Reasons of Scalp Acne

Pimples on the scalp occurs when the hair follicles get blocked with oil, bacteria, and dead skin. Along with that infection and inflammation can occur. Acne can also occur on the scalp along the hairline. This guide will give you an understanding of the different reasons for scalp acne.


Scalp acne or scalp folliculitis is the most common in the hairline. Although acne on the scalp is not common as compared to the rest of the body but it is troublesome. The condition can result in itchy and small pimples which can be sore. The scalp acne can be:

  • A mild condition which includes whiteheads and blackheads.
  • A moderate condition includes pustules and papules which appear on the skin surface.
  • Severe conditions include cysts and nodules which appear under the skin surface.

Contacting the doctor for acne treatment is very important before it can leave permanent scars on the scalp. If you are looking for one, then visit our skin doctor to get a reliable and effective treatment plan.

What are the reasons for scalp acne?

Folliculitis is a similar condition to acne which occurs when hair follicles get infected by bacteria. The acne on the scalp looks like zits or small pimple, which can be on the back of the head.

Scalp acne occurs when the hair follicles get clogged with excess sebum production or dead skin cells, which is a natural oil for the skin to keep it moisturized. Some of the factors which can cause scalp acne include:

  • Dead skin cells or oil clogging the follicles
  • Excess use of products like hair gels, leave-in hair conditioner, or hairspray
  • Not washing the hair properly.
  • After the workout, waiting for too long.
  • Excess sweating when you wear a head covering and it results in friction.

Some of the possible conditions which can make the scalp acne severe include:

  • Yeasts from the Malassezia family
  • Propionibacterium acnes
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Demodex folliculorum
  • Cutibacterium
  • Staphylococcus epidermidis

In some cases, diet can be one of the reasons. In case, the person is eating too much sugar or carbohydrates it can increase the risk of acne.

Types of scalp spots

There are different reasons why blackheads or pimples can occur on the scalp. So, make sure you look for the best doctor who will identify the exact reason and give you the best treatment program.

  • Seborrheic dermatitis occurs on the scalp or forehead. This can leave dandruff and make the scalp scaly & red.
  • Pilar cysts are bumps that are filled with keratin and they form near the hair root.

Treatment for scalp acne

Scalp acne can be treated with ointments and medicated shampoos. The shampoo can effectively wash away the excess oil and prevents the problem from occurring again. Some of the common ingredients in these products include:

  • Tea tree oil helps to eliminate bacteria on the scalp.
  • Salicylic acid helps to get rid of dead skin cells.
  • Glycolic acid removes dead skin, bacteria, and exfoliates the scalp.
  • Ketoconazole helps to improve scaly or red skin.
  • Benzoyl peroxide eliminates the bacteria Propionibacterium acnes. This condition is present in severe scalp acne.
  • Ciclopirox helps to treat skin infections.

In case, the problem is linked with symptoms like inflammation and hair loss, then the doctor can recommend:

  • Topical antibiotic ointments or steroid creams
  • Steroid injections
  • Oral antibiotics
  • Antihistamines
  • Light therapy

If you are facing a problem or know someone struggling through the same condition then book your consultation with our doctor today only.