If you’ve got minor bleach burns on scalp that won’t heal or scabs that won’t go away, here’s how to treat scabs on scalp from bleach.
I have dark brown curly hair, and this means every time I want to color my tresses a lighter shade like blonde or ash brown (or even go crazy with colors like pink or blue) I need to bleach my hair.
And while it’s a safe enough thing if you follow the instructions right or go to a professional. Sometimes, a DIY bleach session can end in disaster.
If you’ve used the wrong bleach to developer ratio for example, you could end up with slight burns on your scalp which turn to scabs as they dry.
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The author of this article, Leah Marie Priest has a degree in Cosmetology with years of experience in dealing with hair care, scalp care, and hairstyling. As someone who extensively deals with all kinds of hair textures, products, styling methods and more, hair Leah Marie knows what kind of products and procedures suit each hair type and person. We have also tested these hair products and processes ourselves to provide you an unbiased review about every product. Each of our articles are also reviewed by a team of medical professionals so that you get the most accurate and expert-reviewed information.
How To Treat Scabs On Scalp From Bleach
- Our in-house, board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Bhavika Shah says, “It’s better to do a patch test before using hair bleach, especially if you have sensitive skin. Just apply a drop of the bleach behind your ear, wait until it dries, and wash it off. After 48 hours check for any redness or irritation at the site.”
- She also adds that “Another fact that a lot of women don’t know is that one of the worst times to use bleach is when you’re premenstrual. As strange as it sounds, your scalp has a higher blood flow before you start your period and this increases the chances of burns.“
I asked Dr Shah to give me a few more tips on treating scabs on scalp caused due to incorrect bleaching and this is what she had to say:
- Don’t try to remove the scabs manually. They’ll most definitely leave you with painful tender sores with increased chances of infection.
- Don’t try to vigorously massage your scalp with any tools or use hair scrubs. The right products will do the job for you.
- Don’t go light on the conditioner immediately after your hair treatment. Regularly, we just use a bit of conditioner on hair ends. However, hydrating hair masks and conditioners are your best friends after you bleach your hair. They prevent scabs from forming in the first place.
Apart from the tips given by Dr Shah that I’ve listed above, here are some home remedies that you can use to control scabs, itching and soreness on your scalp after a bad bleach job.
Use A Humidifier For Relief
If you bleach your hair often and scabbing is also a regular post-bleach problem, I’d suggest investing in a humidifier.
A humidifier adds moisture to hair, softening the scabs on your scalp and making it easier to remove them by other exfoliating methods.
Bleached hair is also prone to dryness, so a humidifier can be of help there as well as it prevents frizzy, tangled hair.
Apply Coconut Or Olive Oil To The Scalp
Using a hair oil is an excellent way to soften the scabs that form on your head after bleaching. Coconut oil isn’t just great at moisturizing skin, but it has antibacterial properties as well.
So it keeps your head free from inflammation and infection.
If you find coconut oil to be too heavy for your scalp and skin type, you can go with olive oil too.
I suggest applying the oils (after gently warming them up) to your scalp at least 2-3 hours before you wash your hair. They will soften the scabs enough to make removing them easier.
You can also leave the oils in overnight underneath a bonnet.
Rinse With Apple Cider Vinegar To Get Rid Of Scabs
Okay, let me clear this up before we get any further. Use apple cider vinegar on your bleached scalp ONLY to remove scabs and flakes and to get rid of the itching.
If your scalp is burning after the application of bleach and if you have open sores, do not try this as apple cider vinegar is acidic in nature and it will hurt.
Ever gotten lemon juice on fingers after a paper cut? Yup. That’s what we’re looking at!
But if this not the case, then apple cider vinegar is an excellent clarifying product that softens and removes flaky, dry skin cells, leaving your scalp clear.
It’s also got anti-inflammatory properties that help with itching.
Also do not apply vinegar directly to the scalp. I always dilute it in the ratio of 1:1 with water (equal measures of water and vinegar) and use it in the shower to rinse my hair at the very end.
Another good thing about using an apple cider vinegar rinse is that it helps keep frizzy hair at bay.
Wash Hair With A Zinc Pyrithione Shampoo
If you want to get rid of scabs on your scalp overnight, then using a zinc pyrithione shampoo is probably what you should do.
Zinc pyrithione is a commonly-used ingredient in dandruff shampoos. It helps remove flakes from the scalp and prevents further occurrence of dandruff.
This ingredient is also used to treat seborrheic dermatitis as zinc pyrithione is a topical antimicrobial that helps reduce inflammation too.
So you can see why using an anti-dandruff shampoo with zinc pyrithione is a surefire way to treat scabs on scalp from bleach.
Here’s a little tip for you. Most anti-dandruff shampoos also contain harsh sulfates. So if you don’t want a clarifying rinse on your scalp and just want to soften the scabs, you can use a topical ointment or zinc pyrithione foam instead.
