Scalp acne is not the most noticeable problem unless you have very short hair, so it sometimes goes overlooked. For those dealing with scalp acne, however, the problem can be annoying, painful, and often lead to hair loss. These are the common causes and treatments for scalp acne. Of course, as with any medical condition, consult your doctor before undertaking any treatment. Just had to throw that in because it makes our lawyers happy.
Scalp acne occurs when the pores become clogged with dirt and oil. This causes the follicle to swell up and, possibly, become infected with bacteria if the clog is not cleared. The blockage can be caused by overactive sebaceous glands (sometimes as a result of poor diet, hormonal imbalance, stress, or heredity) or by surface debris (often caused by poor hygiene or excessive use of oily styling products). Because hair can help trap dirt and oil next to the scalp, treating this form of acne can be a bit more of a challenge.
To help reduce scalp acne, I recommend shampooing more frequently using a mild shampoo. This will help remove dirt and oil from the scalp. My favorite shampoo for the task is Menscience Daily Shampoo which contains salicylic acid -- this ingredient helps shed dead skin and deep cleans the scalp. The Menscience product is also free of dyes and perfumes.
Of course, you can also treat scalp acne with most any over-the-counter acne product on the market, although you may want to avoid products containing benzoyl peroxide as they can lead to bleaching or discoloration of the hair. I have recommended Clean & Clear Advantage Oil Free Moisturizer (available at supermarkets and drug stores) to many of my clients who have used it with good results. The product is a light moisturizer containing salicylic acid and is especial good if you have short hair. I use the product in the summer when I tend to break out a bit on the back of my neck and it doubles as my styling product. It's free of peroxide, so you don't have to worry about bleaching. When using topical creams, I've found it's much more convenient to maintain a very short hairstyle as well.
Another good idea is to avoid using oily styling products -- opt for products that are light and petroleum free. A quality, light hold gel is a good option. Of course, whichever styling product you use, make sure to wash it from your hair each day before you hit the sack. This will help remove excessive product, dirt, and oil which can clog the pores.
By using the right shampoo and moisturizer, keeping your scalp clean, cutting back on oily styling products, and reducing your stress level, you should be able to dramatically reduce scalp acne. For those with more sever cases, your dermatologist can provide you with additional information and stronger oral or topical medications to help get the problem under control.