Headaches After Washing Your Hair? Here’s What You Need to Know

Headaches — throbbing, dull, or sharp pains experienced in any part of the head — can have a variety of triggers, one of which might be surprising to you: washing your hair. It sounds strange, but it’s a phenomenon that numerous people report experiencing.

Having a headache after washing your hair may seem unusual or unexpected. Still, there are logical explanations behind this, and with proper knowledge, you can take effective measures to alleviate or even prevent these types of headaches. The reasons for these headaches can range from changes in body temperature to improper posture.

Temperature Changes

According to Dr. Anita Iroko, a general practitioner, a common cause of headaches after washing your hair can be a sudden change in body temperature, especially when using hot water. “When you wash your hair with hot water, it raises your body temperature. Once you finish and your body starts to cool down, this abrupt change can trigger what’s known as a ‘temperature headache,'” explains Dr. Iroko.

To prevent temperature headaches:

  • Opt for warm water instead of hot: While it may be tempting to take a hot shower or bath, especially in colder weather, a sudden change in temperature may lead to a headache.
  • Avoid extreme temperature fluctuations: If it’s cold, don’t immediately expose yourself to the cold air after washing your hair. Dry off and warm up first.

Posture and Muscular Strain

Another key factor that can cause headaches after washing your hair is posture, particularly when washing your hair in a sink at a salon. The awkward neck position often adopted while having your hair washed can strain the muscles in your neck and upper back, leading to a tension headache.

Dr. Iroko adds, “Maintaining an awkward posture for a prolonged time while washing your hair, especially in a salon sink, can lead to muscle tension and, subsequently, headaches.”

To avoid this:

  • Ensure your posture is correct and comfortable: This might be difficult in a salon setting but try to keep your neck in a neutral position and move around if you need to.
  • Take breaks: If you’re washing your hair at home, it’s okay to take a break if your neck starts to feel uncomfortable. Pausing for a minute or two can help reduce the risk of tension headaches.

Hair Weight and Tight Hairstyles

Remarkably, the weight of your wet hair and how you style it can also play a role in inducing headaches. Wet hair can weigh down your head, leading to strain on your neck muscles. Additionally, tight hairstyles like ponytails or braids after washing your hair can pull on your scalp, causing what’s often referred to as ‘ponytail headaches.’

Dr. Iroko suggests that to combat this. You should:

  • Let your hair down: Avoid tying your hair up tightly immediately after washing it. Allow your hair to dry and reduce in weight before styling.
  • Opt for loose hairstyles: Tight hairstyles can cause unnecessary stress on your scalp and neck muscles. Go for a loose bun or a low ponytail instead.

When Should You See a Doctor?

While the above are common causes of headaches after washing your hair, it’s crucial to understand that persistent or severe headaches could indicate a more serious health issue. If you notice that your headaches are becoming more frequent or severe, or they’re accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, vision changes, or confusion, it’s important to seek medical help immediately.

Dr. Iroko advises, “If the headaches persist, especially after implementing preventative measures, I recommend seeing a neurologist. They can help identify any underlying conditions and offer appropriate treatment for your headaches.”

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