Hair ties simultaneously pull every strand of hair from the scalp and aggravate the pain sensors along the hairline. After a long day, this can cause anyone to develop a headache or experience allodynia – the sensation of pain from something that typically wouldn’t be painful.
“Ponytail headaches are surprisingly common, but different than everyday intracranial headaches,” says Dr. Aaron Bubolz, a neurologist at Aurora BayCare Medical Center in Green Bay, Wis. Unlike intracranial headaches, ponytail headaches are caused by external stimuli like headbands, tight braids or ponytails.
If you’ve ever had long hair, you are likely familiar with the pain that can be caused by a simple ponytail. All you wanted to do was tie your hair back to ward off the heat, but you ended up with an agonizing sensation on your scalp.
If you are prone to migraines, you are more likely to experience this type of headache. In fact, putting your hair up can even bring on migraine symptoms that were not otherwise present.
Follow these tips from Dr. Bubolz to fend off headaches caused by tight hairstyles:
Wash your hair
When the natural oils in your hair build up, the overproduction of yeast may lead to inflammation and sensitivity along your roots. “The best way to avoid this type of pain is to wash your hair as needed,” Dr. Bubolz explains. “Everyone’s hair is different, so do not be afraid to shampoo on days it feels greasier than usual.”
Keep your eye on the time
The longer your hair is up, the more likely you are to experience a headache. Let your hair down around every hour to relieve your nerves and release tension.
Massage your scalp
After your hair is down, take a few minutes to gently massage your scalp with your fingers. This can be done with your hair up or down and may help relieve tension.
Take an over-the-counter pain reliever
If you plan on wearing a tight hairstyle and have suffered ponytail headaches in the past, taking a pain reliever can help prevent the headache altogether. A headache that remains afterward could be a sign of a greater medical condition.
Get a good night’s rest
Other variables, such as your sleeping schedule, can also impact your susceptibility to headaches. Lack of sleep can “negatively impact your mood and increase your sensitivity to pain,” says Dr. Bubolz.
Find a different hairstyle
If you still experience headaches every time you put your hair up, you may need to consider a new hairstyle. Consider leaving your hair down for the day or peruse Pinterest boards for looser alternatives to ponytails.