Cutting Hair for Headache Relief?

My 15-year-old niece who has chronic daily headache asked me if cutting my hair, which was to my mid-back, into a pixie cut reduced my head pain. Although I don’t remember noticing a correlation, I’m hoping you may have some experience with this. She said it always feels like her hair is pulling on her scalp and that she gets a horrendous headache whenever she straightens her hair. Any idea if cutting her hair may help relieve her head pain?

44 Responses to Cutting Hair for Headache Relief?

  1. Yes! I chopped mine off and noticed a slight difference which prompted me to ask my neurologist. He said people that suffer from migraines sometimes have hypersensitive nerve ending in their head and skin. I cannot remember the word for it, something like aleopecia. Anyways, the weight of the hair can be enough to exacerbate daily headaches. When you’ve been to the neuro, have they lightly touched your face or scalp and asked if that hurt? They are look for this sensitivity. Not all patient have it but I did notice a small improvement.

  2. Alas, at one point in my 20’s I did cut my hair super short…for me it made no diff with chronic daily HA and 4/month migrane. Now that I am in my 60’s, a sure exacerbation of sever chronic daily HA is going to hairdresser and having my neck in the sink- even with a padded cushion…. Good luck,

  3. Robin Leszner says:

    My short hair has provided me with relief, especially because any pins, clips or ponytails would surely trigger a headache, and I hate having my hair in my eyes! Also, it’s much easier to dry my hair before going out into the cold (another trigger). I don’t think it’s a cure-all, but it certainly has helped me. :-)

  4. Allison Eckerman says:

    I noticed a difference. I have an extremely sensitive scalp, and it hurt to go to the salon, or comb through knotted hair, or put it in pony tails with any clips or headbands. But last summer I cut it fairly short (A-line chin-length, when before it was to about mid-back), and not only was it easier to deal with (quick, easy brush-through in the morning, no knots!) but also it seemed to decrease my daily headaches a bit. I would recommend her cutting it short, especially if she has scalp sensitivity!

  5. Nilofer says:

    I have never had thick, heavy hair so haircuts only created a slight feeling of lightness. I do remember making a lot of associations as a pre-teen/teenager that were similar. I noticed that I always got a headache after sitting in the car wearing my jean jacket. The collar was creating added pressure to my neck. I could never wear hairbands of any sort either. As a much younger child I thought that AM radio gave me headaches but that FM radio did not. My parents just thought that I preferred Musac from FM radio rather than the static-filled talk radio on AM.

  6. Mel says:

    Long or short hair has never made any difference with my headaches (chronic daily headache + episodic migraines). When I wore it long – mid-back to waist – I almost always wore it up, and my scalp would ache from pins/clips/ponytail holders, etc. Now I wear it in a pixie cut, but still have pretty severe allodynia – lying on my back is painful with the back of my head touching the pillow, and I dislike wearing hats, headphones, or anything else on my head.

    Does your niece have general scalp tenderness or sensitivity to things touching her head? If she’s lying down, does it still feel like her hair is pulling on her scalp? If not, cutting it might help. She’s 15, after all – why not experiment?

  7. I have had mine long or short. The thing about shorter hair is it takes less time to dry and straighten, which cuts down on the head pain. I can’t ever wear mine in a ponytail anymore, so it might as well be short….although, when it is long, you can quickly braid it, or let it dry and go, and the length makes it so styling is not a necessity. When mine is shorter (shoulder length) I do have to do something with it. Trade-offs, really. Good luck to her!

  8. Lisa says:

    My hair is long but I find if its hurting a braid is best. A ponytail can hurt or sometimes it can feel good–it’s weird!

  9. Lily Ellis says:

    I definitely notice an increase in headaches when my hair gets longer than shoulder length. Tying my hair back gives me a headache after a few hours, although weirdly enough two ponytails I can tolerate most of the time.

  10. kate says:

    i interviewed for a migraine research project years ago, and the neurologist in charge asked me about my short hair. though it wasn’t something he’d officially tracked, he said it seemed that well over 90% of chronic migraine sufferers (female) kept their hair short, and so he was starting to ask more about it. he wondered if it was an unconscious method of pain management.

    mine’s been short since age 18, prior to which it was long, down my back. i really don’t like to deal with my hair anymore, which is not what i was like in younger days. i don’t notice a pain difference each time i cut it, but i do notice that i find it wildly irritating when it gets a bit too long and heavy, and i feel great relief when i get rid of some of it. migraine-related? who knows. it wouldn’t surprise me. migraines are so crazy in so many ways, nothing surprises me anymore.

