Zit, Zap, Zoom: Scalp Acne Is A Real Thing And Here’s What You Can Do About It

Anandita MalhotraAnandita Malhotra  |  Aug 23, 2020
Zit, Zap, Zoom: Scalp Acne Is A Real Thing And Here’s What You Can Do About It


If you thought hormonal breakouts on your chin and cheeks were a pain, wait till you start getting acne on your scalp. I hope you never do but the way I go painful zits on my scalp- I wish it upon no one else. Hairline, temples, nape of the neck- they were just everywhere. 

Like all other acne, scalp acne can be caused by a mixture of oil and dead skin cells that get stuck in hair follicles. The reason could range from dandruff and blemishes on the scalp to cysts on the scalp. They could also be caused if you are traveling, stressed, or not sleeping well enough because when the cortisol levels rise, your body is more likely to produce oil, and oil production causes acne.

We suggest that if you are getting frequent scalp zits or acne you should go see a dermatologist because only she will be able to guide you towards the best treatment method for you. This may be because of hormonal reasons or genetic reasons. But if your acne is due to clogged pores, you’re in luck because a good haircare routine can solve your problems.

Could Your Hair Products Be Causing Scalp Acne?


This is totally possible- look at it like this way, will your skin be happy if you sleep with a full face of makeup on? No, it won’t. You’ll probably wake up with a huge zit in the morning because your clogged pores have excess oil and no room to breathe. It’s a similar thing for your scalp too- after all, the skin is skin. So if you coat your hair with loads of hairspray, use dry shampoo excessively, and don’t rinse your hair then you’re bound to have scalp acne. 

If you’ve noticed zits on your scalp, ruling out build-up could be the first place to start- rinse out your hair with a good cleanser every other day or wash your hair with just water especially after a workout and you’ll notice a difference. When you’re combing your hair be gentle as nails and brush bristles could further irritate your acne.

Remember the thumb rule of acne- no picking and no bursting. This could lead to a more chronic problem or hair loss and we don’t want that, do we?

How To Treat Scalp Acne?


As we mentioned above- using a good quality cleanser ever so often is a must. The frequency depends on you but make sure you rinse your hair every other day with just water especially if you workout on the regular. When looking for a shampoo, look for a sulfate-free one that’s loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory ingredients, like rosemary, lavender. Just like you would use chemical exfoliants on your face, using them on your hair is equally important if scalp acne is a major concern for you. A number of medicated shampoos contain ingredients like glycolic or salicylic acid to help with scalp exfoliation and to get rid of the build-up of product and excess oil from the scalp. Your dermatologist will be the best person to guide you as to which shampoo would work best for your hair and scalp. 

Over The Counter Shampoos For Problematic Hair & Scalp

If you’re looking for some over-the-counter alternatives, here are some hair care products in the market that are targetted towards improving the health of your hair and scalp.

This is an all-natural shampoo enriched with lavender essential oil that soothes and calms the scalp to heal irritation and infections. It also has patchouli essential oil acts as a natural antibacterial, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory ingredient.



This product will help you scrub away all the buildup and exfoliate your scalp thoroughly. It’s got Vitroescilla Ferment and micronized Apricot Seeds and Argan Shells which will help you purify and exfoliate and give you a squeaky clean scalp.


This is a sulfate, paraben, silicone-free product, that is infused with Binchotan charcoal which draws out impurities from the scalp and keeps it super clean. It also has a blend of peppermint and spearmint oils reduces scalp itchiness and tea tree oil has anti-septic and healing properties that reduce scalp irritation and inflammation.


This is another Ayurvedic hair cleanser that is sulfate-free and is infused with neem extract that removes bacteria from the scalp to avoid infections and neem to make hair feel softer, more lustrous, and stronger from the roots. 


This plant-based cleanser will gently cleanse and purify your scalp and help you balance sebum levels. It has salicylic acid exfoliates which remove pollutants and build-up on your scalp to give you a fresh appearance. 

Using these products will help rid your scalp of build-up, product residue, and excess oil but if the acne persists, we advise you to see a dermatologist because if it’s a case of hormonal or genetic acne you will require a more targetted medical treatment.

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