Why is My Scalp Weeping Clear Fluid?

Linda White

Scalp conditions are common. Depending on the problem, different side effects and symptoms can show up. But, when your scalp starts leaking or weeping clear fluid, it can become worrying. The cause is usually from a sore on the scalp that has become infected or irritated. If any fluid is oozing from your scalp, it’s essential that you determine the type of sores and treat the underlying cause.

Sores can show up on the scalp for many reasons. Some of the most common include psoriasis or eczema. These sores can have a variety of different symptoms that are irritating and painful. An oozing scalp, though, may mean things have gotten even worse.

The liquid coming from your scalp may be either clear or cloudy. Some people may also experience a yellow discharge from the scalp. No matter the color, treating the condition that causes the oozing is the key to recovery.

If clear fluid draining from your scalp has you concerned, the best thing you can do is to figure out what the symptoms mean. Getting an official diagnosis means that you can start a treatment plan.

Why is My Scalp Secreting Liquid?

This guide will cover the different reasons for an oozing scalp. The weeping from a scalp usually comes from crusty oozing sores. Unfortunately, sores can appear on your head for various reasons. Recognizing more symptoms can help you to narrow down the problem.

Not all scalp conditions that hurt are treatable. But, most of them can be managed with a few changes and products. A weeping scalp isn’t something you’ll have to deal with forever once you’re able to control your condition.

If you’re experiencing crusty sores that ooze on your scalp, read on. It could help you determine what’s going on, and what you can do to help yourself.

Are Weeping Scalp Sores Dangerous?

If a fluid is leaking from sores on your scalp, it can be as painful as it is embarrassing. This fluid may cause you to scratch your head even more, which can lead to further damage and even more oozing. There are other things to consider aside from discomfort.

For most people, the scalp is covered with thick, dense hair. While thick, healthy hair is nice to have, it’s not the best for people who deal with scalp conditions and sores. Your hair can make it hard for your scalp to get enough air. It creates an environment that makes it easy for debris like dirt and sweat to stack up on the scalp. When liquid is leaking from the scalp, it can pick up this debris, and it will get ‘stuck’ to the hair follicles.

As the liquid picks up debris and spreads across the scalp, it may also contain infectious agents. The liquid will then dry and crust over. A crusty scalp can lead to more itching and discomfort. New, painful sores can also form.

Weeping scalp sores aren’t necessarily more of a problem than any other symptom. But, they can cause scalp problems to worsen if the liquid seeps out throughout other areas of the scalp.

So, what could be causing your scalp to have a liquid discharge? Let’s look at some of the most common possible conditions.

Tinea Capitis

Tinea Capitis is more commonly known as ringworm. Ringworm is a fungal infection. It is one of the most common causes of itchy, scaling patches on the scalp. It is also highly contagious. The condition can be spread from person to person just through skin contact. You can even get it by touching an animal who has the infection.

Ringworm of the scalp causes red, inflamed patches all over the scalp. If the fungal infection is left untreated, these patches can become so bad that they start to ooze. A clear discharge from the patches can be embarrassing. But, if the discharge is yellow, it can show that there is some type of bacterial infection to worry about, too.

Thankfully, ringworm is a condition that can be cured. Some scalp conditions can only be managed and never entirely go away. Ringworm is something that can go away completely when the proper treatment is given.

Treatment for tinea capitis is an antifungal solution. You may need to take an antifungal medication. You can also use topical treatments with antifungal agents. A fungus is a type of infection that won’t go away on its own and will spread if not tackled. It will only get worse over time. So, the sooner you notice that you have ringworm, the better.

Bacterial Infections

Bacterial infections can cause a yellow discharge from the scalp. The bacteria caused by Staphylococcus can create skin sores. These lesions often leak due to the infection itself. How do bacteria infections of the scalp occur in the first place? It’s easier to get one than you might think.

