Scalp Acne

Acne is a skin disease that is caused due to the blocking of the skin pores and inflammation of the sebaceous glands and hair follicles which are present on the face, neck, shoulder, back and the scalp. Scalp acne causes acne on the scalp and the frontal hairline.

Although, acne or pimples occur mostly on the face, they can appear on any area of your body that includes your scalp, back, chest, shoulders and buttocks. From mild acne to severe pimples, scalp acne can be quite irritating and itchy, but with proper diagnosis, treatment and care, you can definitely keep your scalp and skin clear. Read on to know more about acne on the scalp.

Main Causes of Acne:

There are many factors that can contribute to acne lesions or pimples on your scalp. However, one of the major causes of scalp acne is due to hormone fluctuations, which can lead to over production of oil.

  • Dandruff and washing hair too often or using hair care products that cause irritation to the scalp. While, scalp folliculitis usually occurs due to the contact of foreign substances such as mites, yeast or bacteria on the scalp, which can cause inflammatory response and result in acne lesions or pimples.
  • Poor hygiene conditions
  • Inadequate diet requirements
  • High stress levels
  • Heredity
  • Seasonal changes
  • Drug toxicity, usually steroids
  • Excessive exposure to heat or sunlight
  • Drinks or beverages containing caffeine
  • Intake of certain spices

Scalp Acne

All about Acne on the Scalp:

Acne on the scalp can be annoying and painful if you do not keep the scalp clean and nourished. The breakout of acne on the scalp is associated with different names depending on its severity like, Acne Necrotica Miliaris for a severe acne problem and Scalp Folliculitis when the problem is mild.

  • High stress levels and oily hair provide a breeding ground for scalp acne. Such a condition is caused due to the usage of oily hair products or due to irregular shampooing of the hair.
  • Scalp acne is no different from acne on any other areas of the body. It can consist of whiteheads and black heads, also called comedones, or even more severe acne called cysts like body acne. But, the topical treatment which is commonly used for treating body acne or facial acne may not work for the scalp acne.
  • Scalp acne lesions can also be quite similar with scalp folliculitis that appear very much like acne, which can lead to itchy pimples on the scalp or along the hairline. And treatment for this kind of acne will be not the same from the standard acne or pimples treatment.
  • The ideal remedy for dealing with scalp acne would be to shampoo more often with a benzoyl peroxide solution. This affects the color of the hair. So, apply with caution and in lesser amounts. If the acne is causing too much of a nuisance and leading to frequent itching bouts, then wash your hair several times with coal tar shampoo or apply an anti-itch product with cortisone to get relief from them.
  • Mild scalp acne appears on the upper forehead region, usually at the hairline. They are small and brittle in nature. Severe scalp acne is usually black in color and appears over the entire scalp region covered with hair. These are generally inflamed cysts which are large and can also be caused due to certain micro organisms like bacteria, yeast and mites. Follow these methods to treat scalp acne, whether mild or severe.

Treatment for scalp acne:

  • Clean your scalp with a product which contains salicylic acid with the help of a cotton ball or wool.
  • Use a mild shampoo to wash your hair more frequently.
  • For mild acne on the scalp, shampoo regularly with a shampoo for oily hair.
  • Anti dandruff shampoos like ketoconazole or ciclopirox when used with an effective conditioner, act a good acne scalp shampoo.
  • Sometimes medications like oral antibiotics, oral topical steroids and topical antibiotics also help in treating scalp acne problems. However, medications should always be taken after consulting a physician.
  • Scalp acne is a common problem with men and women alike. It can get very messy and troublesome for those already suffering from a number of scalp problems including dandruff, dry or oily scalp, etc. But the key is to keep the scalp clean and well nourished. To know more about Scalp Acne Treatments, click here.

Topical Treatments for Scalp Acne:

  • You can try using some topical products for treating both scalp folliculitis and scalp acne if you have mild to moderate acne lesions. But, if you have severe or painful pimples, it is always better to consult a dermatologist and get the right treatment.
  • For mild acne, you can try using cleansers or creams that contain salicylic acid. However, make sure that you use only mild hair care products like shampoos and conditioner while you are using this cleanser or cream in order to prevent dandruff and build-up of dead skin cells.
  • In some cases, using an anti-dandruff shampoo can also help balance out the production of natural protected scalp’s oil, thus helping to reduce further acne breakouts.
  • For treating scalp folliculitis, you need to use some prescription topical treatments such as clindamycin or erythromycin to fight against bacteria that causes acne on the scalp, and a topical steroid to decrease inflammation.

Oral Treatments:

  • In case of severe scalp acne lesions and scalp folliculitis, doctors may prescribe some oral medications. These oral antibiotics help to combat bacteria that cause acne and prevent further breakouts of acne.
  • Accutane or Isotretinoin help to shrink the oil glands and pores of the scalp, thereby helping to reduce the risk of blemishes and acne scarring.
  • For scalp folliculitis, doctors may recommend antihistamine to minimize the inflammatory response of the body and to fight against bacteria, yeast or mites that cause pimples.

