That occasional tender spot on your head can have different causes other than trauma or injury.

“It’s happened to most of us,” begins Marc I. Leavey, MD, a primary care physician with 40-plus years of experience.

“You are brushing your hair or having a shampoo or rest your head back on a chair, and that spot hurts.

“You have someone look at it and they see nothing, but it hurts.

“Could it be a brain tumor?  Could it be a stroke?  Could it be where the alien probe was?  Probably not any of those.”

So what, then, causes a tender spot on your head to come and go if you haven’t been hitting your head?

Dr. Leavey explains, “Lacking a direct cause for a tender spot, such as being hit over the noggin with an object or suffering a fall, the vast majority of these pains are located in the relatively thin layer of skin and muscle that covers the skull.

“Unlike most other areas of your body such as the limbs or your trunk, pressing on the skin of the head directly compresses the tissue into the underlying, unyielding bone of the skull.

“That means that any disruption of the integrity of the skin of the head, no matter how minor, can be magnified in its effect due to this compression.

“Trauma could be so slight as to be unnoticeable to all but detailed inspection, and could be from an insect bite, a scratch from a brush or comb, an inflamed hair follicle, a pimple, or even a reaction to a hair product.

“I have had patients who rested their heads on hard surfaces for a period of time, reading or sleeping; and each awoke with a micro-bruise of the area, a tender spot without any apparent reason.

“Certainly, if you have an area of pain or discomfort, especially one without an apparent cause, you should seek medical attention to be sure that nothing more ominous is causing the problem.

“But be reassured that in the vast majority of such cases, the etiology is minor, the process is self-limiting and the discomfort normally clears in a short while.”

The tender spot on your head, don’t be surprised, feels like the same kind of tenderness you might feel in a specific spot on your shin, where that same pressure phenomenon can occur, since there’s not much “meat” between the skin and the shin bone.

Dr. Leavey was formerly with Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, MD, where his focus was primary care and internal medicine. He has a blog, STRING OF MEDICAL PEARLS.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.

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