Scabs on Scalp (Red, Yellow, White): Causes & Relief Treatment When Itchy

How do they scabs and crusts form? Can you cure them? How are they related to cancer and hair loss?

Some scabs are itchy and others are not itchy. Some of them bleed and some do not. Here is some detailed information about the scalp sores, their causes, symptoms, and treatments as well as some home remedies.

What are scalp scabs?

Scabs are the swelling of the tissues on your scalp that is brought about by scratching your head, putting on tight braids and pulling your dreadlocks or any other kind of injury that you make your scalp go through. The scabs at times resemble dandruff and in other situations, these may lead to other conditions like psoriasis. When untreated, these may lead to itch and odor.


There are various reasons that can be suspected to cause scabs on scalp. It is from the understanding of the causes and symptoms, that the skin specialist doctor (dermatologist) can be able to establish the best diagnosis and treatment. The following are some of the causes:


This condition is scientifically called seborrheic dermatitis. When they occur, they come with such symptoms as itching and flaking, which are followed by the appearance of the crusty patches that seem to be white in color or yellow. Excess dandruff eventually makes scabs to appear. (Mayo clinic).

Severe dandruff makes the scalp skin become yellow with scaly pimples that appear around the hairline, behind the ears and the ack of the head. It is when the pimples rapture that the scabs come about. The eyebrows also end up being affected in some cases.

Tight braids, weave, perm and extensions

The way you style your hair goes ahead to affect the health and integrity of the scalp skin health. Tight braids, perms, weaves and extensions put so much strain on your scalp skin and hence make the hair to break. The hairline may end up bleeding and after that causing soreness and scabbing.

Lice and nits

These parasites do not cause the condition but bring about a lot of discomfort. As a result, you will end up scratching your head and thus soreness and scabbing. Besides that, you may contract infections on your scalp. When you have head lice, you will notice hives on your scalp and at times enlarged neck nodes.

Shingles and ringworms

Shingles are viral infections that are brought about by herpes zoster. When they appear, you will notice patches and some crusts. The scabs on scalp form when the blisters bleed and then dry up. On the other hand, ringworms are caused by fungi. The fungal infections are commonest in children because of the contact they have with others with the infection. The fungal infections form clusters that are called pustules around the area affected. The area then dries up and after scalp scabs and crusts form.

Psoriasis and Eczema

Psoriasis and eczema are different but the common denominator is that they both lead to the formation of scabs on scalp. Eczema makes your scalp to become irritated, form a red itch and itch so much. In the long run, you will realize flakes on your hair. The symptoms that you may also see include:

  • Scalp that itches
  • A waxy and greasy scalp
  • Scaly, flaky areas on your scalp

According to the information provided by Lindsey Marcellin, MD, MPH of the EverydayHealth, eczema really responds well to treatments but it is likely to recur. On the other hand, psoriasis will give symptoms of very red and raised patches. The patches form scales and then flakes. During the healing process, they form scabs on scalp.

Hair dyes

Hair dyes contain some chemicals that may cause irritation of the scalp and some itch. This is especially because of the allergic reactions to the dyes. The reaction starts with mild itching and afterwards leading to scabs. The commonest chemical that brings about this irritation is called paraphenylenediamine.

Lupus and HIV

According to The Lupus Organization in the United Kingdom, lupus brings about itchiness, peeling of the skin and redness. This, in the end, brings about scarring, hair loss and rashes that predispose the formation of the scabs.

HIV on the other hand which is a viral infection comes with other complications that eventually lead to scabbing. The virus weakens the immune system and then makes you vulnerable to many more conditions that affect your skin. The conditions that may arise include warts, molluscum, scabies, scaly plaques and seborrhea.

Scratching and itching

Continuous scratching of your scalp injures the skin. The skin breaks every time you thoroughly scratch your scalp. When the scabs heal, you are likely to get scabs forming. You can prevent this by using gentle products that are friendly to your hair.

Contact dermatitis

When you are touched by someone on your scalp, this might make you get an allergic reaction. This is the condition called contact dermatitis. Apart from that, there are materials like latex like the poison ivy and poison oak that may cause an allergy.

On the other hand, the ingredients that come with the chemicals that are used in the hair cause dry patches and that cause itching and then a burning sensation. This condition at the end of the day makes your skin to become more painful and itchy and when you scratch, the infection will spread making it hard to treat.

Oily scalp

If your skin is oily, then you are more prone to scabbing. Excess oil brings about pimples, whiteheads and zits as a result of the sweat pores getting filled with dirt. When the pimples itch you are likely to scratch and hence break your scalp.


The most identifiable thing about scabs on scalp is their crusty nature. However, there are other symptoms and signs that you can look out for. In most cases, the scabs can be infected, bleed and keep appearing and going as well. Below are some of the other different symptoms that you are likely to see:

Green pus on your scalp

The pus is normally a sign of an infection. It is an indicator that the white blood cells are trying to fight the underlying cause. The pus form as a result of the cells trying to kill the bacteria. The pus is likely to have a foul smell.

Hair loss or hair falling off

A condition that comes with scabs called lichen planus is the one that makes the hair to fall off. It begins as a red or purple small raised bump on your scalp. The condition makes the hair to fall off because it leaves permanent scars on your scalp. The cause of this condition is not well known.

White or yellow scabs

Moisture trapped under your scalp skin or pus forming under the scalp could make the scabs to appear white. They come as a result of using ointments and lotions that are not friendly to your scalp and hair.

On the other hand, yellow scabs indicate infectious pus on your scalp. As the infection goes on, sores may develop on your scalp. You should seek medical attention as soon as you notice the yellow scabs on your scalp.

Black, brown scabs

The red scabs may indicate or point out that there is a lot of irritation or an injury to your scalp. During the process of healing, the scabs form black and brown patches.

Other symptoms that can be pointed out include:

  • Swelling of your scalp
  • Thickening of your scalp
  • Burning sensation of the affected area of your scalp


According to the Cancer Research UK, the presence of scabs on the scalp could be an indicator of the scalp cancer. This, therefore, means that if you spot scabs on your scalp, you should visit the doctor right away for a proper diagnosis. Scalp cancer is rated as one of the fatal melanomas. For you to be able to know that a scab on scalp could be related to cancer, then look out for the following symptoms:

  • A spot on your scalp that itches and hurts
  • The scab bleeds for more than four weeks
  • Bumps that appear red or pink and keep growing and become shiny
  • Ulcers that recur appear on your scalp


The following are pictures that can give you a visual impression of how the scabs on scalp look like. A close examination by your doctor is necessary to rule out any other likely conditions that look like scabs before treatment.

Scabs on scalp


In order to deal with scabs on the scalp, you can use some topical antibiotic ointments available as over the counter medications. The best way to get rid of the scabs is however to treat the underlying cause of the condition. The following are some of the treatment options:

  • For dandruff, you can use over the counter medication that contains a compound called zinc pyrithione and selenium. These components keep the yeast under control.
  • In order to treat scabs that are brought about by psoriasis and eczema, you can treat them using shampoos that have salicylic acid.
  • For the scabs brought about by allergic reactions, you can get rid of them using medications known as the anti-histamine. These will help to reduce the itch and burning sensation

How to get rid using home remedies

Hoe remedies can also be very useful in helping you to reduce the itch and pain that comes with scabs on your scalp. They provide a soothing effect and end up giving you a very desirable outcome. They moisturize, humidify and supply your scalp with nutrients. They include the following:

Warm compress

This goes a long way to soften the scabs on scalp and as they soften, they reduce in size. Similarly, the compress helps to reduce the itchiness. The following is the procedure that you may adopt to achieve good results:

  1. Get a towel and then soak it in hot water on a bowl
  2. Squeeze any excess water from the towel
  3. Cover your head with the towel
  4. Leave your head wrapped for about 15 minutes so as to get the scabs soft
  5. Comb your hair
  6. Repeat this procedure daily for best results

Aloe vera

It helps to ease the pain and itchiness that comes about as it protects your scalp from any probable infection. Apart from that, it works as a very useful conditioner so as to supple your scalp with moisture. Similarly, it helps to make the pH of your scalp to be balanced. The procedure to use is as follows:

  1. Acquire a leaf of aloe vera and then extract the gel
  2. Spread the gel over your scalp using your fingers
  3. Leave your scalp with the gel for around an hour
  4. Rinse your head after that using a mild shampoo

Apple cider vinegar

It has both antibacterial and antifungal properties that will fight any bacteria or fungi predisposing the condition. More to that, it also helps to make the pH balanced and thus reduces the itching and dryness of your scalp. The following is the procedure:

  1. Obtain and mix two teaspoons of fresh apple cider vinegar with one cup of water
  2. Wash your hair using the mixture
  3. Massage the oil into your hair gently for a period of about five minutes
  4. Rinse your head using a lot of water
  5. Repeat the remedy at least two times a week

Tea tree oil

It contains antifungal, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that make it very useful. It can therefore treat the itchiness that comes with the scabs. More to that, it gives your scalp some cleansing and gets rid of any organisms that bring the infections. The procedure is as below:

  1. Get about 10 drops of teat tree oil and then mix them with ¼ a cup of almond oil
  2. After that, massage your scalp using the mixed oils and allow it 5 minutes to interact and take effect
  3. Thoroughly shampoo your hair using your regular shampoo
  4. Repeat the whole process 3 times a week

Extra virgin olive oil

Olive has great use in moisturizing your scalp and then treating dry scabs. The oil also has soothing effect according to the Mother Nature website. When you use warm oil on your scalp and then massaging it in, the oil soaks the scabs.

After applying the oil on your scalp, always cover it with a shower cap and then leave it overnight after which you wash off the oil in the morning. During the rinsing, use a moisturizing shampoo and then a conditioner.

Coconut oil

The oil soothes the scalp, unclog your pores and heal the scabbing scalp very fast. It would help you out if you carry out the following procedure:

  1. Warm about a ¼ cup of the oil
  2. Massage the oil into your scalp gently
  3. You can also use a wide toothed comb to ease the process
  4. Cover your head and leave it overnight
  5. After that, rinse your head and after that a moisturizing agent.

Lemon juice

It has astringent and antibacterial properties that will eliminate the scabs. To do this, you should mix some warm oil and about 10 to 15 drops of the juice in a bowl. After that, massage the mixture to your scalp and give it about 30 minutes to take effect.


This home remedy helps to reduce itch and treat any inflammation that results. For you to achieve this, combine some uncooked oatmeal with some water and then massage all over your scalp. Do this for about 10 minutes and then rinse your scalp. Carry out the procedure on a daily basis till the scabs on scalp disappear.

Sea salt

The salts mainly work to reduce the symptoms of the scabs. To do this, form a paste by mixing the salt with some olive oil. After that, go ahead to massage the paste into your scalp. Wash the paste from your head after about 20 minutes. Repeat the procedure two times a week till the scabs on scalp go away.

References and sources


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