Skin conditions

Scabs on Scalp: Causes and Treatment

Nidhi Nangia
By Nidhi Nangia. Updated: June 17, 2020
Scabs on Scalp: Causes and Treatment

Scabs are a result of the 'proliferative phase' of wound healing. This is when the cells which are able to heal the wound start to go to work. Having a scab on your head can be unsightly or even completely invisible, depending on the size of scab and length of hair. Some may be from mild cuts and abrasions, perhaps the majority. However, scabs can be a symptom of another underlying condition. Some of these are relatively benign, whereas some might be skin conditions which need specific treatment to eradicate. Some still might be something even more serious, even if this is less likely. Keep reading oneHOWTO to better understand scabs on scalp by reading about their causes and treatment.

You may also be interested in: The Best Natural Treatments for Scalp Psoriasis


  1. Causes of Scabs on Scalp
  2. Other causes of scabs on scalp
  3. Treatment of Scabs on Scalp

Causes of Scabs on Scalp

Scabs can be caused due to a number of contributing factors in your health and even your lifestyle. Some of their causes include:

  • Eczema: with this condition, some patches on your scalp become red, rough, itchy and cracked. This kind of seborrheic dermatitis is usually caused due to the excessive production of sebum, a natural oil secreted by your sebaceous glands on the scalp. Due to this overproduction of sebum, skin fungus overgrows and worsens your dandruff condition. This disease can be caused by a number of factors, such as climate, health, stress and genetics. Symptoms include greasy patches, red skin and dry flakes. No diagnosis tests are required, as your doctor will be able to identify the condition by examining your skin alone. In some cases, the doctor may scrape a little skin from your scalp, mix it with a certain chemical and examine it under microscope to identify any fungus.
  • Psoriasis: Psoriasis is a common caused of scalp scabs. These appear in the form of red and raised patches either as single or as multiple patches on different parts of the scalp. Sometimes, it may also spread to the neck, behind the ears and forehead. It is commonly attributed to disruption in immunity, due to which skin cells start growing too quickly and turn into patches. At first, scalp psoriasis is unnoticeable and very mild. Over time, it turns into thick crusted sores which can last for a while. Since they are itchy, excessive scratching may lead to hair loss and infection. Find out the best natural treatments for scalp psoriasis by reading our info on the subject.
  • Shingles: Varicella zoster virus is responsible for the cause of chickenpox. When this virus reawakens near your spinal cord in the clusters of your sensory nerves, it causes shingles. Shingles is a rash that starts out as red patches and develops into swollen patches filled with fluid. Usually, the lesions start rupturing and crusting in 7 to 10 days, indicating the end of the infection. However, it may take 2 to 4 weeks for complete recovery. Once the blisters dry up, skin scabs may be left behind which heal automatically within a week. Medicines may be prescribed to support the healing process.
  • Ringworm: Also known as tine capitis, this condition develops both in adults and children. This fungus is contagious and may transfer from one person to the other, from animals to humans, and even objects to humans. Scaly rashes develop on the scalp, and they are quite painful. Sometimes, they also develop into inflamed lymph nodes. Ringworm is a fungal infection and not actually a parasitic worm as some imagine.
  • Habitual scratching: Some people have a habit of scratching their head when confused, anxious, stressed, nervous or bored. By doing this, they bruise their skin and encourage the formation of lesions and sores. Controlling this habit is the best way to stay away from scalp scabs. But if you are scratching for a reason, such as lice, head nits, eczema or dandruff, then get them treated first. Avoid using products which cause irritation on your scalp, such as shampoos, hair oils and relaxers.
  • HIV: Because HIV weakens your immune system to a great extent, your body becomes vulnerable to several different types of infections and attacks. As a result, you may develop a number of skin disorders as well, such as scabies, warts and seborrhea. If you only have scabs on your scalp with no other symptoms, then it is probably not HIV. But if you have an overall deteriorated immunity, then it’s time to get your blood checked.
  • Cancer: In rarer circumstances, if the scabs on your scalp are bleeding, they may be signs of cancer. That is why, you should never ignore them. If your scalp scabs keep bleeding for over 4 weeks and do not seem to heal, then they need to be taken into medical consideration without fail. Scalp cancer is very dangerous, and has more fatality than other forms of cancer.

Other causes of scabs on scalp

In addition to these health conditions, there can be other factors that may lead to scabs on scalp, including:

  • Skin getting strained due to tight braids, perms and extensions.
  • Lesions that form along the hair that start bleeding and turn into scabs.
  • Itching due to lice.
  • Scalp oiliness, which become the birthplace for whiteheads, zits and pimples.
  • Sweat that plugs the pores with sweat, dirt and oil.
Scabs on Scalp: Causes and Treatment - Other causes of scabs on scalp

Treatment of Scabs on Scalp

If you suffering from scabs on your scalp, there are more than many ways to treat them effectively, both medically and non-medically. Here are a few treatment options:

Medical Treatment:

  • Topical antibiotic ointments like poly aspirin and Neosporin are very effective in treating scalp scabs. Scabs caused by fungus need anti-fungal medicines for treatment.
  • Prescribed OTC medicines are used for treating head lice. You may also remove head nits and lice from your scalps by keeping your head clean and following rules of hygiene. This will reduce itching, which will further prevent formation of lesions and scabs.
  • Use chemical free conditioners and shampoos only.
  • Use shampoos that contain pyridine, selenium, zinc and other such ingredients that are helpful in removing dandruff.
  • If your scabs are caused due to psoriasis, use a shampoo that contains salicylic acid. It will accelerate the healing process.
  • If you have an allergy, addressing this problem should relieve the scabs. If you are allergic to hair dye or bleach, then avoid using them. Antihistamines may be prescribed to keep the allergy under control.
  • If you have eczema, antihistamines may be helpful in relieving itching and allowing the condition to heal properly.

Non-medical treatment:

  • If your condition worsens only during the winter season, then you can relieve your condition by installing a humidifier. This will add moisture inside your house and stop scrabble and crusting of your scalp.
  • Massage your scalp with warm olive oil, leave it overnight and rinse in the morning using a moisturizing shampoo.
  • Picking and scratching opens up the wounds and lead to infection. Doing this also extends the healing time, thus making the condition worse and prolonged. So, avoid scratching the scabs to let them heal.
  • Aloe vera is a soothing gel that contributes a lot to cure scalp scabs. Apply an aloe vera gel or mask on your scalp to moisturize your dry scalp and eliminate any dry spots.
  • Mix equal parts of apple cider vinegar and water, apply on scalp, leave for 10 minutes and rinse off. It will restore shine and moisture to your hair, thus making them healthy.
  • Dip a towel in hot water, squeeze it properly and wrap around your scalp for 10-15 minutes. Steam will loosen up your scabs and let them fall out.

Of course if you are concerned that the scabs on your scalp are for something more serious, you should get them checked out by a doctor. Obviously treatments for conditions like HIV/AIDS and cancer will need a more thorough treatment. For less serious conditions, a dermatologist will be able to advise on the best course of treatment.

If you are scratching due to emotional or psychological issues, you might need counselling to overcome your nervous or compulsive habits. If this is the case, a trained mental healthcare professional should be able to guide you in the right direction.

This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Scabs on Scalp: Causes and Treatment, we recommend you visit our Diseases & secondary effects category.

Write a comment
What did you think of this article?
1 of 2
Scabs on Scalp: Causes and Treatment