Why do I get scabs on my scalp? 13 possible causes

Scabs on the scalp are uncomfortable, as they are itchy and sometimes painful. However, they are usually part of a healing process.

Last update: 08 December, 2021

Scabs on the scalp are more than just a nuisance. They cause itching, irritation and pain. In most cases they shouldn’t be a real cause for concern, but they shouldn’t be overlooked either.

It is also important to give them proper management so that they do not generate complications. Scabs on the scalp encourage frequent scratching, which makes them worse or leads to an infection.

The most important thing to consider is its intensity and spread. If they appear only occasionally, it is a routine problem. If they spread quickly, it’s time to see your doctor.

There are many reasons why scabs can appear on the scalp. The following are the main causes of this condition.

1. Lice

Lice live on the scalp and feed on blood. Their bites are itchy and scratching may cause wounds and scabs to form. Although they are not disease carriers, scratching can lead to superinfection.

2. Contact dermatitis

Contact dermatitis manifests as a red, itchy rash. It is caused by exposure to allergens that are often present in soaps, shampoos, cosmetics or plants. As in the case of lice, scratching can lead to cuts and then scabs on the scalp.

3. Dermatitis herpetiformis

This is a chronic skin condition that occurs in people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. The lesions look like clusters of blisters on the skin or along the hairline.

They cause a strong itch and sometimes there is burning before they appear. Scabs form that almost always disappear within 1 to 2 weeks.

Celiac disease patients can develop an associated condition that causes scabs on the scalp.

4. Seborrheic dermatitis

Seborrheic dermatitis is a condition in the sebaceous areas of the scalp. Causes flaky patches of oily skin to appear white or yellow, dusty in nature.

If they scratch they can lead to scabs. It is also known as cradle cap and perhaps it is caused by the overgrowth of a yeast.

5. Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory disease of the skin. Sometimes it generates crusts on the scalp, accompanied by flakes of dandruff and thick plaques.

These are gray or silver and appear without previous scratching. Psoriasis also usually occurs on the elbows, knees, and trunk.

6. Eczema

When eczema appears on the scalp, it does not cause scabs on its own. As in other cases, it’s the itch that leads to continuous scratching.

This condition also causes dryness, inflammation and irritation in the area. Sometimes it is accompanied by a burning sensation.

7. Herpes zoster

Shingles is a skin rash that can be very painful. It is caused by the chickenpox virus itself and leads to blisters.

When the blisters break open, the scalp may crust over. This disease is also known as shingles.

8. Eosinophilic folliculitis

This disorder causes bumps that sometimes contain pus to appear.. They are itchy and red that can end up scabbing over.

It is possible that they spread and that after healing they reappear. This problem is more common in those who have the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

9. Neuropathic itching

Scalp nerve abnormalities can also be itchy, even if there are no rashes. Scratching leads to scabs. Science does not know why neuropathic itching occurs, but it can be treated with medication.

10. Ringworm

Ringworm is a fungal infection that is produced by coming into contact with an animal or an object that is already infected. It affects the scalp, hair follicles, and skin.

It causes severe itching and the generation of scales, which leads to scratching. This is how scabs appear on the scalp. It is very contagious and quite common in children.

After the scabs have disappeared on the scalp, there may be patches without hair growth for a while.

11. Lichen planus

Lichen planus is also known as lichen planopilaris and is an autoimmune disease that manifests as flat purple bumps. They are itchy and sometimes cause permanent hair loss or scarring.

12. Lupus lesions

Lupus is also an autoimmune disease. Two thirds of patients have skin problems.

In this way, lesions or rashes appear in areas that are exposed to the sun. Promotes hair loss and scars. It also causes itching and favors the formation of scabs on the scalp due to scratching.

13. Skin cancer

Skin cancer can form on the scalp. Some of the symptoms are sores that do not heal, spots that change shape or color, and scaly patches. As in other cases, these problems incite scratching.

Advice and recommendations before the appearance of scabs on the scalp

In most cases, scabs on the scalp should not be a cause for concern. However, if they cause a lot of discomfort, do not heal or recur frequently, the matter should be put in the hands of the doctor.

The treatment depends on the cause. It is advisable to avoid scratching to prevent complications, such as superinfection.

If it is a temporary condition, there are some home remedies that can help speed healing, such as the following:

  • Aloe vera: The gel of this plant is applied to the affected area and this relieves the itching.
  • Tea tree oil: Its main benefit is that it accelerates wound healing.
  • Omega 3 supplements: they can help reduce inflammation.

It is important to wash your hair on a regular basis. This speeds up the healing process in the scabbed area and prevents infection. It is advisable not to use other cosmetic products on the head until the condition is cured.

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