What Are the Different Causes of Scalp Pain?

A scalp cyst.
Scalp pain may be the result of a headache.
Article Details
  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Images By: Paul Huxley, Vgstudio
  • Last Modified Date: 05 July 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Scalp pain can be associated with a number of causes, ranging from localized issues like damage to the nerves supplying the scalp to more distant medical problems, like thyroid disease. People who experience persistent scalp pain may want to consider contacting a doctor for evaluation to find out more about what is causing this symptom and to explore possible treatment options. Sometimes, there is no satisfactory explanation, and it is not possible to accurately diagnose or treat the pain.

Medical issues in and around the skull are a common source of scalp pain. Cancers on the scalp, along with some types of brain tumors, blood vessel inflammation, contact dermatitis, and simple lesions like head injuries can all cause scalp pain. Some people experience pain as a result of their hair styles; if the hair is pulled taut and held in the same position for long periods of time, it may lead to irritation. Lice and other parasites also can cause pain in the scalp, as can infections like cellulitis and fungal infections.

Some patients with rheumatoid arthritis experience a complication known as Felty syndrome, and scalp pain can be a symptom. Fibromyalgia patients also commonly experience scalp pain, as can people with thyroid problems such as Grave's disease. Neurological conditions where the nerves send pain signals when no actual pain is occurring can also lead to sensations of heat, tingling, or stabbing pain in the scalp. Additionally, headaches can be linked with symptoms like pain around the scalp and forehead.

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Sometimes known as trichodynia, scalp pain can be frustrating for patients. It may be accompanied with hair loss in some people. Options for diagnosing the cause can include a thorough examination of the scalp, bloodwork to check for tell-tale signs of disease, and medical imaging of the skull. Patients should report any other symptoms they have, even if they do not appear connected to the scalp, as the symptoms together may lead the doctor to a diagnosis of disease.

If an underlying cause can be determined, treating it should resolve the scalp pain, as well as other symptoms. When no cause can be found, treatment options may include changing hairstyles to relieve pressure on the scalp, pain management medication to block or reduce pain signals, stimulation of the scalp to promote bloodflow, and complementary medical options like acupuncture to address the pain. Patients experiencing pain with an unknown cause should take note of new symptoms, as these may eventually lead to a diagnosis.

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anon357096
Post 2

I have been having scalp pain for several years now. It comes and goes. I have been to many dermatologists and they prescribe creams, shampoos, tell me to take Benadryl. Nothing helps. They have injected steroids and they were no help.

I went to the ER because the scalp pain was so bad. They said ringworm, but no, it's not ringworm. It's not psoriasis. They did a biopsy and that seemed to make it feel better only for a short while then bam! It's back. All I do is scratch my freaking head. It's a round spot, the hair is breaking off and it's itchy and it hurts like hell. It's like sharp claws are stabbing my scalp. I am so tired of my head bothering me like this.

I tried so many things: Neosporin, Benadryl cream, baby oil, baby powder, so on and so on. Nothing helps. The biopsy says it's just an itchy spot. Whatever. I am thankful it's not a tumor or anything, but this is horrible to live with. I am trying fenugreek now. I'm also going to try the Essiac tea. I am to see a Neurologist, but can't get in for a month. Maybe I can make an appointment with pain management, I don't know what to do or how to get relief.

People think, oh it can't be that bad. Well it is. It is real bad. The pain is unreal. This time I have had this for eight months and it's not going away. It's only getting worse. It kind of resembles a pilar cyst. You can't see a cyst; I think its under the skin.

Nobody will go in and even to try to remove anything. I want it out if that's what it is. I think it stinks so bad we have all these doctors, but nobody will even try to help. This is certainly not normal. The doctors say it's just an itchy spot but there is no way I believe that. There is pain, pain, pain!

anon307610
Post 1

I had severe scalp pain on top of my head, too. It was generally painful and brushing my hair really hurt. It would come and go seemingly without cause. Turns out it was the cold while I slept. I think it's the gyporock wall pulling the heat out of my scalp. Try a pillow or something like that to act as an insulator. Anything that insulates should work. You will feel results immediately.

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