Why does washing your hair lead to headaches? Let’s find out

Headaches can occur for a variety of reasons, including stress, irregular eating patterns, lack of sleep, and others. But have you ever experienced a headache immediately after a shower? Yes, it can happen!  You may experience this ache in any area of your head, particularly behind the ear. The term “behind the ear headache” describes pain that originates in that particular region of the head, which is quite uncommon but can be extremely uncomfortable.

What causes pain behind the ear?

While pain behind the ear may result from washing your hair, if it persists, it may be a sign of something more serious. The following are a few possible reasons for it:

  • Occipital neuralgia
  • Mastoiditis
  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder
  • Dental problems

The symptoms of each of these illnesses vary, headaches behind the ear are typically present in all of them.

Why does washing your hair cause headaches?

Hair washing is a common reason that triggers migraines, especially among women. In order to understand why this occurs and what you can do to prevent it, HealthShots spoke with Dr Pavan Pai, a consultant interventional neurologist and stroke expert at Wockhardt Hospitals Mira Road, Mumbai.

Avoid long showers. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Dr Pai says, “It may be shocking, but washing your hair can induce a headache. Hair wash migraines are headaches that start after a “head bath” and have become common nowadays. A majority of people tend to encounter this type of headache. Long hair washed around three times a week and plaited wet will lead to pain and ultimately migraine.”

Also read: 50-year-old suffers from ‘beauty parlour stroke syndrome’ while getting her hair washed: Know all about it

This has even been found in 94 out of 1500 Indian patients who participated in a prospective study that was published in SAGE journals, and reported experiencing headaches after washing their hair. Hair washing was the lone trigger in 11 patients, one of the triggers in 45 patients, and both simultaneously and in combination with another trigger in 38 patients.

The severity of the headache is widely variable. One may panic or get scared even to touch the hair owing to the constant migraine. As mentioned above, keeping your hair wet for a long time can induce a headache that can steal your peace of mind. As a result, you could find it difficult to focus on your work. The best prevention advice is to avoid regular hair washing.

Know how to reduce your headache. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Tips to manage migraine headache

  • Do not wash your hair frequently.
  • If you get a migraine after washing your hair, then take your medication on time.
  • Do not press the head too hard while washing.
  • Opt for a cold compress to relieve your migraine.
  • Try to drink enough water to avoid headaches.
  • Avoid caffeine when you have a headache.
  • Exercise regularly to avoid a migraine.
  • Don’t get stressed and keep your calm after a headache, or there will be more intense pain.
  • Do not expose yourself to extreme light after a headache.
  • Don’t forget to do breathing exercises to improve blood circulation and relieve stress.

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