A tingling scalp is a fairly common condition, and one that can mean a variety of things.
As causes range from allergic reaction to unhealthy scalp conditions to anxiety, a tingling scalp may be a sign of hair loss to come and should be proactively taken care of.
In this article, you’ll learn more about scalp tingle and what it means for you. This will include an in-depth look at its causes, as well as an introduction to all-natural methods for combating the issue and preventing any side effects (such as indirect hair loss).
What Is Scalp Tingle?
Scalp tingle, professionally known as scalp paraesthesia, is a disorder where individuals feel a pins-and-needles sensation on their head.
This is usually followed by related symptoms – such as numbness, itching, and burning – but can also occur alone depending on the cause.
Scalp paraesthesia is related to a disorder known as scalp dysesthesia. This is a condition that causes sufferers to feel stinging, burning, or itching when no obvious cause is present.
What Causes a Tingly Scalp?
In some cases, an obvious cause may not be seen. However, scalp tingling does not occur on its own, and is therefore triggered by something. Let’s take a look at some of the most common causes.
Whether you’re using shop-bought or homemade products, you may experience a tingly scalp after use. This can a “side effect” of its ingredients, or it could be a sign of an allergic reaction.
Certain ingredients – including peppermint and menthol – can stimulate the scalp and give off a tingly and/or cooling sensation. For some, this can be soothing. For others, the sensation may be a bit intense.
In other cases, a tingling sensation may be a sign of an allergic reaction.
If the tingling is accompanied by itching, redness, and hives, then it’s very likely that you’re allergic to one or more ingredients present in the product. This means use of the product should be stopped immediately.
If you suffer from Androgenetic Alopecia (AGA), you have a sensitivity to DHT. This is a chemical naturally produced within the body and, aside from hair fall, it can trigger symptoms such as itching and tingling.
While there isn’t much in the way to scientifically support this claim, many sufferers of AGA complain of this very side effect.
This tingling may be associated with the process of hair miniaturization, which occurs within the presence of DHT. Or, it could be caused by the thinning and hairline recession associated with AGA.
One of the likeliest causes of scalp tingling, scalp conditions can trigger a number of unpleasant symptoms. Let’s take a look at three such conditions and their relation to a tingling scalp.
Dandruff is caused by an overgrowth of the yeast, Malessezia. As the condition progresses, patients begin to experience intense itching, flaking (white or yellow), burning, and a scaly rash.
Of course, all of this irritation can also lead to tingling and soreness.
This condition can lead to hair loss, but it’s not the cause of it. Instead, the constant scratching and interruption of the hair growth cycle are the culprits.
A more severe form of dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis is another scalp condition accompanied by symptoms such as itching, flaking, scaling, and burning.
Unlike dandruff, fungal overgrowth isn’t the only trigger for this condition. In addition, researchers believe that genetics, health, and stress can also play a role.
As a sufferer, you may experience scalp tingling from time to time. This can leading to scratching of the area, and this can further exacerbate symptoms.
A condition triggered by the presence of an allergen, allergic dermatitis can cause itching, redness, burning, and tingling.
In the majority of cases, allergic dermatitis occurs as the result of a topical allergen. This includes hair products, such as shampoos and serums. However, an allergic reaction on the scalp can occur as a result of allergen ingestion.
While not the most common cause of scalp tingling, anxiety (especially over hair loss) can lead you to feel a scalp tingle. Why is this?
Stress is a factor that can trigger both local and systemic reactions. This stress can be physical, chemical, or biological, but it can all trigger the same reaction within the body.
As stress levels rise, so do too stress chemicals and hormones. It’s been shown that receptors for these hormones, CRHR1, are present within the skin and hair follicles. This means that stress not only trigger internal reactions, but external as well.
One such external reaction is skin tingling, burning, or pain.
This is because these receptors can trigger the arrector pili muscle, the muscle that is attached to hair follicles throughout the body and responsible for goosebumps.
As the arrector pili muscle flexes, it can cause a tingling sensation. This can be irritating, but is typically short lived.
In cases of chronic stress, however, you may experience more frequent flexing of the muscle and, therefore, more tinglng of the scalp and body.
Can Scalp Tingle Be a Sign of Hair Loss?
While the longer answer to this question isn’t so direct, the short answer is no.
If you’re experiencing scalp tingle – especially if you’re susceptible to hair thinning or alopecia – you may be alarmed. However, a scalp tingle is not a direct sign of hair loss.
Can the cause of the scalp tingle lead to hair loss? Absolutely.
As mentioned above, there are many causes of scalp paresthesia. Some of these are not as severe in the long run (such as anxiety).
However, if left untreated, other causes (such as dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis) can eventually lead to hair issues.
How to Combat Scalp Tingle
Even if the tingle isn’t causing other issues, it can be bothersome nonetheless. So, what can you do to put a stop to it?
Use a Gentle Cleansing Shampoo
Whether allergies are the cause, or you’re suffering from dandruff or a similar scalp condition, a gentle cleansing shampoo can be the answer to your problems.
So many of the shampoos bought in stores contain harsh chemicals with long-lasting effects. While they may do what they say on the bottle (such as volumize or moisturize), they can also cause irritation and even indirectly lead to hair thinning and loss.
In this case, I recommend you make your own cleansing shampoo at home.
Here’s my four-ingredient go-to shampoo:
- Liquid castile soap (1/2 cup)
- Maple syrup (2 tablespoons)
- Carrot seed essential oil (5-10 drops)
- Castor oil (10 drops)
Combine all ingredients in the bottle of your choice. Shake well.
Pour over wet scalp, and lather into hair. Massage for 2-3 minutes, and then rinse thoroughly with lukewarm water.
Aside from the gentle cleansing abilities of liquid castile soap, both the carrot seed essential oil and maple syrup also have cleansing and purifying properties.
The carrot seed oil is thought to stimulate the scalp, while also helping to treat and protect against fungal infections.
The maple syrup is a natural antibacterial, and is also soothes and nourishes. In addition, the castor oil moisturizes and hydrates, and this can put an end to any itching or tingling of the scalp.
Treat the Issue
As mentioned, there are a few conditions that can cause scalp tingling. In such cases, the only way to combat the issue is to treat it directly.
Fortunately, all of the conditions listed above can be treated with a variety of different techniques.
Scalp conditions, such as dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis, can be treated with an antifungal. This can be prescribed by a dermatologist, or you can make your own at home using natural ingredients (such as castor oil and tea tree oil).
Anxiety and stress is another condition commonly associated with scalp tingle, and there are a few techniques to lessen the impact. One is controlled breathing (such as that practiced in meditation and yoga), and this can be done anywhere, at anytime.
Another stress-reducing activity is exercise. This is especially helpful if you have nervous energy, as it will help you to channel that energy into something more productive.
When Should I See My Doctor?
In certain cases, the above treatment methods may not be effective. Or, you may be struggling to determine the cause. In both cases, it’s best to seek out the help of a medical professional.
Scalp paresthesia isn’t an uncommon condition. In fact, a French study showed that 44.2% of the studied population suffered from some form of scalp sensitivity, including tingling or burning. With this in mind, it’s not odd to see your doctor about such a condition.
So, who should you see?
While your primary care physician may be able to help, a dermatologist is likely more familiar with the condition.
While scalp tingling is not a direct sign that hair fall is imminent, it can mean that there is an underlying problem. This problem may lead to hair loss down the line if not treated.
Are any of the above-mentioned conditions causing your hair problems?
Leave a comment below if you have a question or observation.
*This article was written by Dr. Debra Rose Wilson.