Acne can appear on the scalp just like it appears on the face and other parts of the body. The scalp has pores that excrete oil (sebum) to the surface of the scalp, just like the rest of the body. When the bacteria already on the scalp combine with sebum and dead skin cells, the pores get clogged and that leads to an acne breakout.
There are lots of factors that contribute to scalp acne such as hormonal changes, unhealthy diet, allergic reactions, poor hygiene, living in humid conditions, pollution, exposure to certain chemicals and oils, and mechanical factors like wearing tight headgear or habitually scratching your scalp.
Here are 18 easy ways to get rid of scalp acne.
1. Eat Healthy
To cure acne, diet plays a vital role. Your body’s largest organ is your skin, and problems on its surface are often a sign of underlying issues. Sometimes, simply treating it from the outside may not heal the scalp acne. Eating a well-balanced diet is very important to nourish and heal your skin from the inside.
2. Drink More Water
The simplest way to get rid of scalp acne is just drinking plain water throughout the day. Water not only hydrates your skin but also it helps to evacuate waste materials from your body which if not removed may cause other problems. Aim to drink 2-3 liters of water daily. You can add a little flavor to water like chamomile or mint tea.
Another simple way to fight scalp acne is exercise. It not only helps keep your hormones in balance; it also helps reduce levels of stress. This is very important because scalp acne is often caused by stress or hormonal changes. Moreover, when you exercise, you sweat more regularly, which increases free flow of sebum. Therefore, your blocked pores get unclogged. To get healthy scalp and shiny hair, try to work out at least three times a week for at least 30 minutes.
According to a study, there is a link between stress and the severity of pimples. So you need to just relax. Stop worrying about what happened or what is to happen. To reduce your stress levels, you can try yoga, meditation, gardening, biking, going for walks, spending time with family and friends, playing music or sports.
5. Get Some Sunlight
As long as the weather allows you, expose your skin to sunshine each day. Even if it’s for a few minutes, it works. Because, natural sunlight has incredible healing powers for your scalp acne. On the other hand, too much sunlight can increase inflammation and redness on acne, so limit your time in the sun.
6. Avoid Hot Water
To feel good, you may take a steamy hot shower. However, it’s one of the worst things you can do to your scalp and hair. Hot water not only strips natural oils, but also it can make your pimples inflamed and red. So, you better use warm water to wash your hair and then you can end with cool water to help tighten your pores.
7. Apply Salicylic Acid
One of the most commonly used topical acne ingredients is salicylic acid. It is found in most facial washes and medicated wipes. There are lots of benefits of it such as preventing pores from clogging. It can also unclog pores that have already become plugged, and shrink existing pimples on the scalp or elsewhere on the body. However, it has side effects like skin irritation and a mild stinging sensation.
8. Avoid Over-Washing Your Hair
Avoid washing your hair every day, if you are suffering from on-going acne problems. Your scalp can be irritated and acne can be worse by frequent washing. Moreover, if you over-wash your hair, you can end up drying out your scalp, which will then try to compensate by secreting much more sebum. Unfortunately, as you know excess sebum production is the major cause of acne. You can wash your hair once in every two days. If your hair becomes oily in between, use an herbal rinse to freshen up instead of shampooing again. To do that, mint and green tea rinse are useful.
9. Check Your Shampoo
Shampoos that contain lots of fragrance and harmful synthetics can irritate skin and cause pimples on your scalp, face and neck. You can try a sulphate-free shampoo with natural fragrance.
10. Avoid Conditioners
Conditioners cover the hair and scalp and they may cause too much oil to be trapped. Also, hair styling products like hair pomades, creams or gels can clog your pores and increase the chances of pimples. For this reason, you should give them a break. If you need to use, try products that are water-based, or look for products labeled as non-comedogenic, meaning they’re less likely to clog your pores and cause an acne breakout.
