Hairstyles, Hair Care & Fashion

Scab Hair

Q: I'm an African American girl and I recently stopped relaxing my hair. My roots look awful. A friend says that I have "scab hair". What is scab hair? Can my hair be saved or will I have to cut it all off?
A: Scab Hair is a term that is used to refer to new growth of hair (after stopping relaxer services) where the hair is dry and wiry and difficult to style. In some cases, the hair won't be straightened or curled, and simply refuses to respond to any treatments. It is believed to be the result of the prolonged exposure of the scalp to relaxers and chemicals. We can't say for certain what the long-term effects of relaxers on the hair follicles are, but "scab hair" symptoms are a good indicator that the relaxer chemicals may just be penetrating deeper than we would like.
Fortunately, in most cases, the hair returns to a normal texture and look within a few months. Unfortunately, this means that the hair that is classified as "scab hair" will be around until your new growth is of sufficient length that you can cut the damaged hair off.
Although they don't really help all that much you should be sure to use deep conditioners and moisturizers on your hair to keep the hair as healthy as possible. In the interim, some women opt for braids or wigs while their hair is growing. These options may or may not work for you, but you can make your decisions based on this knowledge.
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How to braid hair
Wigs and hairpieces
The special needs of African-American hair