Woman of Color Scratching Her Scalp Skin

You got an excellent idea about changing your hairstyle and want to get a completely new color. You know what you want, you are excited and you decide to randomly go to a hair salon, where the unthinkable happens.

A slight mistake and carelessness can easily lead to a chemical burn on the scalp. Chemical burns are much more common than you might think. They happen by not correctly using household products or, more often, when an inexperienced person tries to dye their hair.

These types of injuries are anything but life-threatening. However, they can have a detrimental effect on your hair, scalp and overall appearance.

Whether you are using a permanent or semi-permanent hair color, it comes with some risks involved and you need to be aware of them. Knowing the dangers can help you avoid the possible consequences.

So we think it is better to learn how to properly handle the product and how dangerous it can be before you start using it.

What Is a Chemical Burn

A chemical burn is defined as irritation or damage inflicted on a person’s skin or soft tissue caused by a corrosive agent.

Some of the most common substances that can cause chemical burns are strong acids like hydrochloric acids or alkaline acids like sodium hydroxide. As far as hair dye goes, people who suffer the most have sensitive skin.

The problem occurs while coloring your hair, as certain hair dyes may have certain additives and chemicals that can cause damage to your scalp. Most commonly, damage to one’s hair can happen by leaving it wrapped in a foil for too long and sitting under a dryer for too long.

Also, it does not matter if you are trying to lighten your hair without using bleach; the problem lies in how your body reacts to the additives in hair dyes.

Some people may be too sensitive to specific ingredients found in hair coloring agents and will immediately get a reaction from them.

What Causes Chemical Scalp Burns

You must understand that the scalp is as sensitive as the skin on your face. As soon as you start noticing a tingling, burning or itching sensation, it means that there is a possibility of a chemical burn occurring.

These are only mild symptoms, but things can quickly go awry, leading to a severe injury if you don’t react fast. Not responding fast enough or doing something insane, like bleaching hair twice daily, can lead to further skin and hair damage.

The ingredients found in these products that could create problems are the following:

  • Ammonia
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Lead acetate
  • Resorcinol
  • P-phenylenediamine
  • DMDM hydantoin
  • Lye

Chemical Burn On Scalp

How to Prevent Chemical Burns on Your Scalp

The best way to prevent chemical burns on your scalp from happening is to do everything as safely as possible. This means getting an experienced hair colorist to help you and not doing it alone or getting your friend to do it for you.

Practices like coloring your hair or color striping from dyed hair are best left to somebody who knows what they are doing and has a background in hair care.

Having a consultation before starting is also essential, as you can explain if you are allergic to some ingredients or tell them if you have sensitive skin.

One of the ways to start is by doing a test strip on a small sample of the hair to ensure that there are no reactions to the products that will be used.

It is a bonafide way to prevent box dye side effects or other unwanted situations. The best way to treat a chemical burn is to rinse the hair out immediately as it happens.

Hair washing after dyeing might be too late, so it is best to do it immediately and as fast as possible. After removing all the dye that caused the burn it is best to wash your hair out with a type of soap that does not contain any harsh chemicals.

Of course, you should avoid touching the affected area and not put any added products that might irritate you. However, products like aloe vera or petroleum jelly can help soothe the burn and help it heal faster.

How to Soothe the Burn

If you notice an excellent possibility of a chemical burn occurring on your scalp or start feeling some early signs like tingling, itching or burning, you must take action fast. Redness is a mild symptom, but you don’t want things leading up to cancer.

You will essentially need to do the following:

Eliminate the Source

If you are under a drying hood remove it and run the burn or your hair under some cold water for at least 30 seconds.

Rinse the Affected Area

Get some white or apple vinegar and rinse the burn out. Dab the burnt area with it a bit to soothe the sensation.

Apply a Burn Cream

Get a gauze and apply some burn solvent or aloe vera. This will help the burn start to heal and alleviate some painful and itchy effects.

Home Remedies for a Chemical Burn on the Scalp

White or apple vinegar is one of the best ways to heal a chemical burn on your scalp. First, you probably have some of it around the house, and if you don’t you can get it cheap in any grocery store.

It helps because the weak acetic acid helps to balance the pH levels in the damaged skin, promoting healing and regeneration. Also, a mixture of citrus juice and salt is a natural way to prevent pain on contact.

It also helps to eliminate blistering, allows the damaged tissue to remain elastic, promotes healing and, very importantly, prevents possible infections.

Finally, a combination of honey, coconut oil, aloe vera gel and beeswax is another home remedy that can help alleviate the effects of a chemical burn. Honey is known for being a natural antiseptic, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory.

Beeswax helps to lock in moisture and also protect the skin. Coconut oil accelerates skin regeneration and stimulates collagen production. We are not really sure if it’ll make bleached hair silky soft, but it will certainly help with any chemical burns.

Home Remedies for a Chemical Burn on the Scalp


What are the symptoms of a chemical burn?

The main symptoms are tingling, itching and a burning sensation on your skin or scalp.

What are the possible complications and side effects of chemical burns?

The most obvious side effect is getting a large burn and losing large clumps of hair. Further implications might lead to damage of larger areas of the scalp, skin and hair dryness and also partial hair loss.

When should you seek medical attention for your chemical burn?

Immediately as it happens, the faster you act, the more effective the applied treatment will be.

What are some common products that might cause chemical burns to your scalp?

Besides hair dyes, other household products that contain hydrogen peroxide and persulphates can cause chemical burns.

How long does a chemical burn on your scalp take to heal?

It depends on the burn and average monthly hair growth. A small burn can be treated in a few days, but a more serious one will require weeks or months to heal properly.

Vinnie - Barber

About the author: Vinnie – Barber

Vinnie is one of the members of the Beardoholic writers team. He’s also a barber and hairstylist for 15 years now and he has a kick-ass beard of his own, so he surely knows what makes a magnificent beard and hair and how to achieve them. He’s our go-to guy for all the latest beard and hairstyle trends and he always has a tip or two on how to grow and style a thick beard fast.

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