How Do You Know If You Have Scab Hair - Pictures | Natural Haircare News
Dianne Austin
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How Do You Know If You Have Scab Hair?  Pictures

I started my natural hair journey in January of 2012 and did my big chop in November of 2012.  I’m 1 year, 9 months into my natural hair journey.

One thing that I’ve noticed after cutting off the relaxer is that when I twist my hair, there are quite a few straight, wiry hairs that just don’t stay in my twisted sections no matter how much I deep condition, moisturize, smooth and seal my hair.  I also have sections of hair where the ends are extremely dry, wiry, and rough feeling, no matter what I do to keep the ends moisturized.  These sections of hair tend to always look frizzy when I style my hair.  I use steam to deep condition with nourishing ingredients like coconut milk, yogurt, and a variety of oils such as coconut, castor, and wheat germ oil.  I opt for air drying, but no matter what I do, I can’t get rid of the frizz in certain sections of my hair.  Frustrated, I started researching on the Internet to see if there was a solution to my problem.  That’s how I learned about scab hair.

What is scab hair? 

Scab hair is the natural hair, (new growth) that is damaged from previous use of chemical relaxers or other scalp damage.  Based on the changes to our scalp and hair follicles from the regular use of relaxer chemicals, the hair that grows post relaxers is malformed or damaged so it grows out wiry and dry.  It can take a while for hair that is not damaged to grow from the scalp after years of relaxing or other scalp damage. Estimates are anywhere from a few months to a few years before one’s new growth returns to normal.

I have no idea if scab hair is the fate that all newly natural women must face, but it’s been my reality.

My hair has grown about 8 inches when stretched since my big chop, but about a third of my hair looks like scab hair although it’s hard for anyone to tell when I wear my hair out.  I think that this has a lot to do with the fact that I deep condition on a regular basis.

Here’s a picture of my hair after a twist out. You can’t see that there is anything unusual about the condition of my hair:


Dianne's Hair After a Twist Out


Now here is a close up of my hair just before I took out the twists:


Scab Hair


Here’s another twist that is in better condition, but still “scabby” looking close up:


Scab Hair


I find with the sections of hair that are more affected by scab hair, my twists don’t stay in and the twisted hair almost looks matted even though it’s not.  I used a heavy curl defining creme in the photo of me above so the twist out still looks pretty good, but I do have some un-tameable  fly-a-ways and some frizzy ends after the twist out which aren’t evident in the picture but that are noticeable close up.  I deep conditioned my hair with coconut oil and wheat germ oil which I think helps to control the scab hair and helps it to look less damaged than it really is.

My solution?  I’ll keep deep conditioning, eliminate heat, and make sure that I nourish my hair both inside and out.  I’m also gradually cutting off the ends because I don’t want to do another big chop. I’ve also been experimenting with henna which is supposed to help strengthen hair.  More to come on my henna results.

Do you have experiences with scab hair? What do you do to keep damaged hair moisturized?



Author: Dianne

Comment on this articleChanging attitudes about natural hair” is what we do at Natural Haircare News. Through informative articles, podcasts and videos, we go beyond just sharing the latest advice and tips on kinky, curly, wavy haircare – We shake things up and focus on the realities of wearing our hair natural. 



18 Responses to How Do You Know If You Have Scab Hair? Pictures

  1. Yolanda says:

    I’m so glad I found this site. I didn’t know what was happening to my hair it always seemed to be nappy especially on the ends. The crown felt like its permed and it is mixed with the natural hair which makes it hard to detangle and moisturize. My hair feels like it has a coating on it when I wash it which makes it feel like permed hair or product buildup. Thanks for this information. I wonder why hair stylist don’t know about or recognize this issue and know what to do.

  2. Stuart says:

    Hi Diane

    Do you have Facebook, Twitter, Email I can get hold of you please?


