Scalp Scabs Causes and How to Treat Them

Understanding Scalp Problems

Scalp scabs can be itchy, unsightly, and frustrating. Scratching generally makes them worse and increases your chances of infection. In many cases, scalp scabs clear up on their own or with over-the-counter treatments. Most of the time, they don’t indicate serious illness. If you can’t identify the cause of scalp scabs, or if they’re spreading or appear infected, see your doctor.

Read about some of the most common causes of scalp issues, including dandruff, lice, and more.

Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is an allergic reaction to something you’ve touched. Health and beauty products like shampoo, hair dye, or jewelry can cause an allergic reaction. Certain materials, like latex, can also lead to a reaction. So can outdoor foliage, such as poison ivy or poison oak. You may have a bad reaction if toxic substances like battery acid or bleach touch your scalp.

An allergic reaction can cause your scalp to develop dry patches that itch or burn. If you scratch, you can cause bleeding and scabbing. Your scalp should clear up on its own, but see your doctor if the area appears infected, is getting more painful, or is spreading. Be very careful to avoid coming into contact with the irritant again. Allergic reactions can grow stronger with multiple exposures.

Compare your rash to these pictures of contact dermatitis »

Part 3 of 11: Dandruff

Seborrheic Dermatitis (Dandruff)

Seborrheic dermatitis is a skin condition that can affect your scalp. Symptoms include itching, flaking, and scabbing. Crusty patches of skin are usually white or yellow and can attach to the hair shaft.

The cause is not clear, but it has nothing to do with cleanliness. You can shampoo your hair every day and still have dandruff. Even newborn babies can have it (cradle cap). It’s not contagious, and it isn’t usually a sign of poor health. Unfortunately, it can take a long time to get dandruff under control. In some cases, it may become a lifelong problem that comes and goes.

You can buy over-the-counter medicated shampoos and topical ointments designed to treat dandruff. If that doesn’t help, there are some prescription medications you can try. Some of these drugs can have side effects, so be sure to follow package directions carefully. Report any problems to your doctor or pharmacist.

Part 4 of 11: Psoriasis

Scalp Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a skin condition that can affect various parts of your body. It can cause thick, silver-gray scabs all over the scalp. Mild cases can often be treated with medicated shampoo designed to treat the scalp and ease itching. If that doesn’t help, or your condition worsens, see your doctor. Severe cases may need topical or injectable steroids. If scalp scabs are accompanied by swollen lymph nodes, antimicrobial treatment may be necessary.

Part 5 of 11: Eczema

Seborrhoeic Eczema

With seborrhoeic eczema, your scalp becomes irritated, red, and scaly. Thick scabs can become itchy and very uncomfortable. The inflammation of seborrhoeic eczema can cause it to spread to your face, neck, and behind the ears. In severe cases, it can also spread to the rest of your body. The cause isn’t known. Eczema can be treated with medicated shampoos, which help to loosen scales. Prescription strength topical ointment may also be helpful.

Part 6 of 11: Lichen Planus

Lichen Planus (Lichen Planopilaris)

Lichen planus is an ailment that causes red or purple bumps on the skin. When it affects the scalp, it’s called lichen planopilaris. It can lead to permanent scarring and hair loss (alopecia).

Anyone can get lichen planus, but it’s more likely to strike in middle age. It can sometimes be diagnosed by its appearance. A skin biopsy can confirm the diagnosis. Most of the time, there’s no known cause. It sometimes clears up on its own, but it can persist for years.

Treatment usually involves topical corticosteroid creams or oral steroids. In some cases, injectable steroids may be more helpful. If left untreated, lichen planopilaris can lead to hair loss, which may be permanent. Antihistamines can help with the itching.

Part 7 of 11: Ringworm

Ringworm of the Scalp

Ringworm is a fungal infection involving your skin, hair shafts, and scalp. Symptoms include itching and scaly patches. Ringworm is most likely to involve children and is quite contagious. Treatment may include oral antifungal medication and medicated shampoos. Untreated, ringworm can lead to extreme inflammation, scarring, and hair loss that may be permanent.

