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What Causes Of Scalp Acne?

Scalp acne is actually caused by the same issues and aggravated by the same conditions as acne of the face and body. Besides being annoying, scalp acne, if allowed to continue out of control, can actually lead to common symptoms such as itching, redness and tenderness, flaking, scabs, thinning and hair loss.

Physical Signs

Pimples can appear as whiteheads or blackheads, just as they would appear anywhere else. These often go unnoticed in the hair. The acne can also become cystic, which is reddened or painful, and will be felt when combed or brushed. Large groups of scalp acne and pimples may cause an itching or prickly feeling and the hair may appear more oily than usual.

Causes Of Acne

Although scalp acne is less common than acne of the face or back, it develops in the same way. The skin produces a protective layer of oil that is called sebum. Sebum is transferred to the skin’s surface through pores. Excess oil, dead skin cells or dirt can clog these pores. Bacteria then multiply in the oil that is trapped in the pores, forming a microcomedone or pre-pimple.

The microcomedone becomes larger and more visible as the bacteria grows, and finally it becomes a blackhead or whitehead. These are also known as comedones. When the comedone becomes inflamed and red, and fills up with pus, it is commonly referred to as a “zit” or pimple.

One can also have over-active sebaceous glands. This can be caused by diet, hormonal imbalance, stress or heredity. While you can’t change your genes, if one of these other areas gives you cause for concern, it will certainly not hurt to address them. buildup of oil leading to oily scalp or hair. Hair products, including conditioners, mousse, and styling gels, can contain ingredients that actually clog the pores of the scalp.


The first and easiest course of action is to address the products you’re using. Heavy gels and products that contain a lot of oil are more likely to clog pores, so changing products may help alleviate a problem very simply. If you know that some foods bother you in other ways, these may also be causing you to break out. Some people find that milk products contribute to acne breakouts, for example.

You can treat acne breakouts on the scalp with almost any over the counter product made for acne, but you will want to avoid those containing benzoyl peroxide. The reason is that the peroxide will bleach your hair and cause discoloration of dyed hair.

There are also shampoos made for dandruff and scalp irritation that are helpful in treating acne, such as those with anti-bacterial elements in them. Some may prefer to use topical anti-bacterial creams to clear up infected areas.

Related Conditions

Some people mistake scalp folliculitis for scalp acne. Folliculitis is

caused the same way but is much more serious. Folliculitis covers an area of skin and resembles a heat rash. It is often caused by irritation to the skin or wearing a cap or clothing that is too tight or smothering. It is also a result of excessive scalp dryness and can be treated with emu oil shampoos and conditioners. Though not effective for everyone, emu oil and various hair products containing emu oil can re-hydrate the scalp and reduces occurrences of acne-like symptoms on the scalp

Scalp psoriasis is a common syndrome that is marked by red, scaly, patchy skin. It usually does not have the hallmark pimples of acne. It can be extremely itchy or burning.

As with all conditions, the best way to know what you are treating is to seek treatment with a doctor. A dermatologist is the doctor of choice to help you diagnosis and figure out the best treatment for your scalp acne.

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