Many of us go through changes in our skin and hair, which can be attributed to various factors such as hormones, diet, and the use of cosmetic products. Identifying the root cause of these changes can be challenging, but there is often a correlation between hair and skin. By examining this connection, we can gain insight into some of these developments.

When we talk about our skin, we have to mention our scalp and the changes it could go through. It would help us to take a further look at the various causes of scabs on scalp. A better understanding of the pathogenic pathways, like inflammatory events, can provide insight. It’s also important to investigate the ways that daily activities may contribute to scabs, such as using certain shampoos or hair-drying techniques.[1]

Once we’ve looked into the causes of scabs on your scalp, you can be better equipped to take actions to combat this, like changing your diet, spending time in sunlight, and using protective products.

What are Scalp Scabs?

These sores on the scalp may appear as pimples or bumps that resemble acne. These are lesions or protrusions that result from bacterial growth or infections. When this happens, the bacteria can infiltrate the hair follicles and hair shafts. The pus that gets released can build up into pimples, cysts, or scars.[2]

Can Scalp Scabs Cause Permanent Hair Loss?

There is a relationship between itchy scalp and hair loss, as prolonged infection can cause your hair to become damaged. Often, bacteria and other infections can penetrate the keratin proteins and leave your hair brittle and prone to breakage.

In some circumstances, permanent hair loss may occur if lichen planopilaris has developed. These bumps on the scalp can cause permanent scarring and lead to alopecia, which results in the permanent loss of hair.[3]


What Causes Scabs on the Scalp?

1. Contact Dermatitis

If you have an itchy scalp with bumps, it could be due to contact dermatitis. This is a response to a substance that you’ve touched or had contact with, like hair dye or certain shampoos. This condition is marked by an inflammatory reaction to irritants. When these chemicals come into contact with your skin’s barrier, they may undergo enzymatic transformations and develop into allergens or irritants, which can cause burning and itching rashes on your scalp. Constantly scratching the itchy rashes will create open sores and scabs.[4]

2. Seborrheic Dermatitis

Seborrheic dermatitis is another name for dandruff and is a chronic type of eczema that can manifest as red spots on the scalp. Many culprits are considered to be the cause of this condition, with one being the fungus Malassezia.[5]

Due to this, the excessively oily parts of your scalp are targeted, which leads to itchy patches on your scalp. There is a subsequent accumulation of flakes that become scabs when scratched repeatedly.

3. Scalp Psoriasis

If you’re experiencing intense scalp pain, it could be that your scalp scabs are caused by scalp psoriasis. This disease is inflammatory and is characterized by lesions on the scalp. Often, there are high levels of histamine present in individuals with scalp psoriasis, which drives allergic and immune reactions. The elevated histamine and inflammatory cytokine levels cause itching of the skin, including on the scalp.[6]

Often, there may be a compromised skin microbiome. Not only is this pertinent to your skin but also to your overall health because the skin is considered to be an organ and serves as an initial point of contact with the immune system. In the case of scalp psoriasis, fungi and bacteria infiltrate the immune system and colonize the skin, which in turn become patches and lesions.[7]

4. Ringworms of the Scalp

Ringworms of the scalp can leave you with scabs caused by fungal infections. It is a highly contagious condition commonly seen in children but it has been observed in older populations as well.[8]

These irritated bumps become scabs as they are constantly scratched. The physical appearance of these bumps and scabs evolves as the bumps form large circular rings enclosed by red burning skin. You may find that the hair within the ring has a brittle texture and is prone to breaking off, which ends in hair loss.

5. Head Lice

You may be asking yourself, “Why does my scalp hurt?” and the answer could be head lice. Head lice are insects that move around your hair and invade your scalp, and suck your blood for survival.[9]

As they feed on blood, their saliva infiltrates the scalp and produces and triggers an inflammatory reaction that causes a lot of itching and scratching. The scabs that develop are susceptible to becoming infected. Head lice can be easily passed on from one person to another.

6. Planopilaris

As previously mentioned, planopilaris is linked to an itchy scalp and hair loss due to the connection to alopecia. This condition is described as a lymphatic disease and is driven by inflammatory actions.[10]

Notable features of this condition include dense follicles and excessive production of sebum, as well as skin scaling that sets off frequent scratching. The immune system is targeted, and adverse microbes target the scalp, which can lead to the collapse of the follicle stems.