Part 8 of 11: Lice

Head Lice

Nobody likes the idea of head lice. As unnerving as they are, the good news is that they don’t carry disease or cause any major health concerns. If you have head lice, you’ll probably feel something moving on your scalp, as well as itching. If you scratch too much, you’ll end up with scabs on your scalp, which can lead to infection.

If someone in your household has head lice, everyone who has been in close physical contact should be checked. Head lice can be treated with specifically designed, over-the-counter medications.

Another bit of good news is that head lice don’t live long once they fall off or are removed. They generally survive less than two days when they can’t feed.

Make sure to wash any bedding, clothing, and furniture that the infested person used during the two days before treatment. Use hot water for laundry and dry in high heat. Other items can be dry-cleaned. For items you can’t wash, closing them up in a plastic bag for two weeks will take care of adult lice and their offspring. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests soaking hairbrushes and combs in 130 F water for 5 to 10 minutes.

Part 9 of 11: Shingles

Shingles

Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox. After you have chicken pox, the virus remains dormant in your body. If activated, you get shingles. It mainly affects the skin, but scabs can form on the scalp as well. The shingles rash looks like small blisters that turn yellow and form a crust lasting up to two weeks. A shingles rash can be quite painful. It may also cause headache or facial weakness. Symptoms can continue for months. Treatment may involve antiviral medication, pain medication, and topical ointments.

Part 10 of 11: Folliculitis

Eosinophilic Folliculitis

Eosinophilic folliculitis is a skin and scalp condition that tends to affect people who have HIV/AIDS. It causes sores that itch, become inflamed, and fill with pus. When the sores heal, they leave a patch of darker skin. This type of scalp scab can spread and recur. There are various medicated shampoos, creams, and oral medications that may help control infection and ease symptoms. If you have HIV/AIDS and develop skin or scalp scabs, see your doctor.

Part 11 of 11: Seeking Help

Talk to a Doctor

With such a range of causes for scalp scabs and itchiness, it’s important to understand the source of your scalp problem as soon as possible. If you have questions about your scalp issues or want to start treatment, talk to your doctor.

How to Make Homemade Eye Makeup Remover

You could easily spend hundreds — or even thousands — of dollars on eye serums and products for your face. But why would you when you can make products like eye makeup remover at home for a fraction of the cost?

Jill Nystul, founder of One Good Thing By Jillee, is a pro when it comes to DIY alternatives. “First and foremost, you’re usually saving a significant amount of money over the store-bought stuff,” she says. “Second, you control the ingredients that go into what you’re making. No more mystery ingredients! And there’s a sense of self-sufficiency and independence that comes along with making your own products at home that is really satisfying!”

Eye Makeup Remover Recipe

Nystul’s DIY eye makeup remover isn’t just safe, but it’s made with ingredients that offer all kinds of benefits. As well as removing makeup, it also acts as an eye cream. To make it, you’ll need:

  • ½ cup of extra virgin coconut oil
  • vitamin E capsules (or oil)
  • lavender essential oil
  • small containers for mixing and storage

Step-by-Step

  1. Start by melting the coconut oil in the microwave. (It should only take 15 seconds.)
  2. Pour the liquid into your container(s).
  3. Use a small pin to poke holes in 6 vitamin E capsules. Add the contents of the capsules into a mason jar with the coconut oil.
  4. Add 6-7 drops of lavender essential oil.

When the mixture has returned to room temperature, it creates an oil that can be lightly massaged onto your eyelids and wiped clean. You can also leave on a small amount overnight to moisturize the delicate skin around your eyes.

Customize It!

Though Nystul uses lavender essential oil, she says you can experiment with whatever oil works best for your skin and smells good to you.

“Lavender essential oil is very calming and anti-inflammatory, which makes it a great addition to the eye makeup remover.” But, she cautions, not all essential oils are safe for the eyes, so do your research.

