Burning Sensation & Pain on Scalp

Woman who has pain on her scalp
Photo: LeDi/Shutterstock
Q: Since recently, I am having burning sensation and pain on my scalp when I color my hair. I use semi-permanent hair color and yet I am experiencing a lot of pain, and it lasts for a few days. What could I do to prevent the pain? I can't imagine no longer coloring my gray hair. Thank you so much for your help.
A: STEP ONE: You need to STOP using the product you are using. You appear to have developed sensitivity to something in the color product that is causing the reaction. As I am sure you know pain is a warning that something is not right with something we are doing.
STEP TWO: See your doctor and explain to him the reaction you are having and allow him to examine your scalp for damage and scarring from the exposure. Discuss with him your symptoms and allow him to help you make sure there isn't some other underlying problem that has led to the sensitivity.
STEP THREE: Before you use ANY OTHER hair color product on your hair do a PATCH TEST with that product first. I recommend using a different brand of semi-permanent hair color than you have been using, mix a small amount of it (if needed) as directed and apply a small amount of it with a cotton swab just behind your ear.
Leave the color formula there for the normal processing time and wipe it off with a moist cloth. Wait at least 48 hours. If there is any redness, burning, or sign of irritation in the area where the color was swabbed on, DO NOT use the product.
Semi-permanent hair colors are often formulated with slightly different compositions depending on the maker. You may be sensitive to an ingredient they have in common, or to one that is specific to a single maker. So, you should test any of them before you simply apply them.
You may also consider switching to a temporary rinse to cover your gray hair. These only last from shampoo to shampoo, but are generally very gentle. Even so, perform the patch test before you use them.
See also:
Hair coloring
Hair color allergies
The different types of hair color
Potential hair coloring problems in a salon setting