Dealing with Scalp Damage and "Scab Hair"

woman scratching scalp

Hair grows directly for your scalp which is part of the largest organ on your body. Most of us want a head full of natural and healthy hair but we must first start with the scalp. Although your hair can still grow with a damaged scalp, healthy hair cannot. Hair growing from a damaged scalp may result in thin hair falling out, breaking off, or growing slowly. This is commonly referred to “scab hair.”

A lot of naturals may find when they big chop and as the hair grows, the curl/coil pattern or texture may change over a span of 6 months to a year. Why is this? Because the hair that initially grows when you first BC may be what is referred to as “scab hair,” or the hair that attempts to push its way through the damaged scalp.

What is “scab hair”?

Technically, scab hair is not a ‘scientific” term but a term derived from the natural hair community. It describes the first few inches of hair that immediately grows from the scalp when first going natural. The hair is neither considered "natural" or relaxed at this stage. 

The scalp has been damaged from years of relaxers and chemicals and when your hair first grows out, there is a strong possibility that your hair texture and pattern will change over time. Not everyone will have this issue but indeed, a lot will. The harsh and toxic chemicals can damage the scalp and hair follicle, causing it to become frizzy, rough and less defined than your actual natural hair.

How can I prevent scalp damage and scab hair?

Scalp damage can come from a variety of careless hair techniques such as; over processing from relaxers, not properly removing hair weave, excessive scratching of the scalp, scratching or "lifting the dandruff," and more.
Unintended scalp damage can come from various skin disorders such as alopecia, eczema, dermatitis, head lice, excessive dandruff build-up and more. Scalp damages of this nature should always be treated by a licensed dermatologist or trichologist.

Some naturals chose to big chop more than once to eliminate scab hair and others chose to let it grow out. Scab hair is temporary and can be managed if deep conditioned, treated and well managed. 

Scab hair and split ends are completely different, as split ends will need to be removed altogether, it is not essential to remove scab hair if you chose not to do so.

Do you believe in scab hair? Have you had any issues with scab hair when you first BC'd?

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