Red Scabs on Scalp Won't Heal, Cancer, Picking and Eating them

A scab on scalp may be itchy or not. It could also affect a child or an adult. Most of the causes of this itchy and mostly uncomfortable condition can be avoided. We explore scabs from bleaching or hair dye, causes of picking on scalp scabs and eating them, why they won’t go away, bleeding and treatment as well as how to tell the signs of cancer scabs.

Scabs on scalp

Before we proceed, do you know what scabs on scalp are? Scabs form when blood platelets gather around an injured part of the skin to prevent bleeding. When exposed to the air, they react to form tiny thread like mesh referred to as fibrin. It is this mesh that hardens and dries up to form a scab on the skin.

Scabs on scalp can be seen as raised crust patches which could take a red, white, green or black coloration. Some cause a lot of distress due to itch while others are not itchy. In some cases, the cause may be obvious while in others they may seem to appear randomly thus requiring investigation on the cause.

Symptoms of Scalp Scabs.

At times, scabbing on the scalp skin can be a menace. It could see you experience hair loss, infections, bleeding or having discharge. Before it gets to these severe signs, though, you will have noticed other symptoms of scabs on scalps earlier. These include:

Red, Yellow, Green or White Crusts on Scalp

Scabs begin to form are the skin has been injured. White crusted scabs indicate the presence of pus. It could also occur due to moisture being trapped within the crust. Where the scabbing is as a result of an infection, the crust will appear yellow or green. Red crusts occur where bleeding was involved and forms as blood starts to clot.

Pus or Clear Discharge

Pus forms when white blood cells get to the point of injury and start fighting infections. As they are destroying microorganisms, white pus forms. This could go away as healing progresses. In case there is continued infection, the pus may appear green.

Scabs on Scalp Causes         

Scabs on scalp issues can be caused by many different reasons. To effectively get rid of them for good, it is important to understand their causes. Below we get into the details.

1. Head Lice

When one suffers a head lice infestation, it comes with excessive itch that results in severe scratching. This then leads to the scalp getting hurt and at times bleeding. It also results in formation of painful sores. All these could result in crusting and scabs on the scalp.
Lice require thorough treatment. Fortunately there are over the counter medicated shampoos that you can use to get rid of these bugs.

2. Ringworm Scabs

The ringworm causing virus can affect various parts of the body. When it occurs on the scalp, it is known as Tinea Capitis. It results in an itchy scalp that worsens with time. The scabs forming on the skin tend to take a circular shape with a clear and unaffected middle part. Scalp ringworms may lead to formation of a kerion, a pus filled sore on the scalp that is quite painful.

3. Folliculitis

Folliculitis occurs when fungus, bacteria or a virus infect a hair follicle. It results in pimple like painful red bumps which may or may not have a white head. With time, these sores become crusty and develop scabs.
In addition, oily scalps may be vulnerable to greasy scabs. These may be preceded by whiteheads, zits or pimples that normally form when the hair follicles on the scalp get clogged by excessive sebum, dirt and sweat.

4. Psoriasis

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease lasting for a long duration. It usually occurs on the whole body and will therefore be evident in other parts of the skin. A person affected by scalp psoriasis will experience red flaky skin that is itchy. Excessive scratching could see the skin bleeding and cause scabs on the scalp. 

Treatment usually requires a doctor’s advice. To get rid of psoriasis scabs on scalp may involve the use of medicated shampoos. These can be prescribed by your dermatologist.

5. Seborrheic Dermatitis

This is a mild form of eczema with its symptoms mostly worsening during the summer. Also commonly referred to as dandruff, this form of dermatitis results in itchy patches on the scalp. They may appear scaly and can ooze and scab with time. Dandruff is common in natural hair as it is in one that is not. Treatment may include medicated shampoos.

6. Contact dermatitis

This occurs as a result of allergic reactions mostly to products meant for hair care. When the scalp reacts to products it comes into contact with, there is skin inflammation, irritation, redness and a burning sensation. At times, open sores that form scalp scabs will form. Among items that can result in contact dermatitis include soap, shampoos, hair dyes and relaxers.

7. Lichen Planus

According to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology, lichen planus is a common skin disease that comes in episodes that could last from months to years. It occurs as a reaction to various provoking factors such as autoimmune disorders, genetics, stress and even viral hepatitis C. 

Lichen planus scabs on scalp appear as shiny flat topped bumps with an angular shape. Their scaling tends to be quite fine and will look shiny with a reddish-purplish color.

8. Scalp Infection Scabs

These may be fungal or bacterial. They could result in formation of scabs on the skin. In addition, the scabs themselves could get infected resulting in scabs that do not heal until the infection is addressed.

9. Scabs from Hair Styling

Some hair styling procedures are not gentle on the scalp and could see the skin forming scabs. Tight weaving, braiding as well as extensions exert excessive pressure on the scalp. This results in formation of pimply sores that scab with time. In addition, too much heat on your hair could cause burns on the scalp and result in scabs.

10. Sunburn Scabs on Scalp

A sunburned scalp will be flaky, form yellow crusts as well as itch. At times, it could result in loss of hair. It can happen to a bald head as well as to an unshaven scalp. A sunburned scalp could get overly painful especially with formation of the scabs. It is best avoided by wearing a hat when spending time outdoors.

Scabs on Scalp after Bleaching or Dying Hair 

While dying or bleaching hair, it is important to know what side effects might come along with it. This is more so where you are conducting the procedure at home. If you can, have your hair done by a professional.