A DIY eye makeup remover that doubles as an eye cream can save you money and make you feel good about being resourceful. You can even put the recipe into a fancy jar and finish with a bow to give as a gift.

Cosmetic Surgery

Cosmetic Surgery

For some people, beauty means liking what you see in the mirror and having makeovers to accomplish it.

Plastic surgery can improve your appearance. It can also improve confidence. But it cannot restore your self-esteem if you have insecurities related to your body. Most plastic surgeons screen for this type of emotional disorder and will not perform surgery if they suspect that you have such difficulties. Instead, they will refer such patients for mental health counseling.

Plastic surgery comes from the Greek word plastikós, which means “that which can be molded.” Cosmetic surgery is performed by doctors who are specially trained and certified to perform cosmetic and reconstructive procedures

Considerations Before Deciding to Have Cosmetic Surgery

  • Be sure the surgery will be performed at a surgical facility—an outpatient office with a surgical suite or a hospital.
  • Be sure the physician is approved to practice at a nearby hospital facility.
  • Choose a physician who specializes in the procedure you are having.
  • Look for a surgeon who is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery or another recognized professional organization.

Many body flaws can be corrected, from loose skin under the arms to a second toe that’s longer than the first (corrected by removing bone in a procedure called a “toe tuck”). The following surgeries are especially popular:

Breast reduction, enlargement, or lift

The sizes and shapes of breasts can be changed by removing breast tissue, inserting implants, or changing the position of the nipple and areola. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), breast enlargement is one of the most popular surgeries.

Liposuction

Removes fat from thighs, hips, stomach, chin, and other areas.

Abdominoplasty ( “tummy tuck”)

Flattens the stomach by removing fat and tightening muscles.

Rhinoplasty

Makes the nose smaller or gives it more pleasing contours.

Ear procedures

Repositions or recontours large or irregularly shaped ears.

Body contouring

Removes sagging skin.

10 Expert Beauty Tips Every Woman Should Know

Tricks of the trade

by Syden Abrenica

What do real women do to look beautiful? To find out, we went online and asked our favorite bloggers for their best beauty secrets. Here are their top, go-to strategies for gorgeous hair, glowing skin and marvelous makeup. Thanks, ladies

Dunk nails to dry

“If you have no quick-dry products lying around, dip your painted nails in a bowl of ice-cold water to help them dry faster. It really works!”

Coat cuticles, avoid a mess

“I rub olive oil around my nails before I embark on a nail-art design. It makes removing excess polish way easier

Hide chips with textured polish

“Unlike regular lacquer, the glittery kind is supposed to look sort of uneven, so it’s great for fix-it situations. When a nail chips, instead of removing all my polish and starting over, I’ll just slap on a coat of sparkle over my current color. And when I (inevitably) get another chip, I paint on a little more. You can keep a manicure going indefinitely

Steam nails for a matte look

“If I’m making soup or boiling pasta, I’ll put on two quick coats of nail polish. While they’re still wet, I’ll hold my nails for three seconds over the steam coming from the simmering food, keeping them about 5 inches above the water. Then I watch the magic happen: My glossy painted nails turn matte-sexy

Topcoat your decals

“When I opt for nail stickers, I always seal them with a clear topcoat covering the tip of the nail, too. It discourages edges from peeling, makes the decals last longer and gives an authentic painted-on look (so you can pretend you have crazy nail skills!)

Take off glitter with felt

“I love sparkly polish, but it sticks to your nails like crazy. To remove it, I use felt instead of a cotton ball—it works like a gentle Brillo pad.

Cocktail your concealer

“I like my cover-up to float on the skin and hide imperfections rather than sink in and accentuate them. My latest trick: I first dab my ring finger into an eye balm (I love Kiehl’s Rosa Arctica Eye), then swipe it over a solid concealer and dot it on. The creamy texture blends in very smoothly and doesn’t settle into little lines. So nice.

