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Hair chemical Burn – what is it, and how to deal with chemical burns on your scalp?

hair chemical burn

Chemical burns on the scalp are among the most familiar hair disasters in salons and derma clinics.

Women who love to dye, bleach, or relax their hair are in constant danger of getting chemical burns on their scalp. Burns are commonly caused by chemical products used in salons that contain strong acids and bases. These strong solutions might be too vigorous for sensitive skin.

However, it’s pretty normal to feel pricking and slight redness after chemical treatment on your scalp. Stinging or burning sensation on the scalp could be the symptoms of hair burn. If you’re worried about how to treat a chemical burn from hair dye, look no further. In this blog post, we’ll walk you through the nitty-gritty details related to hair chemical burn.

Dyeing your hair? Beware of chemical hair burn!

Hair products contain toxic chemicals that can damage your hair and aggravate other health issues. But if you routinely dye or bleach your hair, it’s time to understand how their harsh chemicals can cause chemical hair burn.

 Here’s what you need to learn about burns:

1.     Hair dye products damage your hair as well as your health

Experts recommend avoiding permanent dark hair dyes. These dyes contain harmful coal tar ingredients like diaminobenzene, phenylenediamine, and aminophenol, which cause cancer. 

According to Cancer Research Agency and the National Toxicology Program, coal tar is a byproduct of the coal processing unit.

Though, no evident relation between hair dyes and cancer has been confirmed yet. But research has shown that people who dye their hair regularly found a link with a slight increase in bladder cancer.

2.     Ammonia peroxide lifts the hair cuticle and destroys the color 

The hair dye enters your hair shaft to fix the color on the hair fiber. The dye penetrates beyond the cuticle that protects your hair from hair damage. These dyes contain ammonia peroxide that enhances the pH of your and lifts the cuticle. 

The peroxide content in dye breaks down your natural hair component to dye your hair. Peroxide dehydrates your hair shaft and is the reason why colored hair will be damaged and get a straw-like appearance. Moreover, ammonia peroxide can oxidize the natural melanin pigments of your hair, causing the cuticle to swell and get frizzy.

3.     Hair Drying 

Hair dye can extremely dry out your hair, causing your hair to become fragile and ultimately breakage. So, you must condition your hair regularly, plus use a deep conditioning mask before and after coloring if you want to protect your hair from becoming brittle and breaking off.

4.     Cut out damaging hair products that don’t last longer

If you regularly use ammonia peroxide products on your hair, they can cause severe damage to your hair. So, try out some semi-permanent hair dyes that contain low levels of peroxide, causing minor damage to your hair. But these colors don’t last for longer, and they only withstand a limited number of shampoos before fading out. 

The semi-permanent dyes don’t go through the hair shaft and thus won’t alter your natural hair color. Nowadays, many companies have launched ammonia-free hair dyes using an alternative ingredient like ethanolamine. It doesn’t cause the cuticle to swell as it is a milder ingredient as compared to ammonia. Thus offers minor damage to your hair.

How to prevent hair dyes from burning your hair and scalp?

Hair dyeing products contain some harsh chemicals like alkalizing agents, persulfates, and hydrogen peroxide. Long-term exposure to bleaching products can also cause burns. That’s why it’s necessary to ensure that a bleaching or dye product doesn’t sit on your scalp for a more extended period.


If you want to prevent the damage or further infection of a chemical burn, it’s important to notice early symptoms of chemical burn on the scalp. You may experience:

  • Swelling or appearance of red spots on the scalp
  • Pain, burning, or stinging sensations on the affected area – might move from mild to severe limits
  • Blistering or irritation on the scalp
  • Discharge or drainage from the affected area
  • Itchy or flaky scalp after bleaching or dyeing hair

Preventions: Go along with product instructions

Carefully read the product label to ensure whether it’s safe for your scalp or not. Before buying any bleaching product, you should carefully read the instructions like “warning” or “caution” on it. Besides this, you must avoid bleaching agents if your scalp is already sunburned, irritated, or injured.

chemical hair burn

Wear gloves and have a timer in hand

The chemicals in the products can be harsh on sensitive skin, so always wear gloves while mixing, applying, and rinsing the products from hair. Once you’ve applied the product, set a timer on your mobile phone so that you’ll be alert when it needs to be removed. Once your timer goes off, immediately rinse your hair thoroughly with water.

Get your hair dyed by an expert

You should get hair dye from salons as they have hired expert professional hairstylists for better services. But you should consider a stylist who has a lot of experience in coloring hair and is certified by the cosmetology board. The certified stylist can provide safe and secure services, and thus there are almost negligible chances of chemical burn from hair bleach.

How to treat chemical burns on hair and scalp?

Types of chemical burns

Hair chemical burns are primarily of three types. Let’s discuss how long it takes for a scalp burn to heal? 

Hair chemical burn – 1st degree

The first-degree burn is caused by solvents and acids and is usually the least toxic of all types.

