When we think of acne, we usually see facial acne. But one must know that the face is only a tiny part of the largest organ of our body which is our skin.
Yes, acne can develop in any part of our body that is with skin, including the scalp. And scalp acne is generally overlooked and taken for granted.
Scalp acne is a skin breakout on the scalp, and it grows just like acne on the face, back, or chest. It is trapped by dead skin cells, excess oil, and other elements that clog up the skin pores of your head. The bacteria on it multiply that develops into pus.
Causes of Scalp Acne
Excessive Oil Production
Sebum is the skin oil that is secreted by the sebaceous glands of our skin. This oil is important to keep our hair follicles healthy. But when these glands become too hyperactive, they make more oil than normal. The excess overflows from the skin pores and covers them up. As a result, the oils are trapped in the pores. Thus pimples develop.
Hair Follicle Congestion
Our hair follicles contain microscopic spaces for excess oil and other substances to break free. But when there are many dead skin cells and oil accumulation, hair follicles are obstructed. This will result in a pimple, as well as cysts and nodules.
Propionibacterium Acne (P. acnes) is a kind of bacteria that can cause acne. It feeds on sebum, and this means that excessive oil promotes the growth of this bacteria.
Acne is an inflammatory response. It is our immune reaction to combat bacteria, and one of the reasons why pimples become pus-filled. This is a common result of inflammation.
External Causes of Scalp Acne
For both men and women, hormonal imbalance is one of the main reasons for acne growth. This occurs when an individual reaches puberty, and while for women, during menstruation. This can also happen before pregnancy, or when the females go through the menopausal stage. There are several hormones that promote acne including androgen. These hormones promote the excess production of glands that can clog up hair follicles.
Genetics plays an important role in developing scalp acne. If both of the parents had a prior breakout, their children might also tend to develop a similar health condition.
The sad news is that we cannot avoid pollution because it is everywhere. But we minimize the effects of pollution by practicing proper hygiene.
Several studies have proven that stress can trigger the growth of acne. When a person feels tense, his body stimulates stress hormones that bind to the receptors that are in the oil glands making them hyperactive. It produces more oil and clogs up the pores.
Poor hygiene can cause scalp acne. Those who neglect daily bath are at high risks to develop acne. This is because it contributes to clogged pores and accumulation of excess oil.
The lavish use of hair products can trigger the growth of scalp acne. These hair products can cause allergies which result in inflamed hair follicles of our scalp. Hair products like wax, hair gels, pomades or wax tend to clog our pores that further result in acne.
Skin Contact with Dirty Things
Dirty objects like bedsheets and pillows that rub against our skin can spread the acne-causing bacteria. Other dirty things that can trigger scalp acne are a headband, hat, cap, and helmet. Constant scratching with dirty fingernails can spread the bacteria to the scalp.
Taking acne-inducing treatments, including birth control pills, steroids, phenytoin, and lithium.
Scalp Acne Remedies
Scalp acne can be treated with care. You can consult a doctor or licensed skin professionals. Or, you can manage it yourself. However, you want to remove acne is useless unless you remove the factors that are causing it.
How to Prevent Acne
“Prevention is better than cure,” is a famous quote. No matter how many natural or medical treatments that you use for your scalp, these will all be useless if those root causes continue to persist.
Take a bath daily. Apply gentle anti-dandruff shampoos, creams, and conditioners to prevent oil and dead skin from accumulating.
Stay Clean Always
Keep the scalp area clean always to prevent bacteria from thriving on it. Avoid wearing caps and hats, helmets or other headwear especially when they are not washed or unclean. Keep your environment clean during bedtime. Keep off from unclean things that can rub off the skin of your head. Bedsheets and pillows should be washed frequently as possible.
Avoid Using Irritating Hair Products
Hair products with strong chemicals that can lead to skin irritation. Avoid using hair products that are greasy, oily, and with a strong scent. This is because most of these hair products with strong chemicals tend to damage the scalp, making it prone to acne.
Be persistent and wait patiently
For some individuals, scalp acne disappears in time – it may be days, weeks, or even months. Avoid factors or from anything that triggers acne.
Natural Home Remedies You Can Try
Tea Tree Oil
Tea Tree Oil is proven to be one of the most effective scalp acne. It contains antibacterial and anti-inflammatory substances that help minimize the redness on the scalp. Notice that tea tree oil is a common ingredient in shampoos.
Mix 5 drops of tea tree oil and two tablespoons of olive oil. Use this mixture on the scalp and massage. Allow it to stay for an hour and rinse.
Or, just add ten drops of tea tree oil to your 8-oz shampoo bottle.
Aloe vera is known to speed up healing of wounds as it minimizes inflammation. It has antimicrobial substances and helps keep good pH levels for your scalp.
Fully mix a ½ cup of aloe vera and the juice of a lemon. Apply the mixture on your damp especially to the affected area. Wait for about 30 minutes and rinse it off with lukewarm water. Do this every day for a few weeks.
Honey is effective in treating breakouts. It contains antioxidant and antibacterial substances that help stop bacteria from colonizing the scalp portion. This is done by dabbing some honey on the affected scalp area. Allow it to sit for about 10 minutes and rinse hair with warm water. Do this at least twice daily.
Or, mix two tablespoons of honey and one teaspoon of cinnamon. Apply the mixture on your scalp using your fingers and wait for about 20 minutes. Rinse it off with lukewarm water. Do this once every day.
Rose water is hydrosol extracted by steam distillation from fresh rose petals. It is packed with vitamin C and antioxidants for healthy skin. Rose water has a soothing and cooling effect, helps minimize inflammation and reduce excess oily skin. Apply by spraying pure rose water directly on the scalp.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is an antiseptic that helps restore the skin’s pH. It washed off bacteria and oil from hair follicles preventing breakouts. It also helps promote faster healing and fight acne-causing bacteria.
Mix one part of apple cider vinegar with one part of water. Rinse hair with it and leave it for 5 minutes. Rinse again with clean water. Never apply apple cider vinegar undiluted because this can further your scalp.
Tomatoes are known to contain salicylic acid that helps minimize acne and dry out zits. It also helps lessen oil production that prevents clogging of the pores.
Blend 3 tomatoes in a high-speed blender with little water. Strain the puree to extract tomato juice. Apply the juice over the scalp with a spritz bottle and allow it to sit for about 30 minutes. Wash your hair.
Or, mix one tablespoon of tomato juice, few drops of lemon juice, and ½ teaspoon of raw honey. Dip a cotton ball in it and apply the mixture on the affected areas of the scalp. Wait for about 5 minutes and rinse it off with warm water. Apply this home remedy once every day for a few days.
Or, simply apply tomato juice on the scalp and allow it to sip for about 10 minutes. Rinse it off with warm water.
Garlic contains anti-inflammatory properties that help alleviate redness and pain. It also speeds up the healing of acne.
Boil five peeled cloves of garlic in 3 cups of water for about 5 minutes. Allow it to cool down and apply the garlic water for rinsing your hair. Leave it on for 5 minutes and give it a final rinse with clean water.
Or, you can blend four peeled garlic cloves with water to make a pureed mixture. Apply this garlic puree on your scalp acne with the use of a cotton ball. Leave it for 30 minutes and rinse it off. Wash your hair as usual.
Another effective treatment for scalp acne is papaya. It has natural fruit acids that help break down oily substances. Papaya has an enzyme known as papain that helps minimize inflammation and prevent acne from getting bigger.
Just blend a ½ cup of ripe papaya, a ¼ cup of yogurt, and one tablespoon of honey to a smooth paste. Apply the mixture on the scalp and allow it to sit for about 15 to 20 minutes. Rinse with clear water.
If home remedies fail, you may go to the nearest pharmacy and ask for over-the-counter scalp acne medications. For stubborn acne, consult with licensed skin professional.
Generally, benzoyl peroxide is known to treat acne. However, this is bad for your scalp because it contains bleaching elements that can affect the color of your hair. But there are topical products that contain benzoyl peroxide to treat scalp acne.
Salicylic acid is another ingredient in scalp acne products. It is a major ingredient for anti-acne creams, anti-dandruff shampoos, cleansers, and toners. It helps in skin exfoliation decreasing the number of dead skin cells that clog skin pores.
Tretinoin is derived from vitamin A that helps unclog pores and reduce the growth of bacteria.
On a final note, proper skin can help relieve breakouts on the scalp. All causative factors like excess oil production, follicular blockage, inflammation, and bacterial growth should be addressed before it worsens.