Perk up foundation with face oil

“Instead of layering on powder before happy hour, press a few drops of face oil over your cheeks to refresh your foundation and create a super natural glow

Dot your eyes

“I have the least steady hands on the planet, but I love the way my eyes look when they’re tightly lined. I’ve learned to hold a liquid-liner marker pen horizontally, so I’m using the broader side of the tip instead of the fine point, and press it into my lash line. This way I can line my eyes in three to four quick stamps instead of trying to draw a straight line—which is nearly impossible!

Why You Shouldn’t Listen to Ear Candling Claims

What Is Ear Candling?

Ear candles are hollow cones made of cloth (or other material) covered in paraffin wax, beeswax, or soy wax. One end is tapered or pointed. This end is placed in the ear. The other end is a little wider and is meant to be lit. Most ear candles are about a foot in length.

Proponents of ear candling claim that the warmth created by the flame causes a suction action that pulls earwax and other impurities out of the ear canal and into the hollow candle.

To perform this technique, you lie on your side with one ear facing down. Then the practitioner (esthetician, or a friend) actually inserts the pointed end into the ear hole, adjusting it to create a “seal.” You can perform the procedure yourself, but this is especially dangerous and not recommended.

In most cases, a circular guard of some sort is placed about two-thirds of the way down the candle to catch any dripping wax. These are often flimsy, made of aluminum foil or paper plates.

Cautious practitioners will cover your head and neck with a towel for more protection. Guidelines also suggest holding the candle straight so any drippings roll down the side rather than dropping into the ear or onto the face.

The candle is allowed to burn for about 10 to 15 minutes. During that time, the burned part of the cloth is supposed to be trimmed to prevent it from contaminating the tube. The procedure continues until only about 3 to 4 inches of the candle remain. Then the flame is extinguished carefully. Blowing it out while it’s still in the ear can increase risk of flying burning ash.

What Is Ear Candling Supposed to Do?

Marketers of ear candles advertise them as treatments for the following:

  • earwax buildup
  • earaches
  • swimmer’s ear or ear infections
  • tinnitus
  • hearing problems
  • sinus infections or other sinus conditions
  • symptoms of a cold or the flu
  • sore throat
  • vertigo or dizziness
  • stress and tension

After the procedure, the practitioner usually cuts the candle open vertically to show the patient the material that was drawn out of the ear.

But is that really what that dark-colored matter is?

Part 3 of 5: No Evidence

The Science Says “No”

Scientific studies have found no evidence that ear candling creates a “vacuum” in the ear that pulls out debris. There’s also no evidence that it pulls residue out of the ear canal.

In a 2004 study published in The Journal of Laryngology & Otology, researchers concluded that the mode of action “is implausible and demonstrably wrong.” They added that there was no evidence to show ear candling was effective for any condition, and that it should not be used for any reason.

In a 2011 study, scientists noted the experience of a 33-year-old lady who came to an ear clinic because of pain inside her ear. After doctors examined her, they found a yellowish mass in the ear canal. She mentioned that she had recently undergone an ear candling procedure at a massage center. Doctors determined the mass was formed from candlewax that had dropped into her ear. When they removed it, the woman’s symptoms went away.

The researchers went on to state that though ear candling was used in ancient China, Egypt, Tibet, India, and other locations, research from the late 1990s showed that it doesn’t actually work. On the other hand, it does send a number of patients to their doctors every year with candlewax-based injuries.

What about the debris patients see when they cut open the candles? Is it debris pulled from the ear? According to studies, it’s not. Scientific measurements of the ear canals before and after candling showed no reduction in earwax. In many cases, they found an increase in wax because of that deposited by the candles.

Part 4 of 5: Injuries

Risk of Injuries with Ear Candling

While there is no reliable evidence showing any benefits of ear candling, there is plenty showing its potential risks and harms.

In February 2010, the Food and Drug Administration warned consumers and healthcare providers not to use them because they could cause “serious injuries,” even when used according to directions.

The administration added that they had found no “valid scientific evidence” supporting the effectiveness of ear candling. They had, however, received reports of patients suffering burns, perforated eardrums, and ear canal blockages that required surgery as a result of using them.