  3. Dee says:

    I think I’m experiencing this now. I was relaxed for 33 years. I decided to transition to natural and I’m 13 months in. I have no curl pattern and I’m cool with that. About 3 months ago I cut a good size amount from the sides of my hair just to see and get a feel of my length and hair texture. Fast forward to today…I have a large forehead so I prefer bangs. Since I have about 6 inches of growth in my bang area I decided to cut off the relax end only to find out that my ends won’t stay twisted. Mind you I have used no heat during my transition because I was scared of damage. So….here I sit with 100% natural bangs that refuse to stay twisted and on to of that the hair won’t lay on a roller or perm rod. I tried braiding. It won’t hold a braid. I tried during an extra half inch…still no luck. I’m more than a little frustrated.

  4. Kirsty says:

    Scab hair defo exists. I didn’t use chemical straightening but did use a potent hair stripper to strip an unwanted red hair dye. I should have known by the horrible smell that it wasn’t good for my hair, it smelled like rotten eggs! Anyway overnight my hair changed, my naturally curly,thick hair was straight and thin. I thought that getting it all cut off would help so with a heavy heart I got 8 inches cut off after being assured my my hairdresser that it’s impossible to damage hair that hasn’t grown yet. So not true. The new hair was even worse particularly around the crown which has thinned considerably. My confidence has gone, my hair was always my thing and now it’s ruined! I’m 20 months into my hair journey and can only hope that when I reach the 2-5 year follicle renewal period my hair comes back to me!

    • Dianne says:

      Thanks for your comment Kirsty. I’m sorry to hear about your hair damage but it is such an important cautionary tale to share with others so thank you. I still have sections of scab hair but it does seem to be growing out finally and I’m 3+ years into my hair journey. I would like to think that there is a light at the end of the tunne for you!

  5. Elle Layne says:

    I think scab hair exists and it’s horrible!
    What I have noticed is that the areas of my head where I feel scab hair is growing is where my hairdresser used to part my hair (into 4 sections) to be begin relaxing.
    As a result, the hair in the center of my head (i.e. the crown is reeeeally short, brittle and difficult to care for.
    It broke off down to like, a 1/8 of an inch, but it still grows.
    I understand that some people feel that coarseness in one area of your head vs another may just be that you have different textures on your head and overall, I agree that this can be the case even while HAVING scab hair.
    So, I have been transitioning now for 7 months and I believe I have scab hair in the spots where most “damage” occurred due to relaxers, weave or heat.
    I can’t scientifically prove scab hair, but I believe in regeneration. I think trauma in general to the body can take a while to heal (i.e. regenerate) and the scalp is included in that belief system. While I don’t think that my DNA has changed, I do believe that regeneration of something needs to occur in those areas that are growing so slowly and acting bad a**. I think about people who have been in accidents and sprained or broke something-sometimes, it takes years to return to normal. I am hoping that soon, my hair returns to “normal”.

    For reference, even in some areas where there was damage, my hair is growing in as 4a (but originally broke off when I began transitioning). Other parts of my head are 4b and then the scab hair is 4z 🙂 And there isn’t such a thing necessarily, but I am making it up now!!!!
    Yup, Scab hair is 4z

  6. Tina says:

    I do believe that I am experiencing this as well. I’m only 7 months into my transition, but I have noticed a few things. For one, most of my hair is growing in really soft and wavy except for the crown area, the sides, and a small portion on the back left side. The normal areas seem to be either fine to medium hair thickness, but the problem areas are hard, coarse, and stiff. Sometimes water doesn’t even affect these areas. I can moisturize them and then an hr later they are hard again. The sides are starting to get better, and the back area also…but that crown…Wow LOL. I noticed that in the these areas when I relaxed I had problems as well. I had lost a lot of hair on the sides and edges of my hairline. The area here isn’t as coarse, but it’s frizzy with curls starting to grow underneath. It doesn’t stay moisturized. The crown area has always been the most brittle. That area broke off no matter what I did to it! This is the worst part for coarseness and dryness. The back left area is like the sides. It wasn’t as coarse, but it was frizzy with curls growing underneath. Now this area was always hard to grow. It’s like a 1 inch area, but I have struggled for it to grown for a few years. All of these areas were always hard to get straight when I would flat iron them. These areas always burned when I relaxed them also, so I hope I didn’t do too much damage to them. Scab hair is the only possible explanation for this.