The level of burns your scalp endures during bleaching depends on the amount of peroxide used, how close to the roots the professional gets as well as how dark the hair getting treated is. According to Brittan White, a celeb hairstylist as quoted in, people that start off with dark hair require two rounds of bleach to get to white blonde or platinum look. In such cases, the likelihood of burning are quite high.

Following the burning, inflammation, itch and scabs on scalp after bleaching are eminent. If this happens, avoid scrubbing them off with shampoo but instead give your scalp some time to heal.
On the other hand, hair dye burns scalp scabs are also possible. In addition, hair chemicals such as relaxers and texturizers could have the same effects. This is more so where the manufacturer instructions are not followed and where the products are let to stay on the scalp for too long.

Scalp scabs that result from minor irritation and redness can be cared for at home. However, in case of blistering and open wounds, you will need to seek emergency treatment. Be keep with various hair processes to avoid scabs on scalp emanating from chemical burns.

Red Scabs on Scalp That Bleed     

Having scabs on the scalp could cause the skin around them to turn red. In addition, the conditions leading to scalp scabbing could contribute to the reddening of the skin. Eczema is usually seen as small red or brown colored patches. These are usually excessively itchy. Psoriasis on the other hand leads to scabs on scalp seen as thick, dandruff like scales that are not only dry but red to. Any scabs that bleed without further injury being exerted on them should be checked by a physician.

Scab on Scalp Keeps Coming Back, won’t Go Away and Never Heals

In some cases, people will experience scabs on scalp that keeps coming back or never heals. This could be caused by frequent picking on the scalp. Additionally, continued exposure to products that the scalp is sensitive to could make the scabs to keep coming back as well as delay their healing.

A scab on scalp that won’t go away, keeps coming back or recurring and never heals, seek medical attention as in addition to the above, it could also be a sign of skin cancer on the scalp. Have them checked so that intervention can be done early enough.

Scabs on Scalp or Cancer  

It is possible for the scalp to get melanoma. According to Cancer Research UK, the symptoms may include:
  • A spot or sore that doesn’t heal within four weeks. In addition, any spot that gets itchy, crusty, scabs over and bleeds for over four weeks should be checked.
  • An ulcer that doesn’t seem to heal
  • Scalp scab lumps that are slow growing, pink, red or shiny.
  • Red itchy patches on the skin that won’t go away.
In addition, the Skin Cancer Org recommends that you know the ABCDEs of cancer which can serve as warning signs of melanoma. These include:
  • Asymetry
  • Borders being uneven
  • Color variation
  • Diameter larger that an eraser
  • Evolving or changing in size, color, shape, elevation and any other symptom.
To eliminate the chances of scabs on scalp being skin cancer, see your doctor whenever you notice any of these changes on any scalp scabs and bumps as well as when you feel concerned.

Picking Scabs on Scalp and Eating Them 

Scalp scabs picking when done in moderation may be caused by an urge to get rid of the scabs as well as a belief that removal of the scab hastens healing. However, some people get overly obsessed with picking scabs, a condition known as dermatillomania or excoriation disorder. 

If you keep picking scabs on scalp so bad that it results in you holding back from social interaction, results in skin disfigurement or scarring, then it is probably dermatillomania. The condition is mostly associated with obsessive compulsive disorder, stress and anxiety. Treatment can be offered by a behaviorist professional.

Scabs On Scalp Treatment  

How long do scabs take to heal? This is a common question among people experiencing scalp scabs. How long they take to heal is determined by the cause as well as severity of the condition. Whether the scabs are itchy or not itchy may also determine how long it takes before they clear up. Itchy scabs may last long since the scratching injures the skin before it can heal. 

You can tell the scalp scabs are healing as they tend to darken. They will change color from red to brown or black as the injured skin progresses to heal. To hasten healing of scabs on scalp, here are some treatment options.

1. Medication

Topical treatments such as creams and ointments can be used to get rid of infected scabs. Polysporin or Neosporin are great and can be used to treat scabs resulting from fungal infections. Other relevant medication options can be used to get rid of associated symptoms. Corticosteroids can get rid of inflammation, calamine lotion soothe itch and antihistamines to get rid of the effects of allergic reactions on the scalp.

2. Warm Compresses

Treating the scabs using warm compresses allows them time to soak and loosen up making removal easy. Dip a clean towel in warm water and hold it on the scabs on scalp for about 15 minutes. Gently comb your hair after this to get rid of any loose scabs.

3. Hair Mask

A hair mask comes with many benefits to the hair and the scalp as well. It can help get rid of scab itchiness and work towards retaining moisture in the scalp. Use your favorite hair mask or make one at home by combining beaten eggs with fresh aloe vera.

4. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar rinses are known to be beneficial to hair health and will also benefit a scalp with scabs. Its antibacterial properties will fight off microorganisms. It will also get rid of associated itchiness. Use it as a rinse while washing your hair. You could also dilute it and use a wash cloth to dab some on the scabs.

5. Green Tea

If you are looking for a natural treatment or home remedy for scabs on scalp, try using green tea. This is especially effective in dealing with scabs on scalp from sunburns. It eliminates the pain and stinging sensation that comes with the burns. 

Where a large part of the skin is affected, you can steep the green tea and use it as a rinse on your head. Scabbing that occurs in patches can be treated by soaking a green tea bag and placing it on the area with scabs.

Remember that if you treat your scalp scabs and they don’t heal, keep coming back, become infected or they start bleeding, see your general practitioner for treatment and further evaluation.

List of References


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