  11. Sandy says:

    I cut my long hair into a pixie a couple years ago, and it helped a little, because “my hair hurt my head”, as did “pins, barrettes, combs, etc”. I’ve let it grow a little bit (really not much), but I wanted to use styling product on my hair, not my scalp, because it hurt too much to touch my scalp. I think each person is different. The right meds have helped a little.

  12. James says:

    Yes, I have heard this before. I’ve never had long hair myself, but certainly some who have migraine have had a drastic improvement after going to a shorter style.

  13. lisa says:

    I can’t speak to the impact of having less hair, but I can say that when I opted for a few subtle (or that was the intention) hair extensions, the impact of the constant slight pull on my scalp triggered a massive migraine, a scenario that was repeated when I had the extensions replaced. After that, I removed them.
    I find ponytails intolerable for the same reason.

  14. no says:

    I CAN’T stand long hair, or having a lot of it.
    I’d like to have long hair, but I can’t stand it, so I settled for a lenght that didn’t annoy me: breast lenght, and thinned it a lot so it doesn’t weight much.

    My headaches haven’t been better, I think, but I do feel more comfortable. Pony tails no longer weight my head down or make my scalp hurt.

  15. Eshetie says:

    I have certainly assured that when my hair gets longer, i get a migraine like headache will visit lasts until i cut my hair.Some thing puzzle to my life…

  16. Bureinato says:

    I have medium length, thick, heavy, wavy, hair and about 2, 2 & half years ago I got it cut short. perhaps 2-3 inches long all around. It didn’t change my headache(s) and I hated, hated, hated it. So I grew it back, which took about a year – year & half.
    It’s cut so most of the time I don’t need hair clips, and when I do use them I rotate them, don’t use them all day, change them up during the day.

    I figure I at least proved to myself short hair doesn’t make a difference and I am never going back to a little orphan Annie cut.

  17. rodger says:

    I shaved my head completely and its amazing. Probably the best decision I’ve made in my life.

    Haven’t had a single headache since.

    I think it might be related to temperature of the brain, since migraine is essentially inflammation of the brain, at least for me, when I used to have then my forehead would burn, and layer of hair acts like thermos, trapping the heat.

  18. Amy H says:

    I tend to migraines more often when I neglect my haircuts. My hair grows longer and thicker. It will hurt each time I wear a ponytail and only after a few hours. When I get my hair trimmed regularly I notice the migraines don’t tend to come as often. It’s strange. Even if I wear my hair down after a few days of it being up, when I neglect the cuts, my head will scream with pain. I may just be silly but I truly believe hair maintenance helps.

  19. kathy says:

    I keep my hair really long and yes it makes the pain worse. I did have shorter hair (hated it) it caused just as much pain. I do find braids are the best they seem to take the weight off my head. Either way the pain will be there you just find ways to live around it.

  20. santanna says:

    At 20 I have chronic migraines do to my long and very thick hair. I have found that cutting it short ever year or 2 tends to help a lot along with putting it in piggy tails. The last time I cut my hair it was to my bum and I had to cut off 15+ inchesand have it thinned out to finally get relief from the head aches. And yes it really does help especially if your hair is super thick. Hope you have found a cure to your headaches by now.
    Good luck.

    • Santanna, thanks for sharing your experience. I’m glad you’ve found some relief.

      Take care,

      • Mayra says:

        I’m gonna try cutting my hair tomorrow I have an appointment. I feel like a tingling burning pain in my scalp/head and my neck is tired my shoulders. I have always been told I have thick hair. My hair is to my butt. So I’m hoping to find my relief. I usually can feel a lighter feeling when I cut my hair. I’m praying it helps I’m so miserable right now.

  21. maylea says:

    yes i do think long hair does cause Headache once it reach to almost touching the chair ive been having them i cant even wear my hair up anymore.

  22. JoEl says:

    I have very thick hair and is past my waist. I have had two major hair cuts over the past ten years that made absolutely no difference in the frequency or severity of the migraines. I do find that putting it up when my head hurts seems to help unless I try taking it down while I’m still in the midst of a major episode. Then I feel like someone is ripping the skin off of my skull. Other than that, my hair doesn’t seem to be a factor.

  23. Vickie says:

    How do i deciede if very short hair would help me?I had it buzzed and seemed to help would you recomend dioing it again?What do I tell people why my hair is so short?

    • Vickie, if it seemed to help you before, then there’s a good chance it will help you in the future. You can get a very short pixie cut instead of buzzing it. In either case, if people ask why you’re hair is so short, you can just tell them you like it that way. Best of luck in finding some relief.

      Take care,

  24. Vickie says:

    any soments on very short hair helping headaches wouldbe great

  25. Annie says:

    I’ve just about always had long hair. About five years ago, I cut it short & kept it that way for a few years. I started letting it grow back out three years ago. I’m 37 now and I’ve had migraines since for 26+ years.