    • Dianne says:

      Hi Tina:

      Yes, you very well may be experiencing scab hair. Hopefully over time, you’ll be able to cut off the scab hair as the “new” hair grows out. All the best on your journey. – Dianne

  7. Tammy says:

    I am going through this right now. The ends of my hair are brittle and dry no matter what I do. My hair is so fuzzy. I am hoping after a couple if months it would change.

    • Dianne says:

      I’ve learned that it is the result of a damaged scalp and hair folicles. It does take time and moisturizing helps but it won’t totally correct the problem. You’ll have to gradually cut off the damaged hair.

  8. Santi says:

    I realized I had scab hair 8 months into my transition. The dryness I was experiencing confused me b/c it was only in the back of my head. It was so dry & brittle. Nothing made it retain moisture. I was relieved b/c it was temporary. Once I realized what I had I made changes that helped. I’m now 13 months into my transition. I still have scab hair growing out but in smaller areas & not as brittle, more like fuzz.

    There are a few things I do to manage it. I use Aubrey Organics Swimmers shampoo every few washes. I use the Morrocco Method Zen Detox clay every few months. I clarify once a month. I preepoo & detangle w/ oil & massage my scalp before each (co)wash w/ a steamer or heat cap. I do oil rinses also. I deep condition w/ every wash anywhere from 10 minutes to a few hours. I don’t follow the Tightly Curly Method but I learned that applying a heavy amount of conditioner (thanks Terri LaFlesh) as my leave in helps to keep my hair hydrated. I apply my flax seed gel & seal w/ a small amount of oil. It didn’t change overnight. My hair felt better immediately after the 1st chelating & the first use of the clay but the strands remained rough & dry. For about 2 months, after the discovery of my scab hair, I moisturized morning & night. I did the baggy method a few nights a week as well. The texture is not the same as the rest of my hair but it does retain moisture now. This regimen sounds like a lot. I look at it as doing all the work before & during the wash as opposed to the amount of time I used when I was relaxed after the wash. There is no time spent on blow drying,diffusing or flat ironing.

    I look forward to the day when I can wash & go. I know that I will have to continue treat the back of my head differently than the rest. I’m ok w/ that. Having scab hair was a blessing in disguise. It taught me to listen to my hair. Because of the scab hair i’ll have to transition longer than planned (my choice) &; I’m ok w/ that.

    Thank You Natural Haircare News for keeping me motivated in my journey.

  9. ebonee says:

    I never knew anything about scab hair until today. And this makes so much more since to me since I stopped relaxing. I knew the chemicals are still in your hair even if you stop. I just never thought it depends on your scalp condition. I have scab hair still till this day and mainly in the middle and I remember putting the relaxer on the thickest part of my hair which was the middle. And it stayed their the longest. My middle hair is really no definition and more of a wave then a curl and going up the hair toward the root I notice more of a curl pattern. I already cut most of my post relaxer hair off and I’m in love.

  10. mykayla says:

    Another can be is, if you use shampoo or whatever so called natural shampoo’s your using can cause that because of the sulfates and the unnatural ingredients that’s in your products. Always read the back of your so called natural or organic prducts because they will trick you into saying its all natural.

  11. kimey says:

    Pure Aloe Vera gel keeps hair smoothed and moisturized to prevent scab hair. I love to use it! I also like to mix in some castor oil as well.

    • Dianne says:

      Thanks for the tip Kimey! I don’t think that you can prevent it since it grows out of the scalp already damaged due to chemical use, but it sounds like you’ve used aloe vera gel and castor oil to help smooth and control the frizzy hairs?

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