Headache after Applying Oil – Causes, Triggers, and Management

Applying oil to the scalp gives stress-relieving benefits and peace of mind, especially when accompanied by a massage. Though relieving, it may often be presented with an after-effect of a headache. This headache is not something to worry about and is often relieved on its own after some time.

How does it feel like?

Headache after applying oil may be associated with symptoms like:

Symptoms may vary in intensity and may or may not be found altogether. These usually last for a short time period and vanish away as soon as the source of pain is removed.

What causes a headache after applying oil?

Headache after applying scalp oil may be a consequence of:

  • Allergens: The constituents of hair oil may not always be suitable for every individual. Any constituent of the hair oil that you are applying, if not suitable, may cause a headache.
  • Sensitivity: Applying oil to hair follicles increases their sensitivity. This increases the liability of hair to break and also may allow scalp headache to occur easily.
  • Massage: Applying oil to the hair scalp is often accompanied by massage therapy which may also result in headache.
  • Lack of hair hygiene: Greasy hair due to lack of hygiene may cause oil particles to coagulate onto the scalp enhancing the production of yeast. This may promote itching and irritation, which may also be associated with headaches.
  • Oil pulling: Oil pulling is considered to be a detoxifying technique and may be associated with symptoms including headache. This usually lasts for up to 3 days after which it fades out.
  • Sore scalp: Pulling too tight on hairs, scalp boils or inflammation may cause a sore scalp that may result in a scalp headache.
  • Coconut and olive oil: Though coconut and olive oil present us with a lot of benefits, application for a prolonged time duration may trigger a headache.
  • Doing a ponytail: Doing a ponytail after oiling your hair is not a good idea as it may trigger a headache. Applying oil increases follicular sensitivity allowing hair to pull out easily triggering scalp pain.
  • Deep tissue or forceful massage: Doing a deep tissue massage with an extra amount of force may cause a headache.

What may trigger a headache after applying oil?

  • Sleeping after applying oil: Stretch to hair follicles after sleeping with applied hair oil may trigger a headache.
  • Weather: Excessive heat or cold waves may trigger a headache.
  • Exercise: People suffering from migraine may get their headaches triggered by exercise after applying hair oil.
  • Strong fragrances in oil: Some people get a headache with strong aromas in their hair oil. Try preventing such oils if you are sensitive to such strong fragrances.



Experiencing sensations of restlessness, dizziness, light-headedness, and painful scalp or skull may be a diagnosis for such a headache. This may be accompanied by nausea and vomiting if seriously triggered.


  • Wash your head with shampoo
  • Taking a warm shower bath is recommended
  • Headache usually fades away with time. However, if persists OTC painkillers (e.g. paracetamol) can be used.


  • Headache resulting from irritants in oil may be prevented by keeping an eye on the ingredients you are allergic to. Try changing your oil.
  • People who have triggered headaches with strong scents may switch to oils with mild scents to prevent a triggered headache.
  • Doing a massage after oiling may be a good choice but with proper techniques. Deep tissue massage is not recommended but if needs to be done, pressure applied should be moderate and must be in coordination with the client and the massage therapist.
  • Avoiding any triggering factor that may result in a headache is the best possible prevention.

Home remedies

  • Hydrate yourself before and after the procedure
  • Take a warm shower bath
  • Try drinking a cup of tea
  • Snack yourself if you have a massage after applying hair oil.

When to consult a doctor?

Headache after applying oil to the scalp usually fades away as soon as the stimulus causing pain is removed. However, if it persists after removing the stimulus and does not fade away, it is time to see your doctor.


Can coconut oil give you headache?

Excess of everything is bad. Consuming or applying too much coconut oil and that too for a long period of time may result in headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, or other associated symptoms.

Why do I get a headache after oil pulling?

Though you may get headaches after oil pulling, it is considered to be a healthy activity as oil pulling detoxifies the body and mouth from fat-soluble toxins. Thus headache after oil pulling is common.

What are the side effects of oiling hair?

Oiling regularly to the hair is healthy but leaving it for longer durations might be troublesome and present with problems like hair fall, clogged pores, more dandruff, lack of hygiene, poor aroma etc.

Last medically reviewed on October 13, 2022.