11. Change Your Pillow Case Weekly
Every night, all of the sweat, oil and dirt from your head are passing into your pillow case. For this reason, when you don’t wash them regularly, you’re basically putting your head on a pillow of sweat and dirt for 6-8 hours. Unclean, dirty pillow cases and towels is perfect place for bacteria to grow and this causes an acne breakout. So, you should wash your pillow case and towels at least weekly.
12. Clean Your Comb
Clean your brush/comb every time you wash your hair, if you don’t want to put the oil, dirt and dead skin cells from your comb back into your hair. Because, less oil and dirt also means less acne. To clean your brush, mix a couple of drops of shampoo and warm water in a cup, rinse with water and let it dry. Don’t share your combs, brushes and hair accessories with your family and friends because the bacteria that cause the problem can be transferred.
13. Take a Shower After Exercise
While sweating is actually good for your skin, after the sweat dries, it clogs your pores. Therefore, pimples get worse. You don’t have to use shampoo or soap to clean the sweat. Warm water and some scrubbing will be enough.
14. Let Your Scalp Breathe
Wearing a hat, scarf or tight hair style all the time can cause sebum to build-up in your head. You don’t have to stop wearing hats and scarves. You can just keep your hair loose and uncovered for a few days until your acne goes away. Also, showering immediately after removing your hat/helmet and using shampoo may also decrease the incidence of scalp pimples.
15. Cut Your Hair
If you are suffering from scalp pimples, cutting your hair to a more manageable length and thickness may help reduce acne. Having shorter or thinner hair can help decrease the amount of oil, dirt, and bacteria held by your hair.
16. Use Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is also helpful to beat scalp acne because it has antibacterial and antiseptic properties and helps clear the hair follicles of bacteria and oil that cause acne. Furthermore, it regulates the pH balance of the scalp to prevent further breakouts.
- Mix apple cider vinegar with an equal amount of warm water, and rinse your washed hair with this mixture.
- Wait for 5-7 minutes and then rinse your hair again with clean water.
- You can do it every time you shampoo your hair.
Do not apply undiluted apple cider vinegar on your hair because it can be too strong for your scalp.
17. Use Tea Tree Oil
One of the effective remedies for scalp acne and other scalp issues is tea tree oil. This essential oil acts as an antiseptic and it helps disinfect the pores and quickly dry out acne. Moreover, it kills the bacteria that cause acne and also reduces the redness and itchiness.
- Add 2-3 drops of tea tree oil to your regular shampoo (2 to 3 drops per ounce of shampoo).
- Then, use it to wash your hair daily.
- When you use this mixture, be sure to leave your shampoo in your hair for a couple of minutes before rinsing it off.
It is highly recommended to do a patch test if you are using it for the first time, because some people may have an allergic reaction to tea tree oil.
18. Use Garlic
Garlic is another popular kitchen ingredient that helps cure scalp acne. It contains antioxidant, antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial properties that help heal scalp acne caused by a bacterial infection. You can alleviate the inflammation, reduce the pain and speed up the healing process by using garlic.
- Boil 4-6 peeled garlic cloves in 3 cups of water for 5 minutes.
- Let it cool down and remove the garlic cloves.
- Then rinse your hair with this mixture.
- After 10 minutes, rinse your hair with clean water.
- Apply this remedy once a day.
Other Tips to Get Rid of Scalp Acne
- To relieve discomfort and help pimples drain, you can apply a warm, moist towel or compress on the affected area several times a day, if you need.
- To decrease the risk of infection, you should avoid shaving your head while you are suffering from scalp acne.
- Do not squeeze or scratch pimples, because it can cause infection and slow down the healing process.
- You can consume detox drinks to cleanse your body of toxins and wastes which lead to skin problems.
- Do not consume oily, deep-fried and spicy foods.
- When you are exposed to sun, you should protect your head from direct sunlight.
When to See Your Doctor
If your scalp acne is getting too painful or it does not show signs of healing, you should visit a dermatologist for proper diagnosis and treatment. Then, an appropriate shampoo or medication based on your own personal requirements might be prescribed.