Ear candling increases risk of the following potential injuries:

  • burns to the face, outer ear, eardrum and inner ear
  • burns resulting from starting a fire
  • candlewax getting into the ear and causing a plug or inner ear damage
  • damage to the eardrum
  • hearing loss

Most concerning is the potential damage that can occur to small children. The FDA noted in its warnings on ear candling that children and babies are at increased risk of injuries and complications from ear candles.

Part 5 of 5: Worth It?

Is It Worth the Risk?

If you’re careful when going through ear candling, can you enjoy the idea that it might be helping you, even if there is no scientific evidence behind it? Some people go through the process without significant injury, but the practice requires time and money, and there is substantial long-term risk.

Possible complications of candling include:

  • ear canal occlusions
  • ear drum perforations
  • secondary ear canal infections
  • hearing loss
  • ash coating the eardrum

Rather than ear candling, it may be best to consider other options for removing wax buildup, such as:

  • earwax softening drops, available at local pharmacies
  • flushing the ear with warm water (Check with your pharmacy for a bulb-type syringe that makes the process easier.)
  • asking your doctor for other approved treatments

Choosing a Healthy Facial Moisturizer

Why Use Moisturizer?

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Moisturizer acts as a protective barrier for your skin, keeping it hydrated and healthy. While there tends to be confusion about the need for moisturizer in the first place, most experts recommend using it on a daily basis. In addition to maintaining good diet and managing stress, the Mayo Clinic advises using “a moisturizer that fits your skin type and makes your skin look and feel soft” for an effective skin care regimen.

Learn more about going from sallow to dewy, glowing skin. 

What’s Your Skin Type?

A good skin-care regimen includes daily moisturizing and sun protection to fight free radicals and fend off ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends moisturizing after bathing so that your still-damp skin will seal in moisture.

Based on a variety of reasons, including genes and (more manageable) factors like diet, your skin type falls into one of five categories. The most common type in women is combination.

It’s important to know your skin type to make sure you’re putting the right stuff on your face. Very dry skin probably won’t benefit from a water-based product; drier skin will appreciate heavier moisturizers to soak up as much moisture as possible.

Determine your skin type:

  • Dry (will benefit from a heavier, oil-based moisturizer)
  • Oily (will benefit from lighter, water-based moisturizers)
  • Mature (will benefit from oil-based moisturizers to preserve moisture)
  • Sensitive (will benefit from soothing ingredients, like aloe, that won’t be harsh on the skin)
  • Normal/Combination (will benefit from a lighter, water-based moisturizer)

If you’re not sure of your skin type, you can take a simple test. All that’s required is a few sections of tissue paper and a couple minutes of your time. After pressing the paper to different areas of your face, you can determine your skin type, based on how much oil the paper has picked up.

FDA Guidelines for Cosmetics

What separates a pricey, prettily packaged product from the $10 version found on your local drugstore shelf? Sometimes, not much. Don’t believe that price tags determine quality. It’s the ingredients that matter. A good moisturizer protects you and contains no harmful ingredients.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t wield a tight fist over cosmetics, which makes it tricky to trust which products to use for your face.  While cosmetics don’t have to be FDA-approved to go on the market, there is a silver lining: the FDA requires manufacturers to list ingredients on the label “to enable consumers to make informed purchasing decisions.”

That said, reading the ingredients can be as complex as deciphering ancient Greek. Becoming ingredient-savvy can help you understand what’s in the bottle or jar before you decide to put anything on your face.

Fragrance-Free vs. Unscented

Fragrance-free typically means just that: no fragrances have been added to the product. However, even fragrance-free products are not always fragrance free. A natural ingredient or essential oil, acting as a fragrance, might not be listed as such. Many fragrances are synthetic, and mask toxins that could contribute to skin reactions and allergies.

Unscented products might include a fragrance as well. To mask unpleasant chemical odors, products may include additional synthetic fragrances that could trigger allergic reactions. Many “natural” ingredients may also be lurking on ingredient labels disguised as fragrances.

