Your scalp sensitivity can be triggered by various genetic, physical, chemical, and environmental factors.
photo courtesy of Michael Jung - Getty Images

According to research composed by National Institute of Health (NCBI), "sensitive skin is often seen on the face but it can also involve other areas, however recent study has indicated that sensitive skin can occur on the scalp and hands apart from the face. Your scalp sensitivity can be triggered by various genetic, physical, chemical, and environmental factors. This is characterized by presence of prickling burning or tingling sensation on the scalp."

Having a sensitive scalp, also known as being tender-headed, varies by person, but has been found to occur more frequently and intensely in those with either a greasy or dry scalp. However, intensity depends on a combination of factors. Depending on your condition, you may experience a sensitive scalp as:

  • Itchiness

  • Burning

  • Flakiness

  • Redness

  • Dryness

  • Sensitivity to touch

What causes tender scalp?

There are a number of causes that can lead to the symptoms above, so it may be challenging to discover the root cause on your own. We recommend seeking the advice of a trichologist, who specializes in problems with the hair and scalp. NaturallyCurly writer Sophia Emmanuel, an IAT certified trichologist, explains that "a trichologist will ask you specific questions about your diet, lifestyle, genetics, nutrition, and medical history before he or she can determine what your problem is." Here are a few of the causes that can lead to a tender scalp:

  • Environmental pollution from dirt and bacteria

  • Food and cosmetic allergies from detergents found in shampoos, conditioners, etc.

  • Use of chemical treatments like relaxers, perms, and permanent hair dye

  • Parabens and sulfates like sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate, cocamide DEA, TEA, or MEA found in many commercial hair care products

  • Inflammation from scalp conditions like Alopecia

  • Common skin disorders like Psoriasis

  • pH imbalance

  • Overgrowth of bacteria found in scalp

  • Product build-up

  • Tension caused by pulling hair too tightly with hair ties, bands, and clips

How to reduce your sensitivity

There are a number of natural ingredients that, when used on the scalp, can help alleviate some of the symptoms listed above. For example aloe vera juice can affect pH balance while an emollient like castor oil can soothe and hydrate skin affected by psoriasis.

  • Chamomile tea

  • Tea tree oil

  • Lavender oil

  • Aloe vera juice

  • Castor oil

These natural scalp treatments may work to lessen the severity of some of the above symptoms, but if you are dealing with a skin disorder like psoriasis or are experiencing excessive sensitivity or hair loss, you need to see a trichologist.

DIY tender-head/scalp sensitivity reliever

1. Mix ¼ cup of jojoba oil with 3 drops of lavender and 3 drops tea tree oil into your applicator bottle.

2. Shake well, and apply to your scalp 2 to 3 times a week.

This spray can be used as a pre-poo treatment on wash days. During the week, apply a few spritz along your edges and gently rub in.

Products that alleviate a tender head