Scalp Scabs: Causes, Symptoms and How to Heal

scalp scabs

Prevent scalp scabs and lead a healthy life

The skin layer gets damaged by persistent scratching and itching of the scalp, and it tries to heal itself from this damage and in this process ends up accumulating the blood and skin tissues together to form a crust on the scalp skin which is called scab. Itchy, frustrating and unsightly scabs gets worse with scratching and chances of infection gets increased. Noticing white flakes on your favorite shirt is the worst experience ever. This can mess your beauty game.

Scab on scalp looks like dandruff and forms thick crusts, which are very embarrassing. If you are experiencing dry scalp with the resulting flicking of the scalp, you must go for treatment, if scabs are not treated the condition might get accelerated. There are many possible ways to treat and prevent them. A person having scabs on scalp must know that there are many causes of this particular condition.

Self-diagnosis of this condition is tough, and thus it is recommended to consult an expert at the initial stage. Usually, the condition occurs if the scalp stops producing natural oils. Weather condition, air conditioners, allergies, unhealthy diet, irritants are some of the common causes of excessive dryness of the scalp. This article provides you with a guideline of the cause, symptoms, and procedure of prevention of scalp scabs.

Causes of scabs on scalp

These red, yellow patches or crusts on the head are itchy and also bleeds at times. If not treated the condition can get accelerated. Scabs are the representation of many scalp conditions like eczema, psoriasis, lice and others.


  • Eczema

A condition where patches of scalp skin become itchy, red, cracked and rough is called eczema. Seborrheic dermatitis is the most common type of scalp eczema which is caused by the production of sebum at a much excessive rate, when this natural oil secreted by sebaceous glands in the scalp is overproduced; it might result in scalp eczema. This overproduction results in overgrowth of common skin fungus called Malaysia, thus worsening the dandruff symptoms. Many factors contribute to the development of disease, like climate, stress, overall health, genetically factors.

Eczema_scabs scalp


This condition also has an involvement of the immune system is stated by the American Academy of Dermatology, because the disease is more common for patients with HIV. Seborrheic dermatitis occurring in infants is called cradle cap. Researchers prove that this condition is more common in men than women. The symptoms of Seborrheic dermatitis include dry flakes, greasy scales having reddened skin. Diagnosing Seborrheic dermatitis doesn’t involve any test. Your doctor will ask you about your medical history, and your doctor will perform a physical examination of your skin. Sometimes doctors scrape a bit of skin and examine it under the microscope after mixing it with a chemical to determine whether there is any fungal infection.


  • Psoriasis

Scalp psoriasis is a common skin disorder that is also responsible for the formation of scabs on the scalp. These red, raised patches sometimes pop up as a single or multiple patches all over the scalp. It sometimes spread to the forehead, behind the ear or neck. Scalp psoriasis varies from person to person. The exact causes of this type of condition have not been determined yet; doctors believe it comes from some disruptions in the immune system causing skin cells grow quickly and turn into patches.



It is estimated that more than 7.5 million Americans have psoriasis, this can affect any skin surface. Scalp psoriasis is mild and unnoticeable, but it can also turn into severe disease and lasted a long time causing thick-crusted sores. They are itchy and can affect your everyday life; scratching them a lot leads to infection and hair loss. Frequent hair loss is not caused by scalp psoriasis itself, but scratching, harsh treatment, stress that this condition brings along with it leads to hair loss. It is recommended that you visit your doctor or dermatologist if you have any symptoms.


  • Shingles

It is estimated by the centers of disease control and prevention that about 50 percent of Americans living to 85 years have had shingles at one point of their lives. The disease results from the reawakening of varicella zoster virus in clusters of sensory nerves near the spinal cord; the same virus is responsible for causing chickenpox. Shingles are responsible for causing the rash that begins as red, then turns into swollen patches of skin and soon become fluid filled blisters. In healthy people, these lesions rupture and crust between seven to 10 days thus indicating the end of an infectious phase of the disease. However, complete healing requires two to four weeks. After the drying up of these blisters present on scalp Skins scabs are left.


  • Ringworm

Ringworm also is known by the name tine capitis usually happens in little kids, but sometimes adults also face this condition. The fungus gets contracted from human to human, objects to human, animal to human. It results in painful and scaly rashes on the scalp, which sometimes develop into enlarged lymph nodes.

READ MORE INFORMATION ABOUT: How to get rid of a Ringworm

  • Cancer

Bleeding scabs on the scalp can be a sign of cancer and should never be ignored, has been reported by the cancer research UK. If the scabs and sores on head keep bleeding for more than four weeks without healing, then it should be taken care of. A report by suggests that scalp cancer is one of the most dangerous forms of cancer having more fatality rate than that of the speed of cancer forming in some other parts of the body.


  • Other causes

Skin gets strained by tight braids, extensions and perm, and breaks. The lesions forming along the hairline starts bleeding and soon turns into sores and scabs. Itching triggered because of lice, or ringworm infection of the scalp leads to scratching of head, which further results in the scabby and patchy scalp. Scrabbling can also take place on an oily scalp as well. The excessive oily scalp is the birthplace of pimples, whiteheads, and zits because sweat pores get plugged with dirt, sweat, and excessive oil. These itchy pimples encourage you to scratch, and thus the skin gets broken. It is always advisable that you consult a dermatologist who will treat you for the original cause of scabs like psoriasis, eczema, shingles and others. However, it is always good to go for prevention beforehand.


Symptoms of scalp scabs

Various skin and scalp problems are there; the occurrence of scabs on the scalp is one of them. This the initial stage may look like dandruff but later on develops into thick crusts which are very embarrassing, if not treated properly the situation gets aggravated and results in various scalp disease including cancer. Topical ointments cause sometime skin irritation on the affected area like redness, itchiness, and rashes, which can be a symptom of your underlying condition. If you notice white flakes on your shirt accompanied by itchiness, redness, and loss of hair then its time for you to visit a dermatologist. Crusty scabs are easily identifiable, but they don’t come with any specific symptoms. Here are some symptoms you from which you may know when its right time to visit a doctor for treatment.


1- White or yellow scabs on scalp

White scabs on scalp signify a pus might be developing or trapping of moisture within the crust. They can result from prolonged exposure of the scalp skin to thick ointments such as lotions, hair cream, and even conditioners. Yellow scabs, on the other hand, signify infectious pus formation in the crust. With the progress of the infection, the yellow scabs develop into sores. In case you see yellow scabs, you should go for treatment. Your doctor might prescribe a topical antibiotic or ointment so that you can get rid of the bacterial infection. Shingles sometime also cause yellow crust and blister which last up to about two weeks and then forms big patches of scabs.


2- Green pus cysts on scalp

The presence of pus, be it yellow, gray or green is a sign of infection. When white blood cells attempt to get rid of bacterial infections on the scalp, it results in the formation of pus. Pus usually smells bad. Green pus is a sign of an advanced disease.


3- Hair loss

Lichen planus is a condition other than ringworm that causes hair loss. Red and purple bumps appear on the scalp skin and leave permanent scars on the scalp.


4- Bloody, random scabs on head

Scratching or picking scabs leads to bleeding. Scabs are an integral part of the healing process when the skin is broken so picking at them open up the wound beneath and causes bleeding. If the scabs keep coming on the same spot or any random scribbling on your head should never be ignored because this can be a symptom of melanoma.


How to Get Rid of Scabs on Scalp

There is no need to treat scalp scabs if you are aware of the technique of its prevention. Avoiding the use of hair dye can be an effective way of preventing scalp scabs. If you want to dye your hair, it is suggested that you use a particular brand, which doesn’t use para-phenylenediamine, a specific ingredient triggering dry scalp. Always try to keep your scalp and hair moisturized. It is advisable that you moisturize your scalp on a regular basis with products that are mild and gentle.

Ask your doctor about an efficient and safe scalp moisturizer. In case you live in a place where there is the prevalence of cold temperature, having a humidifier in the house is the best option. This way you can prevent scalp scabs by adding moisture in your home. However, in case you are suffering from scalp scabs, here are some ways by which you can prevent them.


Treatment and medications for scalp scabs

  • Topical antibiotic treatments and ointments are used to treat infectious scabs on the head. Neosporin, poly asporin antibiotics are some of the medicines which are prescribed to treat scabs. Sores on the scalp that are caused by fungal infections can be treated with anti-fungal medications. Eliminating underlying cause can be the best way to remove the crusts. Here are some of the tips, cures, and treatments that you can consider.


  • Prescribed OTC medications should be used to treat head lice. You can also get rid of head lice and nits by proper hygiene and washing of the head. This helps to reduce itching, and thus scabs are prevented. Chemical free shampoo and conditioners should be used which will contribute to rejuvenating your scalp skin.


  • Use over the counter shampoos that contains ingredients like pyridine, zinc, and selenium to get rid of dandruff. Yeast growth on your scalp skin can thus be controlled by the usage of proper shampoo.


  • In case the small scabs on your scalp are the result of psoriasis, try to use shampoos containing salicylic acid; this will help you to get rid of the problem at a faster rate. If these don’t work, visit a dermatologist is advisable.


READ HERE: How To Get Rid of Dandruff Permanently


  • The cause of the allergic reaction should be fixed. For instance, if your bleach or hair dye causes itchy scalp, they should be avoided. You can also use anti histamine medications or medications for atopic dermatitis and eczema so that the itchiness can be reduced.


Best Home remedies and cures for scabs on scalp

Sometime home remedies and cures help to reduce the problem.Scabs occur when our scalp fails to produce natural oils. If you want to improve the condition, you must get rid of hair products containing harsh chemicals. Home remedies, proper moisturizing and messaging can help to restore natural oils back to the scalp.

1- Humidifier should be used in dry season

If the problem occurs only during winter or when there is dry air then the weather is the main cause of the problem. You can get rid of this issue by using a humidifier. This by adding moisture in your house will stop crusting and scrabble on your scalp.


2- Coconut oil and olive oil

You can also use extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil to treat the scab crust. Message your scalp gently with warm olive oil, after leaving it for 10 minutes or overnight rinse it well by using good moisturizing shampoo and conditioner. This home treatment helps to soothe your scalp.

3- Scratching and picking should be avoided

Scratching and picking these scabs will lead to infection by opening up the wound and thus the situation will get worse. Picking at them will lengthen the time of healing the wound. Thus, the clot should be allowed to form because it is a part of the healing process. This temporary skin on the crust helps to prevent bacteria from invading the area.

NO Scratching and picking


4- Use Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera works as an excellent soothing gel and thus contributes to curing scabs on scalp skin. The urge to scratch your head will be reduced by this gel. Aloe Vera hair masks and gels can be applied directly to the scalp skin. This natural ingredient has a variety of usage. It moisturizes dry hair and also has anti fungal properties, which ease dry scalp. Applying the gel to the affected area daily will eliminate dry spots.

5- Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar eliminates bacteria in clogged pores and thus helps to reduce dry scalp. It by softening scabs makes them slip off during the rinse. An equal part of water and vinegar should be mixed and then should be applied directly to the scalp, after leaving it for 10 minutes it should be rinsed off with cool water. It not only restores natural moisture balance to the hair but also adds shine.


6- Hot towel

After dipping a towel into the moderately hot water, squeeze it and wrap it around your hairs and scalp for 10-15 minutes. Steam helps to loosen up the scabs.


7- Lemon juice

10 – 15 drops of lemon juice should be added to warm oil and applied directly to the scalp. After leaving it for 30 minutes rinse it well with shampoo and conditioner. It consists antibacterial property and astringent that will help you to get rid of the scabs.

Regular oiling of hair using virgin olive oil or coconut oil, usage of conditioner after shampoo, applying excessive hot water on the scalp is some of the best ways to prevent scabs.

Scalp sores being one of the most painful skin conditions require the most efficient treatments. This depressing skin condition leads to hair loss, but with the advanced medical technologies, healing this condition has become easy and fast.

Contact a dermatologist if you see any above symptoms arriving, your doctor will prescribe you the right treatments for your scalp. First and foremost try to avoid harmful chemicals and try to use a fantastic shampoo, which can rejuvenate your scalp and will make you stay healthy and beautiful. Self-diagnosis of this type of scalp condition can be tough. If you are facing any above-mentioned symptoms, don’t waste time and consult a dermatologist at the initial stage. Prevention is always better than cure.

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