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Why Is There Acne On My Scalp, And How Do I Get Rid Of It?

PHOTO: Getty Images/istockphoto

Ever since we hit puberty, we've come to realize that acne is a pretty normal part of our lives. We don't really freak out (as much) whenever we wake up with a zit because we know we can dab some spot treatment on it, put a pimple patch, and go on with our day.


But what happens if we experience *scalp* breakouts? "Are those even a thing?!" you desperately ask. We're sad to say that, yes, they do exist. The good news, though, is that you can easily treat them. Below, we list down all the reasons why they happen and how you can get rid of 'em for good:

What types of acne do we usually see on the scalp?

The types of acne that usually appear on the scalp vary from mild ones (like blackheads and whiteheads) to moderate ones that include papules and pustules which appear on the surface of the skin, and the severe nodules and cysts that develop underneath the scalp.

What causes acne on the scalp?

Scalp breakouts may seem unusual, but they are definitely common. Here are just some of the things that trigger them:

  1. Not washing your hair frequently

    The scalp is a highly sebaceous environment, and it can become greasy when not washed enough. Excessive production of sebum can prompt breakouts in the area, which is definitely not something you want.

  2. Increased stress levels

    When you're stressed, your cortisol levels rise. When this happens, your body is more likely to produce oil to compensate. And of course, as we all know, excess sebum leads to acne breakouts.

  3. Not showering immediately after working out

    If you love a good sweat sesh care of home workouts, make sure to shower as soon as you're done. When you leave the accumulated sweat and dirt on your scalp, they can clog your pores and can lead to zits popping up in the area.

  4. Using harsh hair care products

    Whenever you use skincare products that are way too harsh for your face, your skin gets inflamed and tends to breakout. The same thing happens to your scalp, so it's important to use ones that are meant for your skin type to avoid irritation.


What are the things you can do to treat acne on the scalp?

Even though scalpne (No? Okay, then) looks scary, it's actually quite easy to fix. Below, we list down some easy ways you can try to alleviate your discomfort and prevent it from coming back.

(Editor's note: If you notice that your scalp breakouts seem to be getting worse even after these home remedies, it's best to get it checked by a dermatologist. This way, they can provide a more in-depth explanation of why pimples keep appearing in the area and give you a proper treatment plan.)

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  1. Don't squeeze them.

    Seriously, please don't. Even though popping them may provide temporary comfort, it will only do more harm than good. Doing so can cause infections and scarring, and this may lead to hair loss down the road. So, essentially, don't do to your scalp what you wouldn't do to your face. Got it? Cool.

  2. Use an anti-acne shampoo.

    When dealing with breakouts on the scalp, you want to make sure that you're using a shampoo that's formulated with anti-acne ingredients. The number of times you wash your hair is totes up to you, but if you have an oily, acne-prone scalp, we recommend doing so every two days to prevent greasiness.

    Acne On The Scalp Home Remedy: Zenutrients Tea Tree Scalp Treatment Shampoo

    Zenutrients Tea Tree Scalp Treatment Shampoo, P249, Watsons

  3. Try a silicone scalp brush.

    Whenever we shampoo our scalp, we can't help but dig our nails deep because we believe we can get rid of dirt and dandruff that way. If you have scalp breakouts, however, this might not be such a good idea (Hello, irritation!) To get that squeaky clean feeling without irritating your skin, try using a silicone scalp brush.

    Acne On The Scalp Home Remedy: Silicone Scalp Brush

    Silicone scalp brush, P100, Shopee Store

The takeaway

While it may sound gross and painful, scalp acne is actually just as normal as the pimples appearing on your face—there's no need to freak out! First, assess what's causing the breakouts: Is it your hair care products? Your stress levels? Maybe your lifestyle choices? After you've pinpointed the culprit, try cleansing and massaging your scalp with an anti-blemish shampoo. If you don't notice any change (or if it gets worse), it may be time to book that trip to your derma.

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