Hair chemical burn – 2nd degree

Second-degree burns can be superficial or deep, depending on the intensity of the products. It’ll be a superficial burn if you notice complete damage and redness to the upper layer of your skin and partial injury to the second layer. Such types of burns are prone to blisters and occasional bleeding. 

However, the superficial burn can heal within 14 days without a scar formation. On the other hand, the deep burn can significantly destroy your second skin layer and cause damage to the blood vessels. It can also cause blisters and heal within 14 days, but with a scar formation.

Hair chemical burn – 3rd degree

The third-degree burn is the worst of all types and causes severe damage that usually lasts longer. It can affect both the first and second layer of skin and reaches out to the subcutaneous tissue. Therefore, it causes your skin to look like leather, requiring immediate surgical treatments like skin grafting for correction.

Signs of hair chemical burn

After a chemical reaction, the burned area of your scalp will get swollen, red, and itchy over the next coming days or weeks. Other signs of burning include blisters, scarring, and red patches after the injury starts to heal. If you don’t pay attention and care to your burn, it can even cause a bacterial infection. It might even result in little to no new hair growth in the infected area. In most cases, it can take a long time after recovery to initiate growing hair again.

What to do after a burn?

  • If you feel your scalp is burning, the first thing you should do is to call your dermatologist.
  • However, if you’re doing hair dye at your home, ask someone to help you rinse your product thoroughly.
  • In this situation, you need to get rid of the dye as soon as possible. So, rinse your hair under cold water until you feel relieved.
  • However, after washing off the chemicals, you may feel burning but remember not to make the mistake of massaging ice on your scalp as it can quickly alter the affected skin temperature and damage your tissues.
  • Dry the affected area with some soft fabric and apply a healing ointment like Aquaphor or Vaseline or a burn dressing to comfort the pain.
  • If you feel exceptionally unbearable pain – seek medical attention right away.

How to treat hair and scalp chemical burn?

There are plenty of methods that can help treat hair chemical burns from hair dye. The more consistently you make an effort to soothe your burn, the sooner it heals. 

Below are some proven strategies that can help to heal a chemical hair burn:

1.     Apply aloe vera and coconut oil

One of the best treatments to heal the burn on the scalp is to apply aloe vera gel all over the area. It is known as a hydrator, reduces swelling and redness on the affected area. Also, it gives a cooling effect by minimizing itchiness and irritation.

This natural moisturizer can also heal hair chemical burns as it contains anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. Coconut oil speeds up the healthy turnover of skin cells and helps repair your wound faster.

2.     Try mild hair conditioners

The following method of chemical burn hair treatment is to apply zinc pyrithione conditioner on the burnt area. Zinc pyrithione is the key ingredient in hair conditioners specified for dandruff. Scabbing enhances the risk of losing hair or temporarily restrains your hair growth. So deep conditioning your hair with zinc pyrithione can soften your hair plus treat your burn.

3.     Try apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar has many benefits as it can[WU18] help skin cells regenerate, balance the skin pH, and eventually heal the wound. Moreover, it can avoid blister formation and give immediate comfort from pain, redness, and burning sensations. Besides this, ACV is the anti-bacterial component that prevents your hair follicles from bacteria. To use this on your burned area, take equal amounts of water and ACV and apply it.

4.     Apply raw honey and vitamin E oil

Raw honey is commonly known for its antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-bacterial properties! It’s a perfect solution for hair chemical burn as it can prevent infections and soothe redness plus swollen skin. Moreover, you can also apply vitamin E oil in your burned area as it is the best remedy to strengthen the skin and increase the repairing process. Vitamin E oil has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which can protect your affected area from free radical damage.

5.     Use honey on the burnt area

Milk is the least appreciated treatment for hair disasters. It offers effective results for chemical burns on scalp treatment. Take a cup of cold milk with you in the shower and gently pour it all over your scalp area. The healthy proteins and fats in the milk give your scalp comfort and help it treat faster. This way, milk could be the best thing to apply before washing your hair.

Other Tips to deal with chemical burns on your scalp

  • Abstain yourself from picking your scabs, as pulling them can put you at chances of losing more hair.
  • Always use a gentle shampoo free from silicones, sulfates, parabens, dyes, or fragrances to wash your hair.
  • You need to protect your burn from further damage. Take a break from your straightener and blow dryers for now. These heating tools can trigger your burn areas, which puts more stress and pressure on your scalp.
  • Leaving your hair open is another best tip to treat chemical burns on the scalp, so let your hair and scalp breathe.
  • If you’re dealing with some severe scalp burn, get yourself checked by a dermatologist as soon as possible.
chemical hair burn


Hair chemical burn on the scalp can cause hair thinning, breakage, or even no hair growth on burnt areas. Have you ever experienced any of these conditions and want to know how to deal with them? This ultimate guide is for you. We’ve overviewed the real-life scenarios and compiled the solutions for managing your hair chemical burn.

If you found this post helpful for your chemical hair burns, share your experience in the comments!