By: Dr. Loretta Lanphier, ND, CN, HHP, CH

Scalp acne, medically known as scalp folliculitis, is a skin disorder that strikes millions of Americans annually. It is an inflammatory condition of the hair follicles located in the scalp and it can be very aggravating to the skin. Scalp acne is typified by the occurrence of small pustules or lesions on the scalp that can also be extremely itchy. These blemishes are often hard for patients to leave alone because of the intense itching.

Acne necrotica is a more advanced form of scalp acne that is also known as acne varioliformis or acne frontalis. Acne necrotia is characterized by blemishes that tend to become very inflamed. They then crust over, and turn black, often leading to permanent scarring. In addition to the scalp, acne necrotia can also spread to the face and other parts of the body.

What Causes Scalp Acne?

As it is with all types of acne, the exact cause of scalp acne is not known for certain. It is most likely a combination of factors. As with other acnes, most scalp acne is triggered when the oil glands (sebaceous glands) of the skin on the scalp produce too much oil (sebum). The glands then become blocked with oil, dead skin cells, and other skin debris, and the result is pimples, pustules, and other lesions that are the trademarks of acne. Poor scalp hygiene may also be a contributing factor, and folks who have flaky or dry skin are also more prone to scalp acne. Other aggravating factors include over-exposure to the sun, the use of certain medications, caffeine, and spicy foods.

Preventing Scalp Acne

Keep Clean

The most important step you can take to prevent scalp acne is to keep the scalp clean and free of skin debris at all times. Be thorough, but use a gentle cleanser. Never scrub or get rough with your scalp, as this can cause irritation which will worsen scalp acne. Clean your hair and scalp daily with a mild, organic cleanser.

Use Protection

Protect the skin of your scalp from the damaging rays of the sun. When you apply natural sunscreen, don’t forget about your scalp. It is also wise to always wear a hat when you are in the sun to protect the fragile skin on your scalp.

Eat Your Veggies

While there is no direct connection between diet and acne, what you eat does affect your overall health in general, and that of your skin in particular. A diet high in whole, organic foods like fruits and vegetables will ensure adequate and varied nutrition. Many scalp acne patients also find that avoiding refined carbohydrates and other processed foods lessens scalp acne breakouts.

Drink Purified Water: Drinking lots of purified water is crucial to your wellness, and specifically beneficial to the health of your skin. Staying well-hydrated circulates nutrients and eliminates waste products more efficiently. Water also helps by diluting sebum, thus the chance of acne blemishes is reduced. Aim for 8 glasses of purified water every day.

Treating Scalp Acne

Scalp acne usually needs to be treated with the help and advice of a natural skin care professional. The many over-the-counter preparations that are available for other types of acne are typically not very effective on scalp acne. Focus on keeping your scalp and hair very clean, especially if you have oily skin. Sometimes a mild shampoo or cleanser with zinc in the formula may be beneficial. Be sure to avoid any soaps or shampoos that contain harsh chemicals such as lauryl sulphate (coconut oil) or any cleanser that is oil-based. Check with your dermatologist or natural health care practitioner for further suggestions.

About the Author

Loretta Lanphier, ND, CN, HHP, CH is a Doctor of Naturopath, Clinical Nutritionist, Holistic Health Practitioner and Clinical Herbalist in Houston, TX and Founder / CEO of Oasis Advanced Wellness. Under her leadership, Oasis Advanced Wellness is known and respected as one of the leading companies in providing safe and clean hi-tech natural health and wellness solutions. Because of the need for high-end natural and organic skin care products, Dr. Lanphier has developed Lanique Organics, an all-natural skin-care line which promotes natural health for the skin.