Apply Cold Milk To Minor Bleach Burn On Scalp
If you have scabs or worse sores or burns from bleaching, take a bowl of cold milk, add ice to it to make it colder and dunk it all over your head.
Now let it sit on your scalp for 2-3 minutes and then repeat the process again. I usually do this 3 times in a row.
Sounds excessive? Probably. But it works like magic in treating burns, sores and scabs.
Firstly, the coolness of the liquid limits the inflammation on scalp and acts as a sort of cold compress to your head.
Then, there’s the protein and fat content in milk. Now, this is the real star of the story as the fat layer helps moisturize the scalp, softening the scabs and the proteins protecting it from further irritation.
Taking An Ibuprofen Can Help With Weeping Sores On Scalp
If you use a 40 volume developer or have gone through multiple rounds of bleaching (common for dark hair), you might have more serious scalp issues.
One such scalp issue is the formation of weeping sores. Now this can also happen on milder scabs if they are left untreated.
The scabs itch, like all scabs do. And if you continue scratching them with your fingernails, you can cause sores.
I’ve seen cases where these sores too get infected due to the accumulation of bacteria at the open wound.
So I think these issues are better avoided from the beginning.
If you find any sores on your scalp after bleaching or if you’re experiencing a lot of itching, I suggest taking an ibuprofen to calm it down.
What are some other side effects of using hair bleach on scalp?
Bleaching your hair on your scalp can cause serious side effects such as redness, itching, blisters, hives and a burning sensation.
In severe cases, it can lead to hair loss, scarring, damaged follicles and chemical scalp burns. Hair bleaching on your scalp also increases the risk of skin allergies, sensitization and irritation.
Moreover, it can strip away the natural oils that protect your scalp and lead to dry scalp and dandruff. Furthermore, it can cause discoloration and make your hair dry and brittle.
Therefore, before using a hair bleach on your scalp, it is best to consult a hair stylist before bleaching hair and not trying it at home, especially if you’re a rookie when it comes to bleaching.
FAQs on treating scabs on the scalp from bleach burns
Is it normal for my scalp to get scabs after bleaching?
Yes, it’s normal to have some light scabbing after bleaching. This process can really dry out your hair and scalp and the dried, flaky skin cells can appear as scabs.
Also, if you have a very sensitive scalp, it’s normal to experience some slight burning. These slight burns can also turn into scabs.
How do I stop the bleach from burning my scalp and forming scabs?
If you want to stop the bleach from burning your scalp, you should always use products marked as “on-scalp” (safe to use on scalp or skin) and which doesn’t contain Paraphenylenediamine. This ingredient is known to cause sensitivity in some users so keep away from brands that have got it on their list.
Also do not wash your scalp right before you bleach your hair. Oiling your hair with olive oil or coconut oil at least 3-4 days before the procedure is also recommended to form a layer of protective oils that prevent the chemical from damaging your scalp.
How long will it take for bleach burns on my scalp to heal?
It can take anywhere from two to three weeks for bleach burns on the scalp to fully heal. You need to make sure you don’t pop any blisters at this time or scratch at your scabs enough to cause sores.
How do you treat scalp sores from bleach?
If you have sores forming on your scalp from the scabs, then using remedies like an apple cider vinegar rinse or zinc pyrithione shampoo can cause further discomfort.
You can a cooling and antimicrobial product like aloe vera gel to reduce itching and inflammation. Also, do your best not to scratch at these sores as this can lead to infection.
The best remedy for sores from bleach is to use an OTC medication like the Orajel Moisturelock Cold Sore Symptom Treatment or other antimicrobial creams.
How to get rid of dandruff after bleaching hair?
Dryness and a change in the pH levels of the scalp can lead to dandruff after bleaching. If you are experiencing mild itching and flaking after getting a bleach job done, try using an apple cider vinegar rinse to wash your hair.
This clarifying solution removes flakes and also controls dandruff by restoring the scalp’s pH levels.
If you’re experiencing too much of a dandruff problem, you can also go for OTC medication containing zinc pyrithione or ketoconazole.
The easiest thing to do is to use an anti-dandruff product like the Nizoral AD shampoo or others to keep your scalp clean.
Summary on reducing scabs on scalp after bleaching
Remember guys, the amount of “normal” pain and burning you can experience during your bleaching sessions is zero. So if you find your scalp tingling, don’t hesitate to point it out to your hairstylist.
Also, remember to take special care of your scalp if it’s on the sensitive side. I’d suggest oiling it (unless you’re going to bleach your roots) and using a clay-based, on-scalp bleaching product.
While some scabs and dryness is expected with bleaching, irritation, weeping sores, and burns are definitely something you need to treat immediately.
There are several over-the-counter products for such post-bleach problems that can help in this case.