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Blackheads on Scalp: Causes and Treatments


I am a runner. 

My favorite way to release stress, exercise, and get outside time is to head out for a run. When I am out of practice, for whatever reason, I hike or walk. 

I love moving my body outside, and running or walking is both easy and free, which is essential to a work-from-home, homeschooling mom. 

The only problem? 

Once winter comes along here in the Pacific Northwest, the temperatures are near freezing, and I need to wear a beanie to protect my head from the cold. 

Instantly, I get scalp acne. Without fail, every single winter, I get blackheads on my scalp, typically around my hairline. 

It is so frustrating that I have been working on prevention and treatments ever since. 

Table of Contents: 

  • What Are Blackheads and How Do They Get on the Scalp? 
  • 5 Best Ways to Treat Blackheads on Scalp
  • Apple Cider Vinegar for Skin Treatments
  • Shampoos for a Healthy Scalp

What Are Blackheads and How Do They Get on the Scalp?

A blackhead is merely a buildup of oil under the surface of the skin. It appears black because the top of the pore is open to the air, and the oil and dead skin cells that collect there are oxidized, turning the spot black. 

They are rarely inflamed, so they do not appear red as pimples do. They can be very small, but they can also grow quite large. 

scalp blackheads

Blackheads typically get on the scalp from excess oil gathering there. In my case, the sweat from my outdoor workout gets trapped under my beanie, combining with my hair’s natural oils, and blackheads form. 

For others, it could simply be a matter of having more oily skin. Getting rid of them is a matter of consistency and patience. 

You will want to invest in products and ingredients that not only treat the existing blackheads but also prevent them from coming back. 

I, for one, had to decide I would always jump right in the shower and wash my hair after getting home from a run. 

It is not always easy or convenient with kids jumping on me the second I walk in the door, but it has saved my scalp from excessive blackheads, which is worth it. 

You also want to make sure you stay consistent with whatever routine turns out to work for you. You will find that once you break consistency, you are right back where you do not want to be.

5 Best Ways to Treat Blackheads on Scalp

  1. Antimicrobial Shampoo

The first thing to do once you identify blackheads on your scalp is to wash your hair with an antimicrobial shampoo, clearing out all bacteria and fungus. Wash your hair every other day for as long as the blackheads remain. 

  1. Exfoliate

You can gently scrub the surface of your scalp with a shampoo and conditioner brush, which will help remove the dead skin cells and excess oil from the area, making the blackheads more likely to resolve themselves. 

  1. Tea Tree Oil

Once you have washed and exfoliated your scalp, apply tea tree oil. Tea tree oil is a well-known ingredient for acne and an all-natural solution to the problem. 

  1. Garlic Tea Treatment

Garlic is one of those superfoods that treats and prevents pretty much everything. Yes, even scalp acne. Brew up a garlic tea by simmering four cloves of garlic in 2 cups of water, and rinse scalp and hair with the tea once it cools off. 

  1. Apple Cider Vinegar 

Another superfood, apple cider vinegar, is wonderful for acne with all of its antimicrobial properties. Create a rinse by diluting with water, about ½ cup ACV to 1 ½ cups water, and apply to hair and scalp. 

Apple Cider Vinegar for Skin Treatments

You cannot overdo it with apple cider vinegar, as far as I am concerned. ACV is one of those ingredients like coconut oil that I usually have in abundance - one bottle in the bathroom and one bottle in the kitchen. 

It is good for so much. For your scalp, you can invest in a shampoo that contains ACV and still perform regular rinses with an apple cider vinegar solution. 

apple cider vinegar

With 80% of Americans suffering from acne at some point in their lives, it is useful to have apple cider vinegar on hand. 

It has been shown to aid in weight loss, reduce blood sugar levels in diabetics, and help rid the body of bacteria. 

You can drink it and apply it to your skin and expect quality results. When it comes to treating blackheads on the scalp, apple cider vinegar should be at least one of the tools in your treatment kit.

Shampoos for a Healthy Scalp

I included an apple cider vinegar shampoo in the list of products below that may help treat the blackheads on your scalp. Remember, though, that these shampoos can also act as preventatives, so even once you treat the condition, keep up with regular cleanses to ensure you do not repeat a frustrating cycle.  

Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo

Designed to kill the bacteria on your scalp and get your hair clean and shining, this ACV shampoo is a must-have for blackheads. 

apple vinegar cider shampoo

Activated Charcoal Shampoo

As an alternative, I love activated charcoal for drawing away toxins. In shampoo it has the potential to kill the bacteria that may be collecting in and around blackheads. 

Massager Brush

I never turn down an opportunity to exfoliate, and with blackheads on the scalp, this massager will work wonders toward stress relief and blackhead removal. 

Click the links above and browse the ingredients and descriptions to see which products might work best for you.

Shanna Mendez

Shanna Mathews Mendez is a freelance writer and blogger on topics related to self-care, naturopathy, female empowerment, and motherhood. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and children, where she enjoys traveling, being active outdoors, and studying herbalism and plant-based remedies in her free time. Drawing on her graduate degree in comparative literature and her own life experiences, she is currently writing her first book. She can be found online at her website

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