Scabs on your scalp, even just a single one, can be cancer, says Dr. Janet Prystowsky, a board certified dermatologist in New York, NY, with over 25 years’ experience.

“The most dangerous scab you can find on your scalp is from skin cancer,” she says.

“Any scabbing condition on the scalp that does not respond to usual treatments within a month should be re-evaluated and potentially biopsied.

“Skin cancer of the scalp (including melanoma, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma) is frequently mistaken for one of the more common scalp problems.

“Delay in diagnosis leads to a larger and more serious skin cancer.

“Even though hair should be able to protect the scalp from the sun, frequently skin cancer may appear in part lines or areas where the hair was cut short during childhood. It can occur anywhere on the scalp, however.”

Squamous cell carcinoma, like basal cell carcinoma, is intimately linked to cumulative sun exposure.

This is why this cancer typically appears in areas that have received heavy exposure to the sun.

Balding men are especially prone to these non-melanoma skin cancers unless they’ve habitually worn hats or sunscreen on their scalps when outdoors.

Actinic keratosis; Source:

A precancerous condition called actinic keratosis often develops on scalps that have received a lot of sun exposure over the years.

If left untreated, these can start looking scabby (though predominately red/pink).

About 10 percent of these atypical growths if left untreated morph into squamous cell carcinoma — which can be fatal.

This is why if you see any kind of scab development on the scalp that has a progressive nature—get it checked by a dermatologist.

In combination with her focus on early skin cancer detection and removal, Dr. Prystowsky provides a wide range of revitalizing and rejuvenating treatments.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  
Top image: Shutterstock/Dermatology11

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