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Scalp acne - yes, it's definitely a thing!

Scalp acne - yes, it's definitely a thing!


We’ve heard about acne on your face, your back, your chest, but there’s another area frequently prone to breakouts that just doesn’t get the same attention: your scalp. Yup, true story.

“Scalp acne can be similar to acne on other parts of the body and start with follicles that are clogged by sebum, dead skin cells and product debris,” Dr. Iris Rubin, Founder of SEEN Hair Care, explains. If most of your scalp breakouts occur around the hairline, it’s a clue that the culprit is likely a hair product.

Hair care products can also cause breakouts on the rest of the scalp. “Thicker, oil-based products are often responsible for clogging pores, though not all oils are to blame. And, conversely, oil-free products can also cause breakouts!” says Rubin.

For people with scalp acne, Dr. Rubin suggests tailoring a hair regimen — “that includes shampoo, conditioner, and styling products,” she adds — that’s entirely non-comedogenic (as SEEN is). If breakouts are persistent, a medicated shampoo formulated with salicylic acid (like T/sal) or a tea tree oil-based product (some people like adding a few drops of the pure essential oil into their favorite shampoo) can also prove indispensable.

Most importantly, avoid picking at any breakouts on your scalp to prevent further inflammation (and even more breakouts!), and go easy on the scrubbing when cleansing the scalp to minimize further irritation. And sometimes, says Rubin, scalp acne isn’t acne at all. “Often what looks like acne on the scalp can actually be something called folliculitis, which is caused by irritation or infection (by bacteria and sometimes yeast) of the hair follicle,” she adds. See your dermatologist if you suspect that you have folliculitis; He/she may prescribe a topical antibiotic, medicated shampoo, or sometimes an oral antibiotic to get to the root (couldn’t resist the pun) of the problem.

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