    My migraines began increasing last year & by October, they were chronic. I had 25 migraibe days in November alone. My hair, which is very thick and grows very fast, was about midway down my back when I got about half of it cut off two weeks after Thanksgiving. I also got a pair of Theraspecs around that time. I noticed a 40% reduction in migraines in December, which I attributed to wearing the Theraspecs. I’ve noticed the migraine increasing in frequency in the past week and I’m considering the possibility of my growing hair being the cause of it. Heavy hair is something I’ve considered as a headache trigger for years, but I’ve never thought about asking my doctor. Perhaps a new drastic cut is in order for me! Although my scalp isn’t sensitive, I think just the weight of the hair pulling on my scalp may be the issue. And I love my hair short! I’ll be sure to comment again if I do go through with the cut and let you know if it helps again!

    • Annie, thanks for sharing your experience. I’m so sorry you’ve recently entered into chronic migraine. I hope you find relief soon. Please let us know if cutting your hair helps. You might find you have a seasonal variation in your migraine frequency as well.

      Take care,

  26. jessie peters says:

    Most definitely in my case. very thick hair to the top of my rear end..And just as in the comment a bit above me when i straighten my hair my neck feels like it will break. so i keep it curly and usually will just ball it up on the top of my head so it isn’t pulling at the back of my scalp….BUT that also puts pressure on my head which sounds funny. It is just hair right? feels like a small child dangling from the back of my head LOL. I do not like short hair on myself so I keep it long also..seems like im just torturing myself..So after all that jabber yes I think it does contribute to my frequent migraines and cluster headaches

    • Jessie, thanks for sharing your story. Allodynia is the name of the migraine symptoms that makes it feel like your hair is hurting during a migraine attack. It seems so weird, but is totally normal! I also have thick hair. Before I cut it off, I’d have my stylist take out a lot of the weight. Thought I’d mention it in case that would be an option for you.

      Take care,

  27. Tracy Byrd says:

    I appreciate all the comments. My daughter has been suffering from migraines since Feb 6th. She is 10 and in 5th grade. She had hair down past her bottom about 3 inches and it is very thick.
    We did get it trimmed and she looks really cute but is still missing about 3 days a week from school. She does have alapacia and cries when tangles are brushed out. I’m thinking about thinning it and trimming it again for summer. I hope it helps her.
    We have an appointment with a neurologist but not until June!

    • Tracy, I hope the visit with the neurologist was helpful for your daughter. While cutting one’s hair may provide some relief, the underlying issue (of migraine) remains. I’m glad you’re pursuing further treatment and wish you and yoru daughter the best.

      Take care,

      • Tracy Byrd says:

        Thank you! She is on 4 supplements and has a combination she takes on the onset of a headache and mst of the time they go away. She has had very few headaches since she started this late May. I am greatful for your response and for caring!

  28. Jacob says:

    I have short hair it’s like a number 6 guard. And I have severe headaches daily through out the day. When I cut it. Usually to a number 4 it doesn’t help. Any tips out there ??

    • Tracy Byrd says:

      My daughter takes supplements that reduce the swelling on the brain migraines and has been very successful! I can give you thge names of them if you would like!

  29. Mayra says:

    I would like the names please

  30. Syl says:

    I had long hair the majority of my life. My hair is naturally curly and extremely thick to the point that I have had to get it thinned out at least every other month for the past 18 years. Every single one of my hair stylists that I have ever had couldn’t believe the thickness. I had beautiful hair, but I could never wear it up due to horrible migraines. If I didn’t get it thinned out enough, the migraines wouldn’t stop. I slept with ice packs every single night for several months, and decided that I couldn’t take the pain on my scalp anymore. I started going extremely shore until finally I had a pixie cut. BEST FEELING IN THE WORLD!!!!!! It was the most freeing experience. I’m letting it grow in, but my friend just shaved the back of my head today and it feels so good. I know this doesn’t work for everyone, but I have also thinned out my hair myself for the past ten years. I do what I can to prevent the major migraines. I have noticed that over the past year I have had less migraines and I no longer have to sleep with ice packs. People always tell me that I had the most gorgeous long hair and they ask why I cut it. I just don’t care anymore. I just turned 37 years old and the migraines were too much of a nuisance. As soon as I notice the thickness coming in, I absolutely have to get rid of it. I don’t know if I’ll ever go back to long hair again. Thank you to all who have shared their stories on here. I’m glad I’m not alone! And to those who experience scalp pain because of their thick hair, I encourage you to do what you feel is best for you! Good luck everyone!!!!

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