
  • Insect bites
  • Dandruff
  • Skin cell cancers
  • Lichen planus, a condition that causes the scalp to scale or flake
  • Alopecia areata, a form of hair loss

Factors that elevate the risk of this condition include:

  • Acne
  • Cysts
  • Allergic reactions
  • Infections of the skin or hair follicles
  • Viral diseases like shingles or measles
  • Tight hairstyles or use of tight headbands
  • Frequent use of helmets
  • Frequent use of hair dyes
  • Frequent use of hair dryers, curlers, and flat irons

In addition to tenderness, these conditions can also cause inflammation, pain, flaking, and peeling of your scalp. In rare cases, your scalp may also secrete pus, bleed, or even form blisters and sores.

To help individuals struggling from this issue, we have summed up the best home remedies – these help treat your tender scalp and even provide relief from the underlying conditions.

Home Remedies To Treat A Tender And Sore Scalp

  1. Tea Tree Oil
  2. Apple Cider Vinegar
  3. Coconut Oil
  4. Neem Oil
  5. Aloe Vera
  6. Lemon Juice
  7. Vitamins
  8. Baking Soda
  9. Witch Hazel
  10. Sesame Seed Oil
  11. Jojoba Oil
  12. Flaxseed Oil
  13. Eggs
  14. Hydrogen Peroxide
  15. Honey

1. Tea Tree Oil

Shutterstock

You Will Need
  • 5-6 drops of tea tree oil
  • 2 teaspoons of jojoba oil
What You Have To Do
  1. Mix tea tree oil with jojoba oil.
  2. Apply this mixture to your scalp and massage gently.
  3. Leave it on for about 60 minutes before washing it off with a mild cleanser.
How Often You Should Do This

You must do this at least thrice a week.

Why This Works

The anti-inflammatory activities of tea tree oil provide instant relief from inflammation. The antimicrobial nature of tea tree oil further helps fight other scalp infections (1).

2. Apple Cider Vinegar

Shutterstock

You Will Need
  • 2 tablespoons of raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup of water
What You Have To Do
  1. Add the raw apple cider vinegar to water.
  2. Mix well and use this solution to wash your hair and scalp.
  3. Massage your scalp gently with this mixture for 5 minutes.
  4. Rinse the apple cider vinegar off your head with water.
  5. Do not shampoo soon after.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this 1 to 2 times daily.

Why This Works

The strong antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties of apple cider vinegar can ease the symptoms of pain and itchiness associated with a sore scalp (2).

3. Coconut Oil

Shutterstock

You Will Need

1-2 tablespoons of virgin coconut oil

What You Have To Do
  1. Massage coconut oil into your scalp.
  2. Leave it on for 30 to 60 minutes.
  3. Rinse it off with a mild cleanser.
How Often You Should Do This

You can do this 1 to 2 times every week.

Why This Works

The moisturizing properties of coconut oil promote scalp health. And the oil’s antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties can prevent infections and scalp inflammation (3), (4).

4. Neem Oil

Shutterstock

You Will Need
  • A handful of neem leaves
  • Water (as required)
What You Have To Do
  1. Take a handful of neem leaves and blend them with water.
  2. Apply the resultant neem paste to your scalp.
  3. Leave it on for 30 to 40 minutes and wash it off with water.
  4. Do not use a shampoo soon after.
How Often You Should Do This

You must do this at least once a week.

Why This Works

With its powerful anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, neem is another wonderful remedy to treat scalp tenderness and its painful symptoms (5).

5. Aloe Vera

Shutterstock

You Will Need

Aloe vera gel (as required)

What You Have To Do
  1. Take a small amount of freshly extracted aloe vera gel.
  2. Apply it directly to the scalp and leave it on for 30 to 60 minutes.
  3. Rinse the gel off your scalp with water.
  4. Do not follow up with a shampoo soon after.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this 2 to 3 times in a week.

Why This Works

The natural anti-inflammatory and soothing properties of aloe vera gel can work wonders on a sore scalp. Regular use of aloe gel can also help prevent dandruff and other scalp infections (6).

6. Lemon Juice

Shutterstock

You Will Need

A few drops of lemon juice

What You Have To Do
  1. Add a few drops of freshly squeezed lemon juice to your shampoo or conditioner.
  2. Use the shampoo/conditioner to gently massage your scalp for about 5 minutes.
  3. Rinse your head with cold water.
How Often You Should Do This

You must do this whenever you wash your hair.

Why This Works

Lemon juice is acidic and can help restore the lost pH of your scalp. It is also a strong anti-inflammatory agent that can help soothe itchiness, inflammation, and soreness in your scalp (7).

7. Vitamins

Shutterstock

You can also combat scalp tenderness with a little modification to your diet. Nutrients like vitamins B, C, and E promote healthy scalp and hair (8). They enhance sebum secretion of the scalp, protect it from free radical damage, and improve circulation.

Foods rich in these vitamins include catfish, chicken, wheat germ, peanuts, almonds, citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables, cheese, eggs, and milk. You can also take additional supplements for these vitamins after consulting your health care provider.

8. Baking Soda

Shutterstock

You Will Need
  • 1 tablespoon of baking soda
  • Water (as required)
What You Have To Do
  1. To a tablespoon of baking soda, add a little water to form a thick paste.
  2. Use this mixture as a scalp and hair cleanser.
How Often You Should Do This

You must do this at least once a week.

Why This Works

Baking soda is a strong alkaline agent that helps cleanse and soothe a tender scalp. And its antimicrobial activities prevent further scalp infections (9).

