Scalp Acne

What is Scalp Acne?

Acne is a common skin condition characterized by acne breakouts on the back, chest and face. It happens when the skin's pores become clogged with natural oil, called sebum, bacteria and dead skin cells.

Scalp acne, however, can be a skin problem that appears on the scalp or along the hairline. It might appear in the form of whiteheads, blackheads, pustules or papules. In some instances it may be extremely itchy and cause the scalp to peel, flake, or exude.

Different Types of Scalp Acne, Causes And Treatment

Scalp Folliculitis

Scalp folliculitis is an inflammatory condition of the hair follicles within the scalp.

It is characterised by small pustules, that can be very itchy, within the scalp, and often most frustrating around the front hair line. There may be a few lesions on the scalp or more. Nevertheless, constant itching and scratching may lead to crusty sores.

What causes Scalp Folliculitis?

The actual cause of scalp folliculitis is not fully understood. However, it is commonly thought to be an inflammatory reaction to micro-organisms within the hair follicle anatomy or a scalp condition aggravated by bacterial infection.

* Proprionibacterium Folliculitis:

Or acne necrotica miliaris due to the bacteria Propionibacterium acnes.

* Acne Necrotica Miliaris:

Is an unusual and persistent form of scalp folliculitis, identified mainly in adults, with tiny pustules.

* Acne Varioliformis:

Or otherwise called acne frontalis is an uncommon condition with reddish-brown, papulopustular umbilicated lesions on the skin, normally around the forehead and scalp, probably a severe variation of necrotica necrotica.

* Staphylococcus Aureus:

A more severe case may be as a result of Staphylococcal skin infection from Staphylococcus aureus.

* Malassezia Folliculitis:

On the other hand , is as a consequence of yeast growing within the hair follicles where they create irritation, swelling and inflammation. The treatment for a malassezia fungal infection could be as simple as the use of tea tree oil, which is an integral part of countless ‘natural’ shampoos due to its anti fungal and antiseptic properties . Shampoo containing ketoconazole, zinc pyrithione and selenium sulfide is also normally effective.

* Demodex Folliculorum:

Another cause could be very small mites that reside within the hair follicle and therefore cause an infection like demodex folliculorum.

* Dihydrotestosterone (DHT)

Acne in the scalp, particularly in men, could be the result of an over production of DHT in the scalp. This condition can choke the hair follicles and prevent the production of healthy hair.


Scalp acne may be as a result of a multitude of things like an allergic reaction to harsh chemicals in the dye, hair treatment, shampoo or conditioner that is applied and used on the skin and scalp.

If it is an allergic reaction experimenting with hair treatments would help establish which product is more suitable, eliminating the ones with harsh chemicals.

Over-the-counter medicated hair shampoo that has antibacterial properties and contains salicylic acid, tar, sulfur, zinc pyrithione and selenium sulfide may be useful, nevertheless consult your doctor or dermatologist for more information about these products.

The human scalp ought to be cleansed with a mild regular hair shampoo as frequently as needed. Antidandruff hair shampoos that contain anti-fungal agents like ciclopirox or ketoconazole are occasionally useful. Conditioner may be used if preferred.

The following remedies may be useful:

Topical antibiotics e.g. clindamycin solution, erythromycin solution and fusidic acid gel

Mild topical steroid creams or lotions

Oral antibiotics like tetracycline

Oral antihistamines

Oral isotretinoin

These are some of the medication that your doctor or dermatologist may prescribe. A diagnosis is primarily based on how the skin or scalp looks, however, Laboratory tests may show which bacteria or fungus is causing the infection. Hence, be safe and consult your pharmacist, pharmacologist or health practitioner.

Other Types of Skin Infection/Scalp Acne

Scalp Acne

Scalp Eczema

Scalp Psoriasis

Seborrheic Dermatitis

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