Preventing Scalp Acne:

Although acne on the scalp can be treated by using the above mentioned treatments, it is always said that “Prevention is Better than Cure”. So, try to follow a healthy lifestyle and prevent scalp acne or scalp folliculitis.

  • Oily products often aggravate acne on the scalp. Some of the styling products contain oil and they may cause this problem. Hence, if you are having it, try stopping your styling product for some time and see if the acne subsides.
  • In the same way, conditioners contain humectants which can aggravate scalp acne. To avoid this, try washing with a mild shampoo without any conditioner for a short period of time and see if this reduces the problem.
  • Always opt for mild hair care products like shampoos and conditioners that are oil-free. Also, make sure that you wash your hair twice or thrice per week to remove dirt, dead skin cells and oil, and keep your scalp and hair clean always.
  • To prevent it, avoid hot tubs or spas as they can house bacteria or fungus. Avoid sharing towels as acne is contagious and it can be transfered from a person having scalp acne. In the same way, if you have the problem, do not share towels, combs etc.
  • If the acne is mild, using some over-the-counter topical antbiotics can help. However, if you are suffering from severe form of acne, it is important to consult your doctor or dermatologist. He/she can give you topical/ oral antibiotics, oral antihistamines, or oral isotrenoin to treat the condition.
  • Washing your hair regularly with a mild shampoo can prevent the problem. Anti-dandruff shampoos are also effective in preventing and treating it as they contain certain ingredients such as zinc, which can be helpful to treat acne.
  • Make a habit of changing your pillowcase every week to avoid introducing oil and bacteria into the scalp.

Is There a Cure for Zits on the Scalp?

Acne can manifest in different forms, and zits are another form of acne. Pimples or Scalp zits refer to a skin ailment that involves intense inflammation of hair follicles. Zits can pop out almost anywhere. They can be really uncomfortable and embarrassing. Teenagers are mostly affected by zits. This is due to the hormonal activity during puberty. Adults can be affected by zits too. Zits on the scalp can be very painful and sensitive to touch. They take days to heal and dry out. Inflammation of the hair follicles is the main cause for zits on the scalp. So, many people question themselves “Is there a cure for zits on the scalp?” Is it safe, effective? Does it actually work? Read on to find the answer!

Causes of Zits on the Scalp

Brushing or combing your hair can be really painful if you have zits on your scalp. The exact cause for the occurrence of zits on the scalp is unknown. The skin pores get clogged by dead skin cells and dirt. Sebum produced by the sebaceous glands does not reach the outer layer of the scalp and gets trapped in the pores along with the dead skin cells and dirt. This serves as an ideal setting for the spread of bacteria leading to inflammation and redness known as scalp zits.

Treatment for Zits on the Scalp or Scalp Pimples Treatment:

Zits on your scalp can be effectively treated by the following:

  • Wash your hair on a regular basis and keep the scalp and hair clean always. People with oily hair are more likely to get scalp pimples than people keeping their hair clean daily. So, ensure to wash your hair after you work-out or engage in some physical activities that make you sweat a lot. However, make sure that you wash your hair with a mild organic shampoo. Maintaining good scalp hygiene and washing your scalp regularly with a mild shampoo will help in preventing scalp pimples.
  • Using too much of an oil-based shampoo or other hair-care products can also contribute to acne breakouts on the scalp. So, always opt for oil-free hair care products until your scalp is clear. Or, use shampoos, which are specially designed for oily hair and scalp.
  • You can also try using some over-the-counter medications in order to treat scalp pimples or acne. Over-the-counter medications like Benzoyl Peroxide or Salicylic acid are effective in treating mild cases. They work by clearing up the pores and removing the excess oil and dirt. However, avoid using those acne medications that contain benzoyl peroxide as the main ingredient, because it can bleach your hair.
  • Until your scalp is clear or the pimples have been treated, avoid wearing a scarf, hat or a cap, which can trap heat and make your head sweat. When you sweat, bacteria and oil can enter the hair follicles and worsen the condition. Also, wearing accessories or tight clothing over an acne-prone area can cause skin irritation and trigger more acne breakouts.
  • Another great way to treat scalp pimples is to avoid picking or scratching the pimples, for it will simply worsen the condition and even increase the risk of acne scarring on the scalp. If you pick or scratch the pimple, don’t forget to apply an antibiotic ointment to decrease the risk of infection.
  • Certain anti-dandruff shampoos contain zinc which is effective in treating pimples. If the condition gets worse, do not self-administer any treatment. Consult your physician or dermatologist who will take a good look at the scalp pimples and suggest a suitable treatment plan.

Itchy Pimples on Scalp

Having itchy pimples on scalp is not only dangerous for your hair’s health, but it can be very embarrassing to scratch your head in front of others or clients during an important meeting. So, if you are suffering from severe pimples on your scalp and looking for good tips to get rid of them, this article will help you. Read through the article and get to know more about the causes of itchy scalp pimples and how they can be treated.