9. Witch Hazel

Shutterstock

You Will Need
  • 1 tablespoon of 100% pure witch hazel
  • 2 tablespoons of water
What You Have To Do
  1. To a tablespoon of witch hazel, add two tablespoons of water.
  2. Mix well and massage this solution into your scalp.
  3. Allow it to work for about 5 to 10 minutes before rinsing it off.
  4. Avoid shampooing soon after.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this once daily.

Why This Works

Witch hazel is a popular astringent that relieves an itchy scalp and its symptoms (10).

10. Sesame Seed Oil

Shutterstock

You Will Need

1-2 tablespoons of sesame oil

What You Have To Do
  1. Massage the sesame oil into your scalp.
  2. Leave it in for 30 to 60 minutes.
  3. Wash your head with a mild cleanser.
How Often You Should Do This

You must do this once a week.

Why This Works

Sesame oil contains vitamins B complex and E that promote circulation to the scalp. It also exhibits anti-inflammatory action, thereby healing an irritated and inflamed scalp (11).

11. Jojoba Oil

Shutterstock

You Will Need

1-2 tablespoons of jojoba oil

What You Have To Do
  1. Warm the jojoba oil slightly.
  2. Massage it into your scalp.
  3. Leave it on for 30 to 40 minutes before rinsing it off with a mild cleanser.
How Often You Should Do This

You must do this 1 to 2 times per week.

Why This Works

The moisturizing and anti-inflammatory properties of the oil heal an inflamed, dry, and itchy scalp (12).

12. Flaxseed Oil

Shutterstock

You Will Need
  • 2 tablespoons of cold-pressed flaxseed oil
  • A hot towel
What You Have To Do
  1. Apply two tablespoons of flaxseed oil to wet hair.
  2. Dip a clean towel in hot water and wring out the excess water.
  3. Wrap your head with the hot towel.
  4. Let it work for 20 to 30 minutes.
  5. Rinse the oil off with a mild cleanser.
How Often You Should Do This

You must do this once a week.

Why This Works

Flaxseed oil is packed with omega-3 fatty acids that help moisturize your scalp. It can also help combat inflammation and irritation with its anti-inflammatory effects (13).

13. Eggs

Shutterstock

You Will Need
  • 1-2 eggs (depending on your hair length)
  • Shower cap or towel
What You Have To Do
  1. Whisk one to two eggs and apply it to your scalp and hair.
  2. Cover your head with a towel or shower cap.
  3. Leave it on for 20 to 30 minutes.
  4. Rinse it off with water.
How Often You Should Do This

You must do this at least once a week for the desired results.

Why This Works

Egg masks help restore the lost moisture of your scalp and also soothe irritation.

14. Hydrogen Peroxide

Shutterstock

You Will Need
  • 1 tablespoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide
  • 2 tablespoons of water
What You Have To Do
  1. Mix a tablespoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide with two tablespoons of water.
  2. Use this solution to clean and sanitize your scalp.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this once every alternate day for best results.

Why This Works

The antimicrobial activities of hydrogen peroxide can prevent infections of the scalp, thereby helping with dandruff and itchy tender scalp (14).

15. Honey

Shutterstock

You Will Need
  • 4 tablespoons of honey
  • 1 tablespoon of warm water
What You Have To Do
  1. Mix four tablespoons of honey with a tablespoon of warm water.
  2. Apply this mixture to your scalp.
  3. Leave it on for 1 to 2 hours.
  4. Rinse away with warm water.
How Often You Should Do This

You must do this 1 to 2 times in a week.

Why This Works

Given that honey has powerful anti-inflammatory properties, it is no wonder that it works well against scalp tenderness, inflammation, and, itching (15).

While you allow these remedies to work, you can also follow a standard scalp care routine to prevent future scalp issues. Listed below are a few tips that may help.

Tips To Prevent Scalp Problems

  • Avoid spending too much time in the sun.
  • Do not use chemicals such as dyes that may cause hair damage.
  • Avoid using devices like blow dryers, flat irons, curlers, etc.
  • Do not share your hair ties, bands, or towels with other individuals.
  • Massage your scalp in a circular motion using your fingertips.
  • Let down tightly tied hair and allow your scalp to relax.

A tender scalp may be indicative of underlying medical conditions or be a result of sunburn, head lice, dandruff, or insect bites. Though this condition generally presents no symptoms, some individuals may experience numbness, peeling, flaking, pain, and scaling on the scalp. Secretion of pus or blood, sores, and blisters are uncommon symptoms but may occur in some individuals based on the underlying reason for the tenderness. Aloe vera, hydrogen peroxide, apple cider vinegar, vitamins, flaxseed oil, honey, witch hazel, and baking soda are some commonly used ingredients in home remedies for scalp pain.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best foods to eat to treat scalp tenderness?

Some foods that are known to keep your scalp and hair healthy include salmon, beef, prunes, green tea, carrots, eggs, brown rice, leafy veggies, oysters, and cottage cheese.

Why does my scalp hurt when I touch it?

Infections of the hair follicles often result in scalp sensitivity. It can cause your scalp to pain and become sore or warm.

How long does it take to heal a sore scalp?

With treatment and a few lifestyle changes, your sore and tender scalp will start reverting to its normal condition in as early as a week. If the tenderness does not decrease even after a month of treatment, it is best to seek medical intervention.

The following two tabs change content below.

Dr. Aanand Geria

(MD)
Dr. Aanand Geria is a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Geria Dermatology in Rutherford, New Jersey. He is an expert... more

LATEST ARTICLES