Keeping it simple

Why does my scalp hurt when my hair is dirty?

There are many times when we go without washing our hair for days & it is even good for hair to not them wash every day. But leaving them unwashed for days can lead to itchiness, scaliness & even scalp ache. Maybe you have felt the ache & you’re wondering why does my scalp hurt when my hair is dirty & how ache is related to hair washing. 

Actually, there is a scientific reason behind your scalp being hurt when your hair is dirty. It happens when the excess oil on your scalp gets attached to dirt & builds up around the hair follicle. This led to yeast overgrowth, which then resulted in redness, itching, scales & scalp ache. Let’s get to know more about this issue:

Why does my scalp hurt when I dont wash my hair?

As you know, we wash hair to remove dirt & excess oil from our scalp & hair. And if you will not wash the hair for some days, that dirt & excess oil will start to increase & even though you will use dry shampoo, that oil & dirt will not be eliminated entirely. 

The excess oil & dirt will then build around the hair follicles on the scalp & will result in yeast named Malassezia forming on the scalp. This yeast results in the scalp being inflamed & there will be redness, itchiness. 

And with inflammation, the scalp starts to hurt. So it is essential to wash your hair once in 2-3 days or as per your hair type. 

If you have too much pain & itchiness on your scalp & you are feeling the scalp being too tender at one spot, then visit a hair doctor or expert. 

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Can dirty hair cause sore scalp? 

Yes! Dirty hair can lead to sore scalp & that is due to your hair not getting stimulation due to not washing them or brushing them—this leads to the forming of dirt & oil on your scalp on too much level. 

The oil & dirt result in yeast forming around the hair follicles & scalp, which causes redness, itchiness & soreness on your scalp. 

So it is crucial to wash your hair at least once in 2-3 days to avoid too much dirt & oil buildup & ultimately avoid any soreness n your scalp. 

Why does my scalp hurt after wearing a ponytail? 

Scalp pain can also be a result of wearing a ponytail or hair too tight. It actually happens due to the sensitive nerves underneath your hair follicles. So when you wear a ponytail too tightly, the hair follicles from the area where you are wearing the ponytail get the sensation, resulting in pain. 

A ponytail headache is an external compression headache, which means it’s caused by something outside your head.

Not just a ponytail, the ache on your scalp can also happen after wearing a hijab, tight braids, or headscarf. 

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Moreover, when you are going without washing your hair for days, the oil buildup causes redness, inflammations & redness on your scalp, SO when you wear a ponytail, the inflamed area results in more pain. 

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Why does my hair hurt after wearing a hat? 

Actually, there are two reasons behind it; the first is that the hat is too tight on your hair & head. This results in pressure on the scalp & hair follicles, which make your head hurt. The pressure from the outside is named external compression headaches, as the pressure happens from outside the body. 

The second reason behind hair & scalp being hurt is wearing the hat, cap, or beanie for too long. When you wear the hat for more than 8 hours, the hair gets stick to only one position & it doesn’t allow any hair movement. So when you remove the cap, the hair gets pressure & it hurts for some time, till the hair gets to normal position. 

How to relieve scalp pain? 

If you are experiencing scalp pain from any of the above reasons, either due to not washing your hair, wearing a ponytail, or wearing a hat, then here are some legit solutions to relieve the scalp pain. 

Relieving scalp pain from dirty hair – In this case, the best way to feel better is by washing your hair with a good antifungal shampoo. As you have read earlier, the dirt & oil lead to high yeast levels & which results in scalp pain. So best is to decrease the yeast level. Do not just wash hair with regular shampoo, but it will be best to wash them with antifungal shampoo, which will remove the cause from roots. 

Here are antifungal shampoo recommendations:

Neutrogena T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo

Neutrogena T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo

  • Best to decrease itchiness & scalp pain
Buy Now
Nizoral Scalp Psoriasis Shampoo u0026amp; Conditioner

Nizoral Scalp Psoriasis Shampoo u0026amp; Conditioner

  • Work on scalp irritation, scales & itching
Buy Now

Relieving scalp pain from ponytail – Gently massaging the area is the best way to relieve ponytail pain. Massaging the area with oil will be best. The pain will go away in 10-15 minutes. 

Moreover, this kind of pain will go away in just one hour of removing the ponytail.

The best way to avoid ponytail pain is by wearing the ponytail gently & without much pressure on the hair. 

Relieving scalp pain from wearing the hat – You can undo the hat pain by gently massaging the hair, which is lying in just one direction for hours. Massage them for a few minutes & the pain will go away in minutes. 

To avoid pain in the future, try to wear loose caps & for some time only. 

Bottom Line

In the quest to understand why a scalp might hurt when hair is dirty, we’ve delved into various factors, from oil and product buildup to the potential for irritation and inflammation. Maintaining a healthy scalp is crucial for overall hair well-being, and adopting a consistent cleansing routine can help alleviate discomfort. By choosing suitable hair care products, practicing good hygiene, and addressing any underlying scalp issues, you can promote a comfortable and healthy scalp environment. Remember, a clean scalp contributes not only to physical well-being but also to the vitality and appearance of your hair.


Why does my scalp hurt when my hair is dirty?

Dirt, oil, and product buildup on the scalp can lead to irritation, inflammation, and discomfort. Understanding the factors contributing to a sore scalp is essential for effective solutions.

How often should I wash my hair to avoid scalp pain?

The frequency of hair washing depends on individual hair types and lifestyle factors. Generally, washing every 2-3 days or as needed helps maintain scalp health.

Can using the wrong hair products cause scalp pain?

Yes, using products unsuitable for your hair type or containing harsh chemicals can lead to scalp irritation and discomfort. Choose products tailored to your needs.

Are there home remedies to soothe a sore scalp?

Yes, natural remedies like aloe vera, tea tree oil, or a warm oil massage can provide relief. However, consult with a dermatologist for persistent scalp issues.

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