Active vs. Inactive Ingredients

Active ingredients, put simply, make the product do what’s it’s intended to do. A moisturizer that blocks UV rays may include titanium oxide, acting as the principal sunscreen agent. The inactive ingredients help out, but they don’t fight the sun’s rays, in this case. Inactive ingredients assist in creating the final product (whether that’s in pill, liquid, or cream form).

Non-comedogenic

A product listing this term on the label claims to be non-clogging, or oil-free. Essentially, it means that while the product will break down excess oil, it won’t strip your skin of moisture.

Hypoallergenic

Hypoallergenic refers to a product causing less allergic reactions in consumers. Seeing this word on a package, however, doesn’t guarantee a stamp of safety compared with products not marked as hypoallergenic. Since the cosmetic guidelines are not rigid, manufacturers may claim a product to be hypoallergenic—but the FDA doesn’t require manufacturers to provide support for these claims.

So, what can you do? If you’ve had a reaction from certain ingredients in the past, check the label for these allergic substances—manufacturers are required by the FDA to list all ingredients on the packaging. 

Natural vs. Organic

Natural products use ingredients that come from botanical sources (and may or may not use chemicals). Organic products claim to have ingredients that are grown without chemicals, pesticides, or artificial fertilizers. Unfortunately, the loose FDA guidelines make most products vulnerable to misleading labels, and natural and organic products are not necessarily any better.

To cut through the confusion, you can read an overview below of the USDA organic guidelines for certified organic products:

  • 100 percent organic:  it’s optional, but these products are qualified to use the USDA Organic Seal; products bearing this seal must use organically-produced ingredients (not counting water and salt). 
  • Organic:  products marked “organic” contain at least 95 percent organic ingredients (not counting water and salt) and can display the Organic Seal; as for the rest of the ingredients, they must be from approved, non-agricultural substances, or from non-organically produced agricultural products. 
  • Made with organic ingredients:  contains at least 70 percent organic ingredients but products cannot use the USDA Organic Seal; these products are allowed to list “up to three of the organic ingredients or ‘food’ groups on the principal display panel.” 
  • Less than 70 percent organic ingredients:  products cannot use the organic seal or use the word “organic” anywhere on the main product package (organically produced ingredients can be listed).

Broad-Spectrum

This means that the product blocks both UVB and UVA rays from the sun. While not all moisturizers contain sunscreen, many products now offer this two-in-one blend. If you don’t use a moisturizer that fights the sun’s rays, apply your moisturizer first then follow up with sunscreen.

Parabens

Parabens are preservatives that give cosmetics a longer shelf life. On the label, you may see these commonly used parabens in cosmetics: methylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben, all deemed “safe for use in cosmetic products at levels up to 25 percent” according to The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR).

Used in a variety of beauty and skin care products, parabens have been studied for their potential health risks, based on concerns that they mimic estrogen, which in turn could lead to cancer. Since parabens are not listed on the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) list, they may still be included in products marked as organic.

Currently, the FDA maintains that parabens do not pose a serious health risk to require their removal from cosmetic products. Based on studies, the FDA claims, “Although parabens can act similarly to estrogen, they have been shown to have much less estrogenic activity than the body’s naturally occurring estrogen.” Parabens are considered safe at low levels, according to the CIR, ranging from 0.01 to 0.3 percent in cosmetics.

Phthalates

Phthalates are found among a wide variety of products—from fragrances, lotions, and deodorants to toys and food packaging—and have raised concern about potential health risks, including impaired fertility. Due to increasing public anxiety, progress was made to push for testing and federal regulation. A 2008 follow-up study by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics showed that a portion of the cosmetics industry has lowered its use of phthalates in products. This widely used and widely researched chemical has been studied mainly in rodents, and in limited volunteer studies in humans. According to the American Chemistry Council, findings suggest that cancer-causing concerns in phthalates are more unique to rodents than to humans. Reports by the U.S. National Toxicology Program on six of the seven phthalates that it reviewed found the risk to human reproductive and developmental health to be “minimal.”