Do Your Dreads Hurt? Here’s Why & How To Stop It!

Been considering getting dreadlocks but the fear of being in pain has stopped you in your tracks? I have done some research on whether dreads are meant to hurt and here is what I have discovered.

Installing dreads does hurt to an extent. This is due to the stylist pulling strands every now and then when creating the twists and is often compared to how it felt when a parent did your hair as a kid. However, there isn’t supposed to be lasting pain and if you are experiencing this, something could be seriously wrong.

Now that we are aware of the fact that getting dreads can sometimes hurt, it’s important to discover how to ease the pain so it isn’t a lasting experience.

How To Ease Dreadlock Pain

Now that we have taken a look at some of the causes of pain when it comes to dreadlocks, it is important to look at how we can ease this pain. Lasting pain can have a knock-on effect and cause complications that you really don’t want to have to deal with.

1. Prepare in advance for installation and maintenance.

Knowing that you are getting your dreadlocks installed or tightened and that it might cause some pain gives you a step ahead to prepare for this and hopefully lessen the amount of pain experienced in the process.

The first thing that you can do to lessen the amount of pain experienced is to wash your hair the day before. The reason why this is important is that washing your hair increases scalp sensitivity. Doing it the day before means that your scalp is not sensitive when getting your dreads installed/tightened.

Clean hair is also less tangled and much easier to work with. If you are getting dreadlocks installed for the first time, washing and detangling your hair the day before will make your stylist’s job much easier and your experience less painful.

You should also take some form of pain medication. Taking an over-the-counter pain relief tablet, according to your tolerance of pain medication, is a great way to numb your scalp just before working with your dreadlocks.

2. Get a massage!

Who doesn’t love a good massage? Massaging your scalp, neck, and back when experiencing pain caused by your dreadlocks is a great way to relieve some of the pain that you could be experiencing.

Massaging is incredibly effective as it increases blood flow in the affected area and also releases any built-up tension in that area that could be the cause of the discomfort.

To make massaging more effective, you could use a natural hair oil (slightly warmed if you want to increase the effectiveness) or 100% Aloe Vera gel on your scalp to loosen the tension around your roots.

3. Don’t go for touch-ups as often.

If you are getting your dreads maintained and tightened every few weeks, this is definitely the cause of your pain. Yes, there is definitely a need to have neat, presentable dreadlocks however the tightening process is really taxing on your scalp, and over manipulating your hair could cause some serious damage and pain.

Try to only get your dreads maintained every few months. This will ensure that your scalp gets some relief and allows for your regrowth to form on its own.

During this time, regular washing and separating can continue. However, it will definitely create some relief for your scalp and lessen the amount of pain experienced.

How To Prevent Dreadlock Pain

There are many reasons why you could be feeling some kind of discomfort or pain when getting dreadlocks installed, especially if you are new to the experience. Let’s get into some of the causes of the pain and what you could do to prevent them from being so painful:

Installing your dreadlocks.

Getting your dreads done is definitely not the most comfortable process. It involves a lot of tugging and is bound to cause some pain. If you are tender-headed, this experience might be a little worse than others.

For instance, if you can go 6-8 hours of pulling and tugging, which is quite an uncomfortable process, you could possibly complete your dreads on the first day. However, depending on the complexity of the method used and the individual’s tolerance for discomfort, this process can often be prolonged.

To prevent this, split installing your dreads into smaller sessions so you are never feeling intense pain for too long. The process of getting your dreadlocks is a long one, sometimes lasting days or weeks. The length of this process is often determined by the individual’s pain threshold.

The first night’s sleep

It is quite obvious that if the installation process hurts, then sleeping on the first night after getting your dreadlocks is definitely going to cause discomfort and even some pain.

This is because your scalp is quite sensitive after being tugged at for a while. Also, due to needing to protect your dreads as you sleep, covering them or having something on your head could cause further discomfort due to the sensitivity of your scalp.

To prevent intense pain, massage your scalp gently with oil on your fingertips. This aids in releasing tension from your scalp. You can also take something for pain and use a cover to protect your dreads that aren’t extremely tight. This will avoid added tension.

Taking care of your dreads- the occasional tightening

If you have had dreads before, or know someone who has, you would know that your dreads need to be tightened every now and then to ensure that they are neat and that they do not come apart.

The process of tightening your dreads, just like installation, can be extremely uncomfortable and cause some pain. The pain is also increased if the dreads are tightened too much and too close to the roots.

To prevent intense pain, avoid tightening your dreads too much. This is a common mistake that causes major discomfort. You can also stretch your tightening over multiple sessions, just like installation.

Hair growth sometimes hurts

As we have already said quite a few times, there is a lot of pulling and tugging of your hair when it comes to dreadlocks. It doesn’t really matter what method was used to create the dreads, this is always going to be a factor. Pulling is definitely something that you will experience as your hair grows.

To prevent intense pain, avoid separating your dreads too often, as the new hair grows into the various dreads and this causes a little bit of a pulling effect. Occasional maintenance and separation are enough.

Mismanagement of your dreads

Everyone sort of assumes that dreads don’t require much care and you sort of just let them be. Although this is vaguely true due to them needing minimal care, you have to maintain your dreads.

To prevent intense pain, avoid neglecting your dreads for long periods of time. This can lead to extreme matting, especially along your roots. This looks super untidy and is extremely painful to sort out.

Missing wash days causes pain

Who would have thought that missing wash days could cause you pain? This is especially the case with dreadlocks due to the misconception that dreadlocks do not need to be washed often.

You could be experiencing pain, from not washing your dreadlocks enough, due to increased scratching. Build-up, left uncleaned on your scalp could cause severe itching. Scratching for temporary relief could result in an extremely sensitive and painful scalp, as well as abrasions.

To prevent intense pain, wash your dreads often enough to get rid of build-up. A build-up of natural oils and product on your scalp could cause sensitivity that leads to pain.


Hey, I’m Jodie, the gal behind CraftyHairHacks. I have a deep passion for hair extensions, hairstyles, and almost anything that has to do with hair, which leads me to the writing and research I do for this website daily. Our site is still small, however, we’re pushing to get the best hair hacks out to as many as people as possible. ENJOY!

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