Scalp acne can be painful and irritating: All you need to know about its prevention, treatment and causes

Acne on the scalp, though, comes with its own set of unique problems, but keeping your scalp clean and washing your hair thoroughly can keep you from ever experiencing it and a dermatologist may prescribe a medicated shampoo to help you clean the dirt and dust and open up the hair follicles

Myupchar November 08, 2019 14:02:19 IST
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Scalp acne can be painful and irritating: All you need to know about its prevention, treatment and causes
  • Scalp acne is also known as scalp folliculitis and it can be differentiated by seriousness, from mild to severe

  • Keeping your scalp clean and washing your hair thoroughly can keep you from ever experiencing it

  • A dermatologist may prescribe a medicated shampoo to help you clean the dirt and dust and open up the hair follicles

Pimples anywhere on the body are a huge pain. Not only the actual physical pain they cause, but the attention they demand can be all-consuming. Acne on the scalp, though, comes with its own set of unique problems. For one, how are you even supposed to comb your hair? Sure, it might not be a very common problem but it can be a painful condition.

Scalp acne can be painful and irritating All you need to know about its prevention treatment and causes

Representational image. Pixabay

What causes scalp acne?

Scalp acne is also known as scalp folliculitis, and it can be differentiated by seriousness, from mild to severe. Our skin develops pimples when pores get clogged because of sebum, the body’s natural moisturizer, or dead skin cells. Scalp acne occurs for the same reasons, except it shows up either along your hairline or beyond that, on your scalp.

Not washing the hair regularly and thoroughly, wearing tight headgear, and build-up of hair products on the scalp are some other causes of scalp acne. Scalp acne can develop in the form of pimples, blackheads, whiteheads, pustules, or nodules on the scalp as well as at the back of the head.

Yeast, bacteria and mites can worsen the situation by entering into the pores and causing a reaction. Germs like Malassezia yeast, Staphylococcus aureus, Demodex folliculorum, and cutibacterium can cause severe scalp acne.

How to prevent scalp acne?

Scalp acne is not very common. Keeping your scalp clean and washing your hair thoroughly can keep you from ever experiencing it. Just like you would never go to bed with makeup on, you also should not go to bed with any product in your hair. If you use gels, sprays, etc., do a quick rinse once you get home. Regularly wash your combs, hairbrushes, hats and pillow covers.

No matter where acne shows up, the reasons are mostly similar. Another cause that is in your control is your diet. While what you eat does not directly cause acne, some foods can trigger it, like dairy or high glycemic index foods (sweets and other foods that cause your blood sugar to spike). In case you already have it, though (or suspect you might), here is what you need to know about it.

What are the types of scalp acne?

Scalp folliculitis can be of three types:

  • Mild scalp acne: Mild scalp acne consists of blackheads and whiteheads.
  • Moderate scalp acne: With papules and pustules appearing on the scalp, moderate scalp acne can be more troublesome.
  • Severe scalp acne: Severe scalp acne is marked by nodules and cysts rooted under the skin that can leave permanent scars and darkened crusts. Severe scalp acne can cause pain, hair loss and baldness.

How to treat scalp acne?

A dermatologist may prescribe a medicated shampoo to help you clean the dirt and dust and open up the hair follicles. The following ingredients in shampoos help clear scalp acne:

  • Salicylic acid: It helps get rid of dead skin cells.
  • Tea tree oil: This helps in removing the bacteria from the scalp.
  • Glycolic acid: It helps in exfoliating the scalp and clearing it of dead skin cells, bacterias and extra sebum.
  • Ketoconazole: This keeps the scalp fungus-free and improves the scaly scalp.
  • Ciclopirox: It is an antifungal drug which helps in keeping the scalp fungus-free by curbing its growth. It is the main ingredient of most anti-dandruff shampoos.
  • Benzoyl peroxide: Though benzoyl peroxide can help eliminate the acne-causing bacteria and can be present in medicated shampoos, you might want to avoid it as it can bleach hair.

Using these shampoos can help you get rid of mild scalp acne but you should consult your doctor if it becomes severe, persistent and starts causing hair loss and inflammation. The possible medications for scalp acne may include topical antibiotics, steroid creams or injections, oral antibiotics, antihistamines (for treating allergic reactions), phototherapy, clearing pores through physical extractions or Isotretinoin (a form of vitamin A used to treat severe acne only).

Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health. For more information, please read our article on Itchy Scalp

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