Causes of Pimples on Scalp:

There are various factors which can contribute to pimples or acne on scalp. Treatment for scalp pimples may differ from one to another based on the root cause of pimples. So, it’s important to learn and understand the many causes of scalp pimples. Following are some of the common factors that can contribute to itchy scalp pimples.


Dandruff, also commonly called as seborrhea, is one of the major causes of itchy scalp. Dandruff is known to induce itchy rashes on scalp, making the scalp flaky and gives a tingling, itchy sensation. This may lead to painful, red and itchy acne on scalp.


Scalp psoriasis patients may also experience an itchy scalp. Here, the pimples and acne can even extend to your neck and ears.

Bacterial Hair Infection:

It is also known as folliculitis,in which the follicles of your hair become weak and damaged. This causes inflammation of your hair follicles, resulting in itchy pimples on scalp.

Skin Diseases:

Skin conditions like ringworm on scalp can adversely affect the scalp. Scalp infection is considered to be a fungal infection, which can damage the health of your hair and scalp. Patches and scaly spots on the scalp are some of the significant symptoms of this condition. In such a case, you should consult a doctor as soon as possible.

Head Lice:

This is another common reason for an itchy scalp. They cause damage to your hair follicles by sucking the blood, resulting in red, painful itchy scalp.

Products for Scalp Acne

Facial acne can be quite embarrassing and irritating, but having scalp acne can be even more irritating. And, it can be quite difficult to treat it, it cannot be seen and you cannot apply cream as you do for facial acne. However, it is not something that cannot be treated; there are definitely some ways and products available to get rid of your scalp acne. So, if you are searching for the best products that can be used for treating scalp acne, here are some of the common products for treating acne on the scalp.

Traditional Acne Products:

You may not able to use traditional acne treatments if you have scalp acne, especially if your hair is very short. But, if you have long hair, you can part the hair in acne-affected area and secure the hair away from the acne by using hair clips. Then, apply an acne product such as cream or gel containing salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, to dry up and get rid of acne. After it has dried only remove the hair clips. Be aware that benzoyl peroxide can slightly bleach your hair.


Using an anti-dandruff shampoo can help you treat scalp acne because dandruff is also one of the major causes of acne breakouts on the scalp. So, if your scalp acne is due to dandruff, dandruff-fighting shampoos are a great product for scalp acne. Zinc helps to reduce acne inflammation and soothe breakouts, while ciclopirox and ketoconazole help to treat scalp folliculitis, hair follicles disorder that triggers acne breakouts on the scalp.

Products to Avoid:

There are many factors that can contribute to scalp acne breakouts that include using wrong hair care products, unhygienic habits and wearing dirty hats or scarves continuously. So, make sure that your hat or scarves that cover your hair are clean. Avoid using hair care products such as shampoo, conditioner or gel that contain irritant substances like propylene glycol. Sodium lauryl sulphate, parabens, alcohol, lanolin or mineral oil. Avoid using hot water to wash your hair, use only luke-warm water. Make sure that you keep your scalp and hair free from dirt and grease always.


You can also use antibiotics to fight against propionibacterium acnes, bacteria that causes acne breakouts. However, antibiotics should not be used without consulting a doctor. They are usually prescribed by a doctor for severe acne cases, when over-the-counter products for scalp acne show no result.


In some cases, itchy scalp can be a hereditary problem. So, if this is the case, you should consult a doctor to get an effective treatment.

Treatment for Itchy Pimples on Scalp:

You can also try certain natural remedies for itchy scalp at your home in case of mild itchy pimples. Many times, changing your hair care products can also help you get rid of them. If it doesn’t work, check out the other treatment options..

Over the Counter Pimple Cures:

For mild scalp pimples, you can try using certain over-the-counter products like those products that contain benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid and sulfur, for treating scalp pimples. These products are known to be very effective for treating itchy pimples. All you need to do is wash your hair and then apply it over the affected area. This will help get rid of the dirt from the affected area and fight against the bacteria that cause pimples.

Controlling Dandruff:

Dandruff mainly leads to itchy scalp and pimples, hence we must be aware of few effective Dandruff controlling ways, Dandruff and itchy scalp always go hand in hand. If your itchy scalp is due to dandruff, you can try using medicated dandruff shampoo to get rid of dandruff. In spite of using such hair care products, if the itching or dandruff still persists, you need to consult a doctor and get the right treatment. You can also use various natural remedies in order to get rid of dandruff and control itchy scalp pimples.

Proper Scalp Hygiene:

If you are facing itchy pimples on scalp, the most important thing to do is to keep your scalp and hair free of dirt always. For that, you need to maintain a proper hair cleaning routine. In case of head lice, you need to use an effective medicated shampoo to get rid of head lice and control itchy pimples on your scalp. And, if bacterial infection is the cause of your itchy scalp, it’s better to take an effective solution by consulting your doctor.

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