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Scalp Acne 101: Why & How To Treat It

2 mins

Akhila Jerripothula

Scalp acne can not only be unsightly, but also very painful and damaging to your hair. Find out what is causing acne on scalp and how to fight if off!

One of the most common skin issues people deal with doesn’t just happen on your face! Our scalp is also susceptible to irritation, clogged pores, and other things that the rest of our skin experiences. It’s not out of place to suffer from pimples on your scalp, aka “scalpne”. While fun to say, it is not fun to deal with and can cause unpleasant irritation without you even knowing. Scalpne can not only be unsightly, but also very painful! And worse-- those pimples can cause ancillary skin issues around the affected areas, like dandruff or dry patches. 

What Is Scalpne?

In the simplest terms, scalpne is when your pores/hair follicles are blocked with excess sebum, and bacteria. Just like the skin on your face, outside irritants can clog the pores on your scalp to cause irritated bumps. Since it’s difficult to see the skin on your own head, scalp care is often neglected. Just how everyone’s skin is different and requires different routines, so does everyone’s scalp! 

Why Does Scalp Acne Occur?

In general, the reason for pimples can be narrowed down to a couple of things-- stress, bacteria, hormonal imbalances, eating certain foods, and abnormal immune responses. Conditions like PCOS, using birth control, or having common scalp conditions like dandruff can cause these bumps on your scalp. It’s important to address condition concerns with your medical professional, as an underlying issue could be the cause of those pesky scalp pimples. 

If you’re looking for a culprit you can get under control, look at the products you use near or on your scalp. Using hair styling products, and improper washing of build-up and leftover residue and dead skincells on your scalp will inevitably clog pores. If sebum and oil build up is left alone, you’re asking for pimples to form! Ever brush over scalp acne? Ouch! Using a proper washing routine is key,  here’s how. 

How To Fight Scalp Acne

Really Rinse

There’s a few key tips and tricks you can do to prevent scalp acne. The first is making sure you thoroughly rinse away leftover face wash, makeup, or anything else on your hairline. That area is prime for breakouts since it’s often neglected. Getting your edges wet is worth it to properly cleanse away product residue that would be clogging your pores. 

DIY Scalp Scrub

For your hair routine, try a DIY scalp scrub to exfoliate, remove dead skin cells and treat your scalp. Mix 1 part sugar (make sure the crystals are large enough to scrub with, unlike powdered sugar) with 1 part of WOW Skin Science's Castor Oil to nourish and stimulate healthy hair growth. Finish with a drop or two of an essential oil like Tea Tree Oil, or Lavender Essential Oil for their antibacterial and antifungal properties. Once mixed thoroughly, apply it to your scalp and scrub in circular motions with your fingertips. 

Clarify + Balance 

Once you’ve exfoliated with your own DIY scrub, use a naturally clarifying shampoo like WOW Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo to properly clarify the pores of build up, oil, and bacteria. Ethically-sourced Apple Cider Vinegar from the Himalayas helps balance your scalp’s pH for a healthy hair environment. Lastly, using a spray after hair washing or throughout the day will help keep it balanced and soothed. Try WOW Skin Science 10-In