I sometimes hear from people who are dealing with sudden and severe hair loss. One day, they wake up and notice tons of hair falling onto their clothing, or coming out in their comb, or clogging up the shower drain. As if this isn’t bad enough, sometimes they experience pain in their scalp during this process. They are often left wondering if there is some medical issue that is the root cause of this.
I recently heard from someone who said: “I woke up this weekend and there was tons of hair on my pillow. When I showered and washed my hair, lots more came out. I was hoping that things would be back to normal in a day or two, but this hasn’t been the case. Not only is the shedding as bad as ever, for the last few days, my scalp has been so sore. It almost throbs like a heart beat. I’ve had seasonal shedding before, but it was always over quickly and it’s never caused me to have a sore scalp. Could this be the result of a medical issue that I need to be worried about? Could there be something wrong with me?”
I’m certainly not a doctor, and if you have medical concerns, you should certainly see one. But I can tell you that sometimes with a hair shedding condition called telogen effluvium (TE,) it’s not uncommon to have an accompanying sore scalp. This can happen for a couple of reasons. First, when you have TE, many of your hair follicles go into the resting or shedding phase of their life cycle at one time. This is not the normal way that things work in a normal head of hair. When your hair is shedding normally and going through its typical cycle, only around 5 percent of your total strands are in this shedding phase at one time. But when you have TE, many more can shift into the shedding phase – which means many are going to call out at once. This process can cause inflammation. As the result of this, you can have that sore scalp that we have been talking about.
Now, with that said, there are medical issues that can have shedding hair and as sore scalp as symptoms. Once again, I am not a doctor, but just some examples are thyroid, endocrine, or autoimmune issues, to name only a few. As I said before, if you think that you could have a medical problem, please address this with your doctor. Telogen effluvium (TE) is not always the result of an illness. It can also be due to stress, hormonal changes, weight loss, anesthesia, or giving birth. As you can see, in these cases, there is really nothing medically wrong. But your body has gone through changes that have reset your hair cycle.
How To Soothe Your Sore Scalp: Dandruff shampoos can help to knock back some of the inflammation and ease the pain somewhat. Aloe vera juice dropped onto your scalp with an eye dropper can be quite soothing. Tea tree and emu oils are also popular choices. Just be careful that anything you chose isn’t thick enough to clog your hair follicles.
People often ask me how long they are going to have to tolerate the sore scalp. There’s no easy answer to this. Sometimes, you continue to have scalp issues while the shedding and hair loss continues and sometimes, you only see it in the early phases of the TE. Unfortunately, some people who have chronic telogen effluvium (the type that lasts for longer than 3 months) seem to have the highest instances of scalp pain, but this is just my unscientific observation. For many, the scalp issues are a passing thing that ends right along with the TE. And for others, it becomes a reoccurring problem.