Just about everyone knows, or think they know, what acne is. They will tell you that it commonly breaks out on the face, chest, arms and on the back. Acne also appears on other parts of the body as well, but unless you're someone with acne in one of these 'other' areas, you may not have realized this.
Now, if you stop for a moment and really think about what acne is – a skin condition – it makes sense then that acne can appear almost anywhere on the body. One area in particular that is not often associated with acne is the scalp.
Scalp acne, the mildest form of which is also known as scalp folliculitis, probably occurs more frequently than most people realize. This form of acne is most often triggered during times of high stress. This irritating scalp condition usually develops whenever the scalp becomes oilier than usual, such as when the hair isn't washed frequently or when hair care products that contain a considerable amount of oil are used.
Scalp acne is very itchy and that makes it difficult for those who have it to leave it alone. In its mildest form, the pustules are small, crusty, and they're sore. They appear mainly on the upper forehead at the hairline. A person can have just a few pustules or there can be many.
A more severe form of the problem called acne necrotica miliaris is characterized by inflamed larger papules with black-colored crusts. This form of acne can leave behind scars that resemble those resulting from Chicken Pox. There is an even more severe form of scalp acne that primarily affects adult African-American men, but can actually affect anybody, regardless of race or sex. This extremely rare condition is a combination of large cysts and smaller pustules and papules that grow to be very large.
Treatment for Scalp Acne
The mild form of scalp acne can be treated the way most other acne is treated. Keep the affected area clean by using a product that contains salicylic acid. Remember though that these products can cause excessive dryness so use only on affected areas. For better control, apply using a cotton ball.
Since oily hair is a contributing factor to scalp acne, using shampoo that is formulated for oily hair and scalp is another good option. Hair care products designed especially to treat seborrhea have also been used successfully. And since many people use more than just shampoo on their hair, it's a good idea to check the labels on all hair care products and make changes as necessary.
Never attempt to treat the more severe forms of scalp acne without first speaking to a doctor or a dermatologist.
One thing that should not be used to treat scalp acne is any product that contains benzoyl peroxide. The peroxide, when it comes into contact with hair, can change the color of the hair and result in a less-than-desirable look. Those who have chemically-textured their hair (for example those with perms) or color-treated their hair are most prone to hair trouble when benzoyl peroxide comes into contact with hair.