You may have noticed that your scalp is becoming more oily than usual. Perhaps it is something you have dealt with for years and can’t seem to find a solution. We are here to help. Dr. Shari Sperling is a board-certified dermatologist who founded Sperling Dermatology in New Jersey. She is here to answer all our questions regarding scalp, hair health and beauty.
- WHAT TYPES ARE THE PIMPLES ON A SCALP?
It could be many things. It could be a pimple or pustule, larger cyst, or a lump on your body. This is the most often problems. It sounds obvious but we forget to care for our scalps.
Sperling explains that natural oils and bacteria from the scalp can cause hair follicle blockages, which can lead to breakouts. Other reasons you might have bumps on your scalp are fungal infections, ingrown or skin conditions such as alopecia.
- WHAT CAUSES A PIMPLE ON YOUR SCALP?
Pimples are usually caused by excess oils and bacteria buildup on the hair follicles.
Sperling says that ingrown hairs are common with curly, short and dark hair types. This is because the hair curls up and then goes back into the skin, causing inflammation around hair follicles. We’ll discuss preventative measures in the future.
- How do you distinguish between a RUN-OF–THE-MILL PIMPLE or INGROWN and something more serious like SKIN CANCER.
Sperling advises that if something seems suspicious or it feels strange because it is difficult to see your scalp, you should get it examined by a board certified dermatologist to ensure it is not anything else.
Note: Your dermatologist will inspect your scalp and screen you for skin cancer as part of your regular skin checks. Sperling says that scalp acne, or folliculitis, is common in multiple areas on the scalp. If it’s a single lesion, it would be worth having it checked out.
- WHAT TIME WILL IT TAKE FOR PIMPLES TO HEAL?
Most pimples will disappear within one week. A dermatologist may recommend that you have the bump checked if it doesn’t disappear after a few weeks.
- ANY TIPS FOR PREVENTION?
Sperling advises that regular hair washing is the best way to prevent future breakouts. She also recommends that you avoid using products with excessive oils, which can cause irritation to your scalp.
Some products may contain comedogenic ingredients that can clog pores. Sulfates, laureth-4 and other common ingredients in shampoos and conditioners are to be avoided. The American Academy of Dermatology advises that you avoid shampoos and conditioners that contain a lot of oil. Instead, look for words such as “won’t clog pores”, “oil-free,” “non-comedogenic” or “non-acnegenic”.
You can try gently washing your hair with tea tree shampoo if you have ingrown hairs. Make sure to massage the shampoo in. The antibacterial and salicylic acids in tea tree will gently exfoliate your hair and prevent it from becoming infected. Avoid rubbing the scalp with a brush or using hair accessories that could further irritate the skin.
These are just a few more of the best practices:
- After exercising or sweating, wash your hair immediately.
- Be gentler when shampooing (use the pads of your fingertips, not your fingernails)
- Take extra care when removing makeup, especially along the hairline.
- More often change your pillows and sheets
THE BEST PRODUCTS THAT HELP SCALP ACNE?
Dr. Sperling suggests that you first try over-the-counter shampoos that have salicylic acid. She says that sometimes an antifungal shampoo may also be helpful. “But, if an OTC product doesn’t provide relief for you for several weeks, you should consult a board-certified dermatologist to get a more thorough look and better treatment options.
Below are some of our top-rated clarifying shampoos, treatments and products.
1. NEUTROGENA SAL T/SAL SCALP BUILDUP CONTROL THERAPEUTIC SHAMPOO
Dr. Sperling and many other dermatologists have recommended this shampoo. It contains salicylic acid, which helps clear pores and break up any buildup without using any fragrances or preservatives that could potentially cause irritation to the scalp. It can also be used to reduce itching and clear any flaking from other skin conditions such as seborrheic or psoriasis.
2. NIZORAL KETOCONAZOLE ANTI DANDRUFF SHAMPOO 1%
This shampoo’s main ingredient is Ketoconazole. It is an antifungal medication most commonly used for treating seborrheic and dandruff. It reduces yeast overgrowth on the scalp and skin. It can be used twice per week in place of regular shampoo to clear up the situation.
3. PAUL MITCHELL TEA TREE SPECIAL SHAMPOO
Another derm fav? This shampoo contains tea tree oil. This naturally antiseptic ingredient clears pores, and it also gives you a cooling or tingling sensation to your scalp. It’s important to massage it in gently.
4. DRUNK ELEPHANT T.L.C. HAPPY SCALP SCRUB
This cult-favorite skincare brand has expanded to haircare earlier in the year. This is a standout product in the range. This gentle scalp scrub features an AHA/BHA combination, biodegradable exfoliating beads, and marula oil to remove dead skin cells and product buildup. It also hydrates your scalp. The pointed tip allows for a more precise application of the scrub throughout your hair. It can also be used on your skin.
5. BRIOGEO SCALP CHARCOAL + COCONUT OL MICRO-EXFOLIATING SHAMPOO
The combination of detoxifying charcoal and hydrating Coconut oil helps to eliminate buildup without drying the scalp. A trifecta of peppermint oil, spearmint oil, and tea tree oil will help to soothe itching and irritation while giving you the best zing.
6. CLN HEALTHY SHAMPOO
This doctor-formulated shampoo contains both sodium hypochlorite and salicylic acid to quickly remove any oils, dead skin cells, and residue from your hair follicles.
Tip: Let the shampoo sit on your scalp up to 5 minutes after you have lathered it. Rinse off with water.