Scalp Acne Treatments for Itch-free Healthier Scalp!


Just like acne elsewhere, acne on the scalp generally occurs when your pores get clogged with dead skin cells and sebum (skin’s natural oil). Scalp acne can be bothersome as it can get itchy and sore when it stays for longer. 

What Causes Scalp Acne?

Here’s what clogs your scalp pores:

  • Oil, as well as dead skin cells, can clog your hair follicles
  • Product build-up or residue left by hair products like shampoo and conditioner
  • Not keeping your scalp clean. 
  • Irregular hair washing 
  • For others, it can happen due to overwashing hair 
  • Covering your scalp with a hat, helmet or anything that causes friction against your scalp. 

How to Treat it?

Use the Right Shampoo & Conditioner 

The most crucial step is to prevent your scalp pores from clogging. Hence, keeping your scalp clean is essential. Try using shampoos and conditioners which have any of the following ingredients:

  • Salicylic acid: It exfoliates dead skin cells, so they do not enter pores and cause acne.
  • Glycolic acid: Helps kill acne-causing micro bacteria.
  • Anti-dandruff shampoos having Ketoconazole or ciclopirox: Acts as an antifungal agent that prevents acne in your scalp. 
  • Tea tree oil: Its antibacterial properties help fight acne.

Dermatologist-Recommended Treatments for Scalp Acne

If nothing works, the best option for you is to get guidance from a dermatologist to avoid worsening your scalp condition and impending hair loss. You may need a prescription treatment to reduce scalp acne inflammation. If you have a severe or persistent case of acne in your scalp, your doctor may recommend:

  • Antibiotic Cream
  • Steroid injections
  • Oral medications
  • Light therapy
  • Isotretinoin

How to Prevent Scalp Acne?

Here are some tips to help you prevent acne in your scalp.

  • Hygiene helps avoid clogged pores. Hence, wash your hair whenever it starts to feel greasy.
  • Wear a loose-fitting helmet to let the scalp breathe.
  • Switch to hypoallergenic hair care products. 
  • Avoid unnecessary hair products with chemicals, such as hair sprays and gels.
  • Get an adequate amount of vitamin A, D, and E in your diet to keep your skin and hair healthy. 
  • If you use hair products like waxes, hair sprays, etc., use a sulfate-free clarifying shampoo to wash it off later. 
  • Keep yourself away from processed foods with high sugar and oil content as it may aggravate your condition. 

A Fact to Remember:

Clarifying shampoos remove dirt, oil, and product build-up from your hair. But, avoid using clarifying shampoo if your hair is heat-treated as it may further dry out your hair.

Summing Up

Determining the exact cause responsible for scalp acne can make it easier to start the treatment. You also need to focus on your lifestyle and diet to prevent it. There can be varied reasons that lead to acne on your scalp. At times, it can occur because of the wrong hair care products. Other times, the reason can be something a bit more complex such as medical conditions. If you feel your situation is worsening and no remedy seems to work, reach out to a dermatologist.


1. Can coconut oil get rid of scalp acne?

Using coconut oil for oiling your hair is a good idea and can help nourish your hair. However, there’s no evidence related to coconut oil helping get rid of acne in your scalp. 

2. Is my shampoo causing acne?

There are chances that your shampoo could be causing acne on your scalp. If you notice any such development after using a shampoo, it is better to skip using it. Look for shampoo or any other hair care product that is suitable for your hair type.

3. How to prevent pimples on the scalp naturally?

Several natural remedies such as aloe vera, tea tree oil, and neem are quite famous. Though, you have to be sure that you aren’t allergic to any of these ingredients. Natural doesn’t mean that it cannot cause any adverse reaction. 

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Picture of Dr Jisha Gomez

Dr Jisha Gomez

She is a highly skilled dermatology physician with strong expertise in improving skin & hair health through the development of corrective treatment combinations. She completed her Post-graduate Diploma in Dermatology from Cardiff, UK & Fellowship in Aesthetic Medicine (FAM) from the Institute of Laser and Aesthetic Medicine, Delhi with over 5+ years experience treating skin patients. She has worked in Government hospitals in Trivandrum and Bangalore. She is actively involved in creating awareness for healthy skin, breaking the social stigma based on skin colour & stopping steroid abuse in our country.