Could Your Shampoo Be Causing Your Headaches?

Luxuriating in a hot shower after a taxing day is bound to wash away all our stressors, right? For many of us, it leaves the body feeling relaxed, at ease, and refreshed. But imagine if that hot shower instead resulted in a pounding headache. That's the last thing any of us need — so why is your calming shower only amping up the stress?

"It may be shocking, but washing your hair can induce a headache," Dr. Pavan Pai, a consultant interventional neurologist and stroke expert at Wockhardt Hospitals in Mumbai, told Health Shots. "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."

In fact, a 2006 study published in SAGE Journals found that out of 94 patients in India who reported a migraine headache in connection to washing their hair, 11 patients cited hair-washing as the only stimulus that prompted their headache. While there may be a number of different reasons for this occurrence, one of the answers may lie in what you're using to wash your hair — specifically, your shampoo.

Chemical irritants in shampoo

Certain chemicals can make their way into the body from our shampoo. Based on how much of the chemical is contained within the product, the risks, and the duration of exposure, the California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology explains that some people may experience headaches in relation to these chemicals — particularly if the use of these chemicals is involved in their line of work.

For example, if your shampoo is intended to give your hair a delightful fruity or floral aroma, this may actually be what's causing the problem. Some scented shampoo products contain fragrances or essential oils, which have been linked to migraine headaches, according to experts at the Migraine Relief Center. Other potential migraine-evoking chemicals that may be hiding in your shampoo include parabens or sodium laurel sulphate, which gives our shampoo its lathering abilities. To test if fragrance or any of these other chemicals may be to blame, consider opting for a non-scented shampoo — or even trying out a different brand.

Be mindful of how you're shampooing your hair

Aside from the shampoo itself, the way in which you're working the product into your hair could also be a potential contributing factor. For instance, scrubbing your scalp too harshly or over-washing your hair multiple times throughout the week may be putting undue strain on your head. This can lead to a headache.

Shower aftercare is also something to consider. If you're someone who prefers to let your hair air dry, the cold may prompt tension in the head (via Migraine Relief Center). On the flip side, however, if you're using a hairdryer at a high temperature, the heat may be contributing to your headache. Alternatively, if your hair care routine involves putting your hair up in rollers after a shower, they may be pulling too tightly on the scalp. Lastly, you could try making some changes to your hair-washing regimen. If you shampoo your hair every evening before bed like clockwork, see what a morning time shower may do for your headaches.