7. Shingles

If you’ve experienced shingles, which results from infection via the zoster virus, then you may have withstood a painful skin rash impacting your skin and scalp. Blisters and scabs will form, and they hurt to the touch, making hair brushing and maintenance difficult. After a few days, the rash loses its infectious nature, leaving lesions and crusts as residual.[11]

8. Eosinophilic Folliculitis

This scalp and skin disorder isn’t very common and isn’t contagious. Like some of the other conditions mentioned, this disorder is inflammatory, and though it’s not infectious, it is mostly seen in immunocompromised populations. The bumps that appear are often red and itchy and contain pus. After the rash begins to heal, there may be changes in pigmentation, and in some instances, the rash may recur.[12]

9. Dermatitis Herpetiformis

This condition, like eosinophilic folliculitis, is usually more prevalent in certain populations. You’ll mainly see this scabbing in individuals impacted by gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, so there may be pathogenesis related to IgA antibodies.

This is a chronic skin condition that may present on multiple occasions. In this situation, your scalp will feel like it’s burning, and it’ll be covered with itchy red bumps. Once the bumps and scabs clear, you may see new bumps forming after some time.[13]

10. Skin Cancer on the Scalp

Cancer that impacts the skin is the most common type, and it is related to ultraviolet exposure as well as the balance of the microbiota. It’s possible that fluctuations in gut microbiome, accompanied by ultraviolet exposure that may suppress your immune response, lead to inflamed skin. Areas that are vulnerable to sunlight, like the scalp, are the major targets, and your skin may change. If this is the case, you may notice patches and blisters on your scalp, and they don’t always heal.[14]

What can I Do to Stop Scratching?

It will benefit you to avoid scratching your scalp because agitating open scabs and sores will cause them to become infected. Hair loss may be exacerbated, and you may end up with permanent scarring in some places.

To avoid this, there are some remedies you can employ, and they’ll need to be tailored toward the condition behind the cause of the scabs so they can be effective. You can suppress the burning sensation and limit itching by taking advantage of sensitive skin shampoos, salicylic acid, and oils such as tea tree oil.

How to Treat Scabs on Scalp?

Helpful ways to treat scabs on your scalp include choosing the appropriate haircare products as well as your daily habits. You may benefit from using a medicated shampoo or gentle formulas. As you shampoo thoroughly, try not to massage your scalp aggressively.

Corticosteroids and creams are often used to dampen the itching and reduce the swelling. As mentioned before, salicylic acid can soften the lesion-like patches and break up any clusters of scabs.

Home and Alternative Remedies to Treat Scalp Scabs

1. Tea tree oil

Using tea tree oil will be a good decision because it has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. This can promote the beneficial bacteria that your system needs to support immune function. Also, inflammatory lesions can be soothed, and the reduced aggravation can lead to decreased itching and lessen the urge to scratch. Additionally, tea tree oil works to expedite wound healing.[15]

2. Aloe vera gel

Aloe vera gel has excellent soothing capabilities. With this gel, your scalp will be relieved by the soothing effects of aloe vera on the scalp, and the reduced itching will allow the scabs to heal properly. Consistent use of aloe vera gel can help to protect your skin and some scabs may clear up.[16]

3. Scalp Scabs Prevention Tips

To maintain healthy hair, avoid using harsh shampoos and rigorously pulling at your hair, scratching it, or twiddling with your hair strands.[17]

You could use the elimination method to determine which perfumes, detergents, or other fragrances can alleviate itchy scabs and which chemicals make them worse. Try using clear detergents and shampoos while also using hair products that don’t contain lotion.

Additionally, keep up with regular hair washing and establish a daily and gentle hair care regimen.


What do scalp scabs look like?

Scalp scabs can vary in appearance, looking like caked-up white flakes of dandruff, or red scars or scabs, often resembling open wounds. Some scabs may be ring or coil-shaped, and others can even appear as large cysts.

What kills scalp infections?

To kill scalp infections, use antifungal and antimicrobial shampoos. Topical ointments and antibiotics can also control infection-causing bacteria. You can also wash your hair with antibacterial products.[18]

Will hair grow back on scabs on the head?

In some cases, hair will grow back after the scabs have healed. In other situations, the hair either grows back slowly or does not grow back at all because damage to the hair follicles may render hair loss permanent. Among the causes of scabs that we discussed, those causes related to alopecia are most likely to result in permanent hair loss. You may be able to help stimulate hair growth by soothing the irritated skin.[19]

What deficiency causes scalp scabs?

Scalp scabs may be common in the presence of a B vitamin deficiency, like riboflavin, niacin, or vitamin B6. Deficiencies of these vitamins, along with zinc, may see your immune support wane, which ramps up inflammation. As a result, flaky scalp and dandruff are more likely to be present.


