You might experience a bit of discomfort as your stylist braids your hair, but you shouldn’t bring any of that discomfort home with you. Likewise, a DIY braid shouldn’t leave you with an aching scalp mere hours later. Typically, painful braids are too tight, and they need to be loosened to minimize the pain. Don’t resort to taking them out — a few home remedies can help naturally loosen too-tight braids and take the pressure off of your scalp.

The pain that accompanies cornrows, hair extensions or braids stems from the tension that the braid or weave puts on your hair and scalp. This tension can result in [traction alopecia](http://articles.philly.com/1999-08-16/news/254842201traction-alopecia-hair-african-american), a type of hair loss that is triggered by the braids, which pull on the hair follicles. Over time, traction alopecia can result in both temporary or permanent hair loss. However, minimizing your risk of this condition begins by loosening uncomfortably tight braids.

Painful braids don’t always mean you have to undo them and start all over. How you care for and style your hair can help reduce pain.