Consider how many times a day you scratch or pick at your scalp. You may not even realize you’re doing it since there are so many reasons for it. Whether you have a dry scalp or just a random itch, scratching at your scalp can be dangerous. Even one scratch can create big problems.

If you scratch your scalp and break through the skin, you’re putting yourself at risk for one of these infections. Dirt, debris, and bacteria can get into that open wound quickly. The germs can create an infection almost instantly. Infected wounds are quick to seep out pus. It’s a quick way to know there’s a problem, but it can also be harrowing and uncomfortable.

A weeping scalp treatment for bacterial infections usually consists of antiseptic agents. You can find these in topical over-the-counter products, or even home remedies. In cases of severe bacterial infections, a prescription may be needed from a doctor or dermatologist.

Overproduction of Sebum

Everyone’s scalp produces a substance called sebum. These are the natural oils our scalp needs and uses every day. It keeps the skin healthy and the hair full and shiny. People who don’t produce enough sebum usually have dry, flaky scalps and can experience a lot of irritation.

But, producing too much sebum isn’t a good thing, either. Overactive glands that produce sebum can create a buildup on the scalp.

This buildup can cause a variety of uncomfortable situations, including:

  • Itching
  • Dandruff/flaking
  • Acne breakouts

The flakes caused by overactive glands will often be thick, heavy, and have a yellowish tint to them. This is due to the oil, dirt, and debris that gets caught in the liquid before it crusts over. One thing all these problems have in common? They all cause the scalp to itch. As you now know, itching can lead to even more dangerous infections and can cause the scalp to ooze. Open wounds can quickly turn into painful sores that will either leak out a clear or yellow liquid.

Treatment for overactive sebaceous glands can take many forms. You don’t want your body to stop producing natural oils, but you need to be able to slow down the production. Topical solutions can often help with this. You can manage the symptoms reasonably easily, too, by using something like an anti-dandruff shampoo. Natural shampoos and hair products can also make a difference as they contain fewer chemicals that can damage the scalp.

Solutions like tea tree oil and coconut oil can also help with this condition. It may seem strange to use oil when the scalp is producing too much of it, but the right kinds of oil can help to clear up the thick, crusty sores and reduce itching. They will also help to balance out the pH levels of your scalp. When the pH levels are correct, it’s less likely that your glands will produce too much sebum.

Scalp Folliculitis

Folliculitis is an infection of the hair follicles. You might not think this has anything to do with why your scalp might be oozing, but it can be a huge factor. Scalp folliculitis usually shows up in the form of small white or yellow bumps. It almost looks like acne on top of your scalp. Sometimes, larger, hard bumps can also occur. These bumps are usually painful, itchy and irritating. There are many possible causes for scalp folliculitis.

Some of the most common ones include:

  • Excessive sweating
  • Poor hair/scalp hygiene
  • Chemicals from hair products
  • Skin conditions (eczema)
  • Lowered immune system

The bumps that occur on the scalp due to this condition are usually filled with pus. They can burst open and start leaking fluid. This is easy to do because they are often itchy. Even the slightest touch can cause the blisters to burst. The other key symptom of this condition is inflammation.

If you have a mild case of scalp folliculitis, it can be treated easily. Usually, using a mild shampoo and keeping your scalp clean will help the problem. Anti-dandruff shampoos are also helpful, as well as anything that can help to keep your scalp free of too much oil.

crusty oozing sores on scalp

Scalp Psoriasis

Psoriasis of the scalp comes in the form of a scaly rash. This rash can form in patches, which can then itch and cause oozing. The patches formed by psoriasis are usually dry and crusty. But, if they become infected a yellow substance can leak from them.

Psoriasis is a common skin condition that affects millions of people. But, there is no cure, and research hasn’t given us a concrete answer about what causes it yet. Most scientists believe that it has something to do with the immune system. But, because there isn’t an answer for what causes it, there is no way to get rid of it altogether.

So, do you have to live with weeping sores from psoriasis forever? Not necessarily. Most people with the condition have learned to manage it well. The symptoms of itching and redness are uncomfortable during a flare-up, but as long as you know how to handle them, you can live a perfectly normal life with scalp psoriasis.