As we consider the causes of scalp scabs and remedies like tea tree oil that can help rehabilitate your hair, you’ll want to consider the Nufolix hair growth supplement because it replenishes vitamins and antioxidants that provide an immune boost, prevents hair damage, and promotes growth. You’ll want to use hair growth products that consist of herbs and antioxidant sources so they’ll promote a healthy scalp and strong hair.[20]


1] Rattanakaemakorn P, Suchonwanit P. Scalp Pruritus: Review of the Pathogenesis, Diagnosis, and Management. BioMed Research International. 2019;2019:1-11. doi:
2] Al Aboud AM, Crane JS. Tinea Capitis. PubMed. Published 2020.
3] Fechine COC, Valente NYS, Romiti R. Lichen planopilaris and frontal fibrosing alopecia: review and update of diagnostic and therapeutic features. Anais Brasileiros de Dermatologia. Published online April 2022. doi:
4] Johansen JD, Bonefeld CM, Schwensen JFB, Thyssen JP, Uter W. Novel insights into contact dermatitis. The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology. 2022;149(4):1162-1171. doi:
5] Dall’Oglio F, Nasca MR, Gerbino C, Micali G. An Overview of the Diagnosis and Management of Seborrheic Dermatitis. Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology. 2022;Volume 15:1537-1548. doi:
6] Papadimitriou I, Bakirtzi K, Katoulis A, Ioannides D. Scalp Psoriasis and Biologic Agents: A Review. Skin Appendage Disorders. 2021;7(6):439-448. doi:
7] Choi JY, Kim H, Koo HYR, et al. Severe Scalp Psoriasis Microbiome Has Increased Biodiversity and Relative Abundance of Pseudomonas Compared to Mild Scalp Psoriasis. Journal of Clinical Medicine. 2022;11(23):7133. doi:
8] Waśkiel-Burnat A, Rakowska A, Sikora M, Ciechanowicz P, Olszewska M, Rudnicka L. Trichoscopy of Tinea Capitis: A Systematic Review. Dermatology and Therapy. 2020;10(1):43-52. doi:
9] Apet R, Prakash L, Shewale KH, Jawade S, Dhamecha R. Treatment Modalities of Pediculosis Capitis: A Narrative Review. Cureus. Published online September 11, 2023. doi:
10] Pinto D, Francesco Maria Calabrese, Maria De Angelis, Celano G, Giuliani G, Rinaldi F. Lichen Planopilaris: The first biopsy layer microbiota inspection. PLOS ONE. 2022;17(7):e0269933-e0269933. doi:
11] Tull T, Morris Jones R. Common cutaneous infections. Medicine. 2017;45(6):390-395. doi:
12] Li Y, Nie R, Cao X, Wan C. Classic Eosinophilic Pustular Folliculitis in an Immunocompetent Patient with Syphilis: Are They Related? Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology. 2023;Volume 16:67-70. doi:
13] Antiga E. Dermatitis Herpetiformis: Novel Perspectives. Frontiers. Published June 11, 2019.
14] Woo YR, Cho SH, Lee JD, Kim HS. The Human Microbiota and Skin Cancer. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2022;23(3):1813. doi:
15] Nurzyńska-Wierdak R, Pietrasik D, Walasek-Janusz M. Essential Oils in the Treatment of Various Types of Acne—A Review. Plants. 2023;12(1):90. doi:
16] El-Gammal A, Di Nardo V, Daaboul F, et al. Is There a Place for Local Natural Treatment of Psoriasis? Open Access Macedonian Journal of Medical Sciences. 2018;6(5):839-842. doi:
17] Contact Dermatitis.
18] Grimshaw SG, Smith AM, Arnold DS, Xu E, Hoptroff M, Murphy B. The diversity and abundance of fungi and bacteria on the healthy and dandruff affected human scalp. Dawson TL, ed. PLOS ONE. 2019;14(12):e0225796. doi:
19] Shimizu Y, Ntege EH, Sunami H, Inoue Y. Regenerative medicine strategies for hair growth and regeneration: A narrative review of literature. Regenerative Therapy. 2022;21:527-539. doi:
20] Park S, Lee J. Modulation of Hair Growth Promoting Effect by Natural Products. Pharmaceutics. 2021;13(12):2163-2163. doi:



Christine is a certified personal trainer and nutritionist with an undergraduate degree from Missouri State University. Her passion is helping others learn how strong and healthy they can become by transforming their daily habits through both training and writing. Christine spends most of her time in the gym and learning how she can influence others through positivity!


  • Bachelor in General Business - Missouri State University


  • NSCA Personal Trainer
  • ACE Fitness Nutritionist
  • ACE Weight Management Specialist


  • Personal Trainer 2018 - Present
  • Nutritionist 2019 - Present
  • Health and Wellness Writer 2020 - Present
Written by Christine

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