Scabs on the scalp

Scabs on the scalp are often unpleasant because, most of the time, they are accompanied by itching. Of course, scratching them (a natural reaction) can make them worse, or even lead to a local infection if the situation persists.

Fortunately, most of the time, these scabs disappear on their own, without any action being taken. At this stage, there's no need to worry about hair loss associated with scalp scabs, but by blocking the pores, the hair may have difficulty growing, not to mention the fact that vigorous scratching of the affected areas will lead to compulsive hair pulling and hairless patches may form. 

On the other hand, if the patches spread over the skull or become infected, it's best to consult a doctor so that, once the diagnosis has been made, the cause can be understood and a suitable treatment strategy can be put in place.

Main causes of scabbing

Contact dermatitis

Often overlooked, contact dermatitis remains one of the most common causes of the appearance of scabs on the scalp.

It is quite simply an allergic reaction most often caused by the application of a hair dye and more rarely by a substance contained in a shampoo, for example.

This allergic reaction is easy to identify: it first causes dry patches to appear, followed by scales, and can quickly degenerate into scabs if scratched. Of course, contact dermatitis is not contagious.

However, we recommend that you identify the substance or substances that have triggered your allergy as soon as possible. Repeated exposure to an allergenic agent will only increase the allergic reaction and make its consequences increasingly unpleasant.

Seborrheic dermatitis

Seborrheic dermatitis is a fairly common skin condition, but its origins are very poorly understood. It can therefore appear without any warning signs and disappear as quickly as it appeared without anyone understanding why.

As well as itching, this dermatitis causes scabs to form. It is not at all contagious, but its symptoms (dandruff and scabs) can be very persistent and really difficult to treat. In the case of seborrhoeic dermatitis, dandruff often does not disappear after shampooing, which is obviously very unpleasant.

It is also found in babies, where it is known as "cradle cap".

Other causes of the appearance of scabs on the scalp

Seborrheic eczema

With seborrheic eczema, the scalp becomes irritated, red and flaky. The accompanying thick scabs can quickly become very uncomfortable.

The causes of seborrhoeic eczema are not known, but it is not contagious either.

Psoriasis of the scalp

Psoriasis is a non-contagious skin disease that can affect various parts of the body, including of course the scalp. Psoriasis is thought to affect the scalp in more than 50% of reported cases. Scalp psoriasis also causes the local appearance of thick, or even very thick, scabs.

Lice

Lice cause irritation of the scalp which, if scratched, degenerates into scabs. Head lice are highly contagious and when they are found on a family member, the other members of the household must be checked immediately.

Fortunately, lice disappear very easily as soon as they are treated, and with them the itching and scabs they cause.

Shingles

This non-contagious disease is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. In fact, the virus that causes chickenpox, the varicella-zoster virus (or VZV), often remains dormant in the body in people who have contracted chickenpox, which remains one of the most widespread and contagious childhood diseases.

Shingles generally affects the skin of the body, but scabs can often form on the scalp.

This type of scalp crust can spread rapidly in patches if not treated quickly enough.

Ringworm of the scalp

Ringworm is a fungal infection affecting the skin and scalp. Symptoms include itching and scaly patches.

Fairly contagious, untreated ringworm can lead to severe hair loss.

Flat lichen

Lichen planus is a pro-inflammatory disease of the scalp. Its origin is poorly understood, although specialists agree that it is highly likely to be the result of an emotional shock.

Lichen planus causes the appearance of painful areas on the scalp, associated with scabs, and can unfortunately very often develop into a skin disease, scarring alopecia.

Lupus

An autoimmune disease, lupus produces antibodies which attack healthy tissues, first and foremost the skin of the scalp. In this case, lupus will cause scabs to appear, and gradually degenerate into scarring hair loss.

Dermatitis herpetiformis

Dermatitis herpetiformis is a highly irritating skin and scalp condition seen in people with coeliac disease (an autoimmune disease linked to an allergy to gluten). It is not contagious.

Dermatitis herpetiformis manifests itself by the appearance of "bumps" on the scalp, which quickly become covered in scabs. In this case, the appearance of scabs is good news, as they generally precede the disappearance of the bumps by a week to 10 days.

What care and treatments are available to effectively treat scabs on the skin? scalp without necessarily buying a commercial product?

As is often the case in the field of health and well-being, using plants (extracts, essential oils, etc.) is an effective solution when it comes to treating the symptoms associated with scalp disorders.

At Clauderer, for over 50 years now, we have always favoured the use of plants for our haircare products to treat the scalp and hair. In addition to their often remarkable and rarely equalled effectiveness, plant extracts also have the advantage of being non-addictive, with no harmful side-effects.

The 2 main plants whose effectiveness we have been able to verify in the treatment of scalp scabs are aloe vera and tea tree oil.

Aloe vera

Aloe vera has both anti-inflammatory and healing properties that have been widely documented and proven by numerous clinical studies (in English Aloe Vera a short review). Applied directly to the scabs on the scalp, it first relieves the itching. Over time, it will calm the inflammation and, as a result, reduce or even eliminate the scabs on the scalp.

In practical terms, we recommend cutting an aloe vera leaf to extract a little of the gel it contains. Then apply this gel directly to the scabs on your scalp, leaving it on for an hour or so before rinsing off with an ultra-gentle shampoo. You can repeat this routine every day until the scabs disappear. Make sure you wash your hair with gentle shampoos made from natural ingredients that are as non-irritating as possible, after the recommended leave-in time. Click here to read our advice for an effective shampoo.

Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil is an essential oil which, like aloe vera, has been shown to have powerful anti-microbial properties.

It has been amply proven in the treatment of seborrheic dermatitis: ( see:Tea tree oil attenuates experimental contact dermatitis) but also psoriasis, for example.

As with any essential oil, care must be taken when applying it. We recommend incorporating around ten drops of tea tree oil into an oily base such as coconut or olive oil, and then applying this mixture directly to the scalp. We recommend a 10-minute rest period before rinsing with a very mild shampoo (as with aloe vera).

Hot towels

Finally, at Clauderer, we often recommend accompanying the treatment with the application of hot towels.

As well as having an instant emollient effect, hot towels stimulate micro-circulation in the scalp, allowing the products used to be better absorbed.

They're very easy to use: just run a towel under warm water and wrap the towel around your head. You can leave it on for as long as the product's recommended break-in time.

At Clauderer

At Clauderer, we naturally have a range of products for the effective treatment of scabs on the scalp, which are both fast-acting and long-lasting. To determine which products to use for optimum effect, the first essential step is to carry out a diagnosis, either directly at our Centre in Paris, or remotely. Our specialists will be able to advise you and recommend the treatment and care best suited to your personal problems.

Jean-François Cabos

Jean-François Cabos is the creator of a unique hair care method based on the research he coordinated, which led to the publication of the book "Cheveux, Racines de Vie" with Hélène Clauderer by Robert Laffont (Collection "Réponses/ Santé").

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