Treatment for scalp psoriasis depends on how severe your condition is. Most of the time, psoriasis shampoos and topical agents can help to manage it. Sometimes, laser light therapy or other treatments may be given by your dermatologist.


You can get a cyst almost anywhere on your body. Sometimes, people won’t even notice they have one on the scalp because it can be easily covered with thick hair. For others, cysts on the scalp are noticeable because they irritate.

Cysts on the scalp usually form in the hair follicles. They grow slowly, making them hard to notice most of the time. They typically don’t cause any pain or discomfort. And, for the most part, they are harmless. If you do have a cyst, it’s a good idea to get it checked out by a doctor periodically. But, most people who have them live with them forever with no problems.

Sometimes, though, a cyst can become swollen. You’ll notice this because it can cause a lot of pain. A swollen cyst can start to ooze fluid. It becomes even more noticeable because this fluid often has a bad smell to it.

Treatment for cysts can include anything from anti-inflammatory agents, steroid injections, or draining of the growth.

Other Potential Causes

While the conditions listed above are the most common causes for a weeping scalp, there are other possibilities. Viral skin infections are often just as common as other scalp conditions. They can affect the whole body, not only the scalp. If you’re noticing any of these problems elsewhere on your skin, it’s a good indicator you have something different than one of the conditions listed above.

If none of the conditions here seem to fit your symptoms, you may have the following:

These conditions may need more serious treatment to go away. If you’re worried you might be experiencing one of them, something like a medicated shampoo probably won’t work. Antibiotic treatments may be necessary if you’re facing a condition that affects the entire body, not just the scalp.

yellow discharge from scalp

How Do I Know if a Scalp Condition is Serious?

The conditions that cause a weeping scalp listed here are uncomfortable and can cause painful symptoms. But, with the right treatment and management, most won’t cause permanent problems. The critical thing to keep in mind is that you must treat the conditions as soon as possible.

There are rare cases in which some of these conditions can become serious. This usually happens because they aren’t treated properly. But, sometimes people won’t even notice symptoms until they have become severe. If you experience any of the following symptoms with your conditions, it’s a good idea to get professional treatment:

  • The sores won’t heal, even if you’ve tried treatment
  • Many sores seem to be spreading or coming back quickly
  • The size, shape, or color of the sores have noticeably changed

If your scalp condition has become this serious, medical attention is probably needed. Any of the treatment options suggested might provide temporary relief. But, the condition will probably not go away on its own. The soothing relief you find will likely go away quickly, too, and the desire to itch will come back.

How to Treat a Weeping Scalp

Treatment for a scalp that is oozing depends on the condition causing it. Often, antiseptics and anti-inflammatory treatments will help. Most oozing sores are caused by itching and scratching. The conditions listed here may be painful and irritating, but it’s the itching that usually causes them to start weeping.

Keep in mind that for some conditions, there is no cure. The best thing to do is manage the symptoms and try to keep them under control. Finding relief for an inflamed or irritated scalp will reduce your desire to itch it. Painful sores are hard to ignore, but it’s rare that they will ooze on their own unless they are irritated further.

We hope this guide has provided some peace of mind if you’re dealing with a weeping scalp. As you can see, there are several possibilities of what could be causing it. Scalp conditions are common. They are caused by a lot of different reasons. Even if you practice good hygiene and take care of your scalp, no one is immune to some of these conditions. Knowing how to treat or manage them correctly is the key to reducing their negative impact on your life.

By paying close attention to your scalp, you can catch many of these conditions early on. Don’t ignore obvious signs of itching, flaking, dryness or redness. These symptoms might seem harmless at first. But, they could show a more severe condition starting to form. It’s easier to treat a scalp condition early on. Now that you’re aware of the possible symptoms and signs, you can catch a potential scalp condition before it gets out of hand.

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Last update on 2019-09-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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