Scalp Acne: Symptoms, Causes & Remedies

a woman showing acne on her scalp

Scalp Acne

Pimples on the scalp or scalp acne are often caused by clogged pores. The issue may be treated by keeping the hair and scalp clean and using medicated shampoos. This article describes how to recognise scalp acne, what causes scalp acne to develop, and how to treat and avoid it.

What is the definition of scalp acne?

Pimples and outbreaks on the scalp or hairline are referred to as scalp acne. Scalp acne occurs when a buildup of dead skin cells or excess sebum production clogs hair follicles, causing inflammation inside the hair follicle. The natural oil generated by sebaceous glands to build a protective barrier on the skin is known as sebum.

If a person does not wash their hair often or wears headgear that produces friction on the scalp, their pores might get blocked. When using certain shampoos, conditioners, or hairsprays, some persons may get red bumps or pimples on the scalp.

Acne cosmetica is a form of breakout that occurs when materials that come into touch with the hair or skin come into contact with the scalp. In addition, the following species may cause inflammation:

  • fungus
  • mites
  • Staphylococcus epidermidis 
  • Propionibacterium acnes 

Acne treatment for the scalp

For scalp acne, a medicated topical treatment may be required. Without a prescription, medicated topical treatments for scalp acne may be purchased. These goods may include the following ingredients:

  • Salicylic acid is a frequent component in acne-fighting skincare treatments. By breaking down the links between dead skin cells, salicylic acid aids in the removal of them.
  • Glycolic acid exfoliates the scalp, removing dead skin cells, and germs, and reducing sebum production.
  • Ketoconazole is an antifungal medication that is used to treat scaly or red skin.
  • Ciclopirox is an antifungal drug that is often included in dandruff shampoos and is used to treat skin infections.
  • Antibacterial element benzoyl peroxide aids in the elimination of the bacteria Propionibacterium acnes, which may cause scalp acne.

If a person has chronic scalp acne with symptoms such as hair loss and irritation, they should see a doctor about the following treatments:

  • Antibiotic ointments for the skin
  • injections of steroid
  • Oral antibiotics
  • antihistamines are used to treat allergic responses.
  • Phototherapy, often known as light therapy
  • Isotretinoin, for example, is a specialised treatment for severe acne.

Unless otherwise ordered by a doctor, a person with scalp acne should only use one form of scalp therapy at a time. It will be simpler to monitor the success of specific products against scalp acne if this is done.

What causes acne on the scalp?

Acne on the scalp may take on a variety of forms. Scalp acne might seem like little pimples or zits on the scalp at times. These patches appear on the back of the head and maybe itchy and painful.

In certain situations, a person may acquire pimples along their hairline, as well as painful lumps or cysts under the skin. When a pore or hair follicle becomes blocked with dead skin cells or sebum, appearance of pimples on the scalp.

Bacteria, yeast, or mites may potentially enter the pores and trigger an allergic response. Acne on the scalp may be caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • clogged follicles with dead skin cells or oil
  • a buildup of hair products including gels, leave-in treatments, and hairspray
  • hair that hasn't been washed properly enough
  • Waiting too long to wash your hair after an exercise is a bad idea.
  • excessive sweating when wearing a hat, particularly if it creates friction

The following bacteria are known to produce pimples on the scalp:

Malassezia yeasts are yeasts that belong to the Malassezia genus.

  • Cutibacterium
  • Staphylococcus epidermidis is a kind of bacteria that causes skin infections.
  • Propionibacterium acnes 
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Demodex folliculorum

Acne may also be caused by a person's diet. A high-sugar diet may raise the incidence of acne according to research.

Acne on the scalp symptoms

Patients with scalp acne may note that they have:

  • small lumps on the hairline, forehead, or back of the neck
  • whiteheads along the hairline or on the scalp
  • Red bumps that are densely clustered
  • swollen, painful lumps on the scalp
  • Some individuals may acquire pimples on the skin that they may feel but not see.

Preventing acne on the scalp

In order to prevent blocked pores, it's essential to keep your scalp clean. Washing one's hair anytime it becomes greasy and after each exercise is a good idea. A person may use the following methods to cure scalp acne and avoid subsequent flare-ups:

  • allowing the scalp to breathe by wearing looser-fitting headwear
  • Hair should be washed promptly after exercising.
  • Using too many hair products, such as hairsprays and gels, is not recommended.
  • consuming a diet that promotes skin health
  • Whether a person suspects their diet is causing scalp acne, they should maintain a food diary to discover if particular foods create flare-ups.
  • transitioning to hypoallergenic, natural hair care products
  • Washing one's hair rarely might lead to scalp acne in certain individuals. Others may find that washing their hair too often strips the skin of protecting sebum, increasing the risk of scalp discomfort.
  • A dermatologist may be consulted to determine the optimal hair care regimen for a person's skin.

Types of Acne on the scalp 

Pimples on the scalp may appear for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Mild: This generally refers to congested pores in the skin, such as whiteheads and blackheads.
  • Moderate: People with moderate scalp acne may have a larger number of inflammatory pimples visible on the skin's surface, known as papules. Pustules, or pustules, are pustules that are filled with pus.
  • Severe acne causes more papules and pustules on the skin, as well as nodules and cysts on the scalp, which may be uncomfortable.
  • Red Bumps and pimples on the scalp may arise for a variety of causes, making it more difficult to diagnose scalp acne. These are some of the possible reasons:
  • Scalp folliculitis is a similar disease in which bacteria, yeast infections, or ingrown hairs cause the hair follicles of the scalp to become infected and inflamed. Itchy red lumps of varying sizes might emerge as a consequence of this.
  • Seborrheic dermatitis is a common disorder that produces dandruff and causes the scalp to become red and scaly. Picking at the region may cause further damage and leave markings that look like pimples.
  • Pilar cysts are hard lumps that grow around the hair root and are loaded with keratin. These lesions, unlike scalp acne, seldom have a white head.
  • Bumps on the scalp may also be an indication of malignant cells, such as squamous cell carcinoma.

Take Away

Acne on the scalp is rather common, and it's treated similarly to acne on other regions of the body. A dermatologist will frequently prescribe topical medications, such as daily medicated best hair shampoo, to treat scalp acne. To improve their scalp acne, a person might attempt altering their hair care products or increasing or lowering the length of time they wash their hair generally. Acne on the scalp may sometimes be an indication of something more severe. If a person's scalp acne does not respond to therapy, they should contact a doctor to explore other therapies or diagnoses.