Scabs on the scalp causes & treatments

scabs on scalp

Table of Contents

Scabs on the scalp are generally harmless and tend to clear up by themselves. In some cases, they can be the sign of a medical condition that may require treatment, such as contact dermatitis, head lice, or psoriasis.

What Is A Scab?

A scab is a small or massive patch of skin that is excessively drier than the skin around it. Other healthy regions on the scalp may be clean to the touch, while the scabs may be challenging and rough. Scabs may be small and far apart or numerous close patches collectively forming more extensive scabs.

Scabs On Scalp Causes

Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is an itchy, red rash. This is because of direct contact with irritants or allergens. Scratching the rash can result in scabs on the scalp. The response of the body to chemicals such as those present in cosmetics, hair color, or shampoo leads to call Dermatitis. Other elements triggering it include specific fabrics and jewelry, toxin ivy, etc. When you scratch, it may bleed and result in scab development.


Psoriasis, a long-term, chronic inflammatory skin condition, generally happens on the elbows, knees, trunk, and scalp. It causes thick patches of grey or silver scabs on the pores and skin that appear without scratching. A non-contagious skin problem, psoriasis impacts the skin anywhere on the body. When it impacts the scalp, the signs are thick scabs all over the scalp. The scabs might be white, silver or grey. Scalp psoriasis may also appear like dandruff flakes or appear as thick, crusty plaques covering the scalp.


Head lice are wingless bugs that stay on the human scalp and feed on blood. Bites from lice can cause itching on your scalp. Even though your head is probably itchy, scratching can cause wounds and scabs on the scalp. Head lice do not carry bacterial disease. Lice can be quite contagious as they can fly from one person’s hair to another. They need to be controlled and completely eliminated as it reflects poor hygiene and could cause issues socially. However, scabs on the scalp from itching may cause infection. 

Dermatitis Herpetiformis

Dermatitis herpetiformis is a skin condition that happens in people with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease. Many people sense a burning sensation before the bumps appear. The pink bumps and blisters form a scab and generally tend to heal within a week or two. However, scratching the blisters and spots also can cause scalp scabs. 


Eczema generally appears on visible regions of the skin. However, it could additionally appear in less easy-to-see places, inclusive of the top of your head. Scalp eczema causes itchy, dry, red, and infected skin and might additionally cause a burning sensation.

Seborrheic Dermatitis

Seborrheic dermatitis, a common skin condition of the sebaceous areas of the scalp. It causes patches of greasy skin that are blanketed with itchy white or yellow crusty, powdery flakes. Scratching these spots can result in scabs on the scalp. 

Dandruff or seborrheic dermatitis is among the most typical skin conditions that can trigger scabs on the scalp. Scabs and dry flakes that fall off and adhere to the hair are symptoms. Scabs might be yellowish or white. Seborrheic Dermatitis is not infectious. It is a myth that poor hygiene triggers dandruff; the precise cause is unidentified. Shampooing daily is likewise no warranty that you will not have dandruff.

Lichen Planus.
Lichen planus is a skin condition that triggers red or purple bumps. When it manifests on your scalp, the condition is called lichen planopilaris. It affects the scalp severely and causes hair damage. The hair damage gradually triggers long-term hair loss. Many people get lichen planus in their middle age. Typically, a skin biopsy is needed to identify the skin condition.

See: Home remedies for dry itchy skin

The virus that causes chickenpox can cause shingles, as it remains inactive in the body if you have had chickenpox. When it gets reactivated, it triggers shingles. They normally impact the skin but can impact the scalp too sometimes. Shingles resemble tiny blisters that end up being yellow and crusty with time. A shingles-related rash can be painful and might result in headaches or weak facial points. The condition may continue for several months.

Typically, acne triggers pimples and blocked pores on the face and in locations like the scalp where hair follicles are present. When they get blocked due to sweat, oil, dead cells, or bacterial infection, it might result in acne and scabs on the scalp.

Eosinophilic Folliculitis
A non-contagious condition, eosinophilic folliculitis, causes pus-filled sores that are itchy. When they heal, they leave spots of dark skin. This condition takes place when someone remains in an innovative phase of HIV. The scabs can spread and recur also.

OImpetigo is a common shallow bacterial infection of the skin. Streptococcus or Staphylococcus species are the typical causative organisms. The common type of impetigo reveals subcorneal collections of neutrophils, serum, and parakeratotic foci resulting in scab development. Symptoms consist of sores and blisters. The sores are typically scratchy and appear on the face and the location around the mouth. They might take place on the scalp or along the hairline too. It is an incredibly contagious condition and can spread out from a single person to another. It often occurs amongst more youthful children.

See: Acupuncture Treatment For Psoriasis

Home and natural remedies

There are numerous OTC hair shampoos and medications available, particularly to deal with head lice. Look for active ingredients like pyrethrin, and dimethicone.

There are numerous OTC hair shampoos, particularly for dandruff offered. Some medicated lotions and lotions can be used as a supplemental treatment. When you choose a hair shampoo to get rid of dandruff, try to find components like selenium sulfide, zinc pyrithione, salicylic acid, and tar. Dandruff can be managed, depending upon the intensity. It can take some months or even last a lifetime, though its strength and look may recede and reappear time and again.

Zinc pyrithione has antimicrobial, antifungal, and antibacterial properties that can help in the treatment of seborrheic dermatitis ( dandruff), acne, and scalp psoriasis. It can slow yeast growth, which is the main factor in causing dandruff.

See: Diet Therapy For Psoriasis

There are likewise prescription hair shampoos that contain ketoconazole offered in the market. However, those can change the feel and texture of your hair and cause irritation and itching. If these symptoms persist, talk to your skin doctor.

Some other home and natural treatments may also provide relief from the pain of scabs and sores.

Aloe vera gel

You can obtain this gel directly from an aloe vera plant or as an OTC product. To use, apply the aloe vera gel immediately to the affected region of your scalp.

Fish oil or omega-three dietary supplements

These dietary supplements may be found in tablet form. They may assist reduce inflammation in situations such as eczema and Psoriasis. However, the clinical proof is mixed. More studies are needed.

Tea tree oil

This natural oil may be found as a stand-alone product or as a factor of shampoos. However, it could cause an allergy in a few people.

See: Functional Medicine For Psoriasis

Other beneficial recommendations

Ensure to clean your hair and scalp often when you have scalp scabs. Here are a few recommendations that can be useful:

  • Wash your hair with shampoo each day or every other day till your signs subside.
  • While you’re treating your scalp scabs, attempt to keep away from any beauty or styling products that would worsen your situation.
  • If you’re using an OTC medicated shampoo, always follow the instructions on the packaging. You must leave the shampoo on for the recommended amount of time, so the active components can get to work.
  • Be conscious that shampoos containing tar could discolor light hair. So if you’ve got light-colored hair, you may need to try other products first.
  • Talk to your doctor.

Scabs On The Scalp Prevention

Many reasons for sores and scabs on the scalp, inclusive of Psoriasis, aren’t contagious. And even as medicinal drugs and lifestyle treatments can help control signs of skin situations, such as Psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis, they can’t prevent them entirely.

Some different causes of scalp sores are preventable. A few techniques include:

  • washing hair often to prevent pimples and decrease the risk of scalp infections after an injury
  • using a shampoo that doesn’t worsen or dry the scale 
  • making children wash their hands often and avoid close touch with children who’ve infections
  • seeing a health practitioner for scalp issues that don’t go away on their own

See: Naturopathic Medicine For Psoriasis

Is It Bad To Pick Scabs On The Scalp?

An itchy scalp may be because of many things; however, none is solved by scratching it. On the contrary, picking at scabs on your scalp is only likely to make matters worse.

Why? Because the picking and scratching are doing numerous unhelpful things:

  • Weakening the hair shafts, leading to damaged or fragile hair
  • Damaging the scalp even as it is trying to heal, leading to healing taking more prolonged and the damage getting worse
  • Increasing the possibility of infection

See: Yoga For Psoriasis Treatment

Other Symptoms To Look Out For

White/Yellow Scabs: Excess use of thick conditioners, ointments, or other products can trap moisture in the surface of the scab and develop pus, making it seem white. Yellow scabs, on the opposite hand, are an illustration of infectious pus already formed in the scab, which could grow to be sores or scabs.

Green Pus: There is a cause for concern if green pus comes out of your scalp scabs, as it signals an infection.

Hair Loss: If you start getting hair loss on the spots on your scalp where you spot pink and crimson bumps and scars, seek evaluation, as it could be because of a scarring hair loss.

Scabs On The Same Spot: Getting scabs on the same spot on your scalp over and over again can be a symptom of melanoma and needs to be dealt with immediately.

See: Foods for clear healthy skin


Minor scalp issues, like itchy scalp or dandruff, may be controlled without difficulty with the regular use of good dandruff shampoo. If it’s dandruff, you must see improvement within three weeks. However, with timely treatment utilizing OTC or prescription shampoos and medications, scabs on the scalp can be controlled prior to triggering further damage. If you suspect it is probably something aside from dandruff, you must go to your dermatologist for a treatment plan to be on the safe side.

1. Seborrheic dermatitis. (n.d.) https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/scaly-skin/seborrheic-dermatitis
2. Head lice: What parents need to know. (2017, March 17) https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/from-insects-animals/Pages/Signs-of-Lice.aspx
3. Contact dermatitis. (n.d.) https://nationaleczema.org/eczema/types-of-eczema/contact-dermatitis/
4. Scalp psoriasis. (n.d.) https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/hair-and-scalp-problems/scalp-psoriasis
5. Cysts. (n.d.) https://www.aocd.org/page/Cysts
6. Gonzalez, M. E. (2017, March). Seborrheic dermatitis https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/dermatologic-disorders/dermatitis/seborrheic-dermatitis
7. Psoriasis – a simple explanation. (n.d.) http://www.papaa.org/psoriasis-simple-explanation
8. Impetigo. (n.d.) https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/contagious-skin-diseases/impetigo
9. Folliculitis. (n.d.) https://www.aocd.org/page/Folliculitis
10. Keri, J. E. (2017, February). Acne vulgaris (acne) https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/dermatologic-disorders/acne-and-related-disorders/acne-vulgaris

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