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 pain in this area. 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 pain in the scalp 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.
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 condition, 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.