Home Remedies To Treat Scalp Pain And Tenderness

Keep your scalp aches and irritations at bay with natural and effective concoctions.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Aanand Geria, MD Dr. Aanand Geria Dr. Aanand GeriaMD insta_icon
Written by , MSc Shaheen Naser MSc linkedin_icon Experience: 3 years
Edited by , MA (English Literature) Ramona Sinha MA (English Literature) linkedin_icon Experience: 11 years
Fact-checked by , MA (English Literature) Swathi E MA (English Literature) linkedin_icon Experience: 3 years
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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.

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 psoriasisi  A non-communicable autoimmune condition that causes scales and dry, itchy patches of skin to form due to abnormal build-up of skin cells. . 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
  • Scalp infections, a condition that causes scalp tenderness and hair loss
  • Androgenic alopecia
  • Trichotillomania

Factors that elevate the risk of this condition include:

  • Acne
  • Cysts
  • Allergic reactions
  • Infections of the skin or hair follicles
  • Viral diseases like shinglesi  A resurgence of the chickenpox virus within the body resulting in a painful rash resembling a streak of blisters. or measlesi  A highly contagious viral infection that affects the respiratory tract, resulting in severe fever, inflamed eyes, and rash.
  • 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

protip_icon Quick Tip
Over-brushing your wet hair frequently can cause hair loss and trigger scalp tenderness within a short period.

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.

Such scalp conditions require gentle therapy to alleviate the symptoms. 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

Tea tree oil for scalp pain
Image: 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

Apple cider vinegar for scalp pain
Image: 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

Coconut oil for scalp pain
Image: 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

Neem oil for scalp pain
Image: 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

Aloe vera for scalp pain
Image: 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

Lemon juice for scalp pain
Image: 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

Vitamins for scalp pain
Image: 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

Baking soda for scalp pain
Image: 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

Witch hazel for scalp pain
Image: 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

Sesame seed oil for scalp pain
Image: 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

Jojoba oil for scalp pain
Image: 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

Flaxseed oil for scalp pain
Image: 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

Eggs for scalp pain
Image: 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

Hydrogen peroxide for scalp pain
Image: 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).

protip_icon Quick Tip
Hydrogen peroxide is recommended to be stored in the original brown bottle or a dark-coloured spray bottle for further use on the scalp.

15. Honey

Honey for scalp pain
Image: 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. However, if the above remedies fail to provide relief, check out the next section for other treatment options for scalp tenderness.

Treatment Options For Scalp Tenderness

Treatment for scalp tenderness depends on the underlying cause. Here are some methods that help alleviate scalp tenderness:

  • Essential oils (rosemary and lavender)
  • Medicated washes, shampoos, conditioners, or rinses
  • Topical antiseptics
  • Ointments or creams containing corticosteroids
  • Cold compress
  • Pain relievers
  • Topical antibiotics
  • Antifungal medication

These are the other treatment options for scalp tenderness that you can opt for if home remedies don’t provide you relief. A blogger shares her experience of experiencing pain in her scalp, initially attributing it to the natural hair transition, but later discovering a small bald spot. Talking about natural remedies, she says, “I think I will go back to that as well as use rosemary and tea tree natural oils, and stick to a natural hair care routine (i).”

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.
  • Use essential oils of peppermint, eucalyptus, and rosemary for a therapeutic massage. Since essential oils are highly concentrated, dilute them with carriers such as castor oil or olive oil for enhanced benefits.
  • Apply weekly scalp masks with soothing ingredients like lavender oil, chamomile, avocado oil, or tea tree oil.
  • Let down tightly tied hair and allow your scalp to relax.

Infographic: Hair And Scalp Oils That Can Relieve Scalp Pain

There are a plethora of herbal remedies utilizing natural ingredients that can help relieve scalp pain. However, none perhaps, is as convenient as the ones using natural oils as they are easy to use and do not need any elaborate prep. Check out the infographic for a list of plant-based and other oils that can help you get rid of scalp pain.

hair and scalp oils that can relieve scalp pain (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

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, honey, baking soda, and witch hazel 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.

Why do the nerves on my scalp hurt?

Occipital neuralgia, a condition where the nerves running through the scalp are injured or disturbed, may cause the hurt. Strained neck muscles or pinched nerves can cause this condition. It may also result from a neck or head injury (16).

When should I be concerned about scalp pain?

Immediately consult a doctor if the excruciating pain persists or if you experience any fever or visual symptoms that do not subside within one to two weeks.

Why does it hurt when I touch the right side of my head?

You may have a migraine, tension headache, or cluster headache if you only experience pain on the right side of your head.

What does a brain tumor headache feel like?

These headaches could be significantly worse and more painful all over, or they could be more intense on one side of the head. They don’t feel like a regular headache. It is advisable to consult your doctor whenever you develop such headaches and any associated symptoms. The presence of any additional symptoms can frequently aid you and your doctor in determining the gravity of your condition.

Key Takeaways

  • Psoriasis, alopecia areata, and dandruff are a few causes of scalp tenderness.
  • You may experience scalp pain, flaking, or peeling when your scalp is tender.
  • Neem oil can help treat and soothe itchy scalps due to its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.
  • Natural ingredients like coconut oil can moisturize the scalp and reduce itching.
  • Use a gentle shampoo and avoid heat-styling tools that can cause scalp irritation.
Home Remedies To Treat Scalp Pain And Tenderness

Image: Dall·E/StyleCraze Design Team


Check out the following video to understand some of the major causes of your scalp pain and simple solutions to deal with it. It shares some easy tips to help you get relief quickly and effectively.

Personal Experience: Source

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Dr. Aanand Geria is a board-certified dermatologist and the founder of Geria Dermatology in Rutherford, New Jersey. With 12 years of experience, he is an expert in ethnic skin, minimally invasive cosmetic injectables, body contouring, and lasers.

Read full bio of Dr. Aanand Geria