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Everything You Need To Know About Scalp Acne

It’s more common than you think

By Sonakshi Sharma  June 15th, 2021

Once in a while, you may have felt a tiny bump on the scalp while running your fingers through your hair. This is a spotty or acne lad scalp. Yes, it’s a real thing, and experts say internal and external factors from sweat salts to stress can aggravate it into a chronic condition. Don’t worry, though; we asked dermatologists all your questions on how to tackle it.

What Is Scalpne?

“The hair follicles which open on the scalp are also openings of the sebaceous glands. If these openings get clogged, the oil accumulates within the sebaceous gland. These manifest as acne or tiny bumps,” explains Dr Jaishree Sharad, dermatologist and author of Skin Rules.

Why Does It Occur?

Common causes for these zits include infrequent washing of hair, especially “When there is an accumulation of dandruff or seborrhoeic dermatitis. It becomes a fertile ground for the breeding of bacteria or fungus leading to folliculitis – a painful and aggressive version of scalp acne,” says Dr Chytra V Anand, celebrity dermatologist and founder of Kosmoderma Clinics.

External contributing factors include, “Dirt, grime, sweat salts or a build-up of products like hair serum, mousse, gel, sprays,  hair oil, conditioner and heavy shampoo which has a lot of protein,” says Dr Sharad. A hormonal imbalance can also clog pores. If you regularly suffer from pimples or bumps, it’s best to consult a trichologist.

Things that increase your cortisol levels like lack of sleep, excessive stress and travelling can also cause this condition. You may even spot them days before your period due to hormonal changes.

How To Prevent It? 

Amalgamating the right ingredients in your hair care routine and eating healthy can make a huge difference:

1. Treat dandruff twice a week with ketoconazole shampoo.

2. Opt for tea tree oil, glycolic acid or a salicylic acid serum to reduce the oiliness.

3. Rinse your hair after workouts to get rid of excess oil.

4. Eat a lot of greens like spinach and broccoli.

5. Drink about 3 litres of water every day.

Things To Avoid 

It’s important to know what not to do during the treatment, “Resist the temptation of picking on the acne,” says Dr Anand, as it will further cause infection. It is also advised not to undergo chemical hair treatments like hair bonding, perming or hair colouring as it may increase inflammation.

“Your combs and brushes should be cleaned every day in hot water so that they do not cause a bacterial or yeast infection over and above the scalp acne,” says Dr Sharad. Contrary to popular belief, avoid leaving oil in your hair overnight.

While you may not have heard about scalpne commonly, it affects more people than you think! Here are some of the best beauty buys to help you combat the lesions with ease.

Products That Can Help

Kérastase Genesis Bain Hydra Fortifiant Shampoo
Controls oil secretion and gently removes sebum and pollution particles from scalp and hair.
Aveda Botanical Repair Strengthening Shampoo
Free from sulphates, parabens and mineral oil, this clarifying shampoo will also repair your damaged locks.
Earth Rhythm Neem Moringa Tea Tree Oil Serum
This serum's anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties will help remove dead skin while increasing blood circulation in the scalp.
L’Occitane Body and Strength Scalp Essence
The unique combination of five tonifying oils and strengthening amino acids nourishes the scalp and ends alike.
Earth Collective Hair Conditioner
This kafir lime, jojoba and grapefruit formula is ideal for oily hair. It will leave you with nourished and non-greasy locks.