By: Ava Alderman: I get a lot of correspondence from people with hair loss who are experiencing discomfort with their scalp. Specifically, their scalp might be tight and painful. It might feel tingly or have a “pins and needles” sort of sensation. It may even be red and irritated. Many people assume that this is part of the hair loss process. But then when the sensation continues on, they start to question this assumption. They may read that hair begins regrowing as soon as it falls out, so they may start to speculate that perhaps it is the regrowth process that is causing the discomfort and the tingling feeling.
Someone might ask: “my scalp has been bothering me for months now. It started shortly after my hair started falling out from telogen effluvium. I’ve never had dandruff, so I have never been someone who has to scratch my scalp or pick at it. But ever since my hair started falling out, my scalp has itched, burned, and generally just made me aware of its presence. If it is not slightly painful, it is sort of tingly. I figured the hairs that were falling out might have been causing the discomfort. But then I talked to a friend of mine and she said she noticed her scalp tingling like that when she started hair growth vitamins. So she says that what I am feeling is probably an indication of my hair actually growing and not falling out. Who is right?”
I actually think that you are both right, at least in my experience. I’ve had telogen effluvium more than once. And every time, I have had scalp symptoms during both hair loss and hair regrowth. Here is why. You normally don’t feel it when your hair falls out or regrows because typically, only ten percent (at most) of your hair sheds out at any one time. But when you have telogen effluvium, that percentage is higher. A much higher amount of follicles are affected and become active. This can create some inflammation, which can cause those burning / stinging / itching / tingling symptoms that we are all aware of. However, those same follicles that were active during the fall also must be active during regrowth. The follicle lost a hair in the beginning stage but then it must grow a hair in the regrowth stage. Since there are so many follicles doing this at once, inflammation continues to be a possibility and of course we know that you can feel inflammation on the scalp.
I hope that this helps and answers the question. Many notice that as the shedding begins to slow, the scalp symptoms get better. If this isn’t the case or if you just need some relief, dandruff shampoo, scalpacin, and tea tree oil can all provide some temporary relief. Once the cycle is over and you only have a small amount of follicles being affected by the growth / rest cycle, you should once again no longer be aware of the cycles that are happening with your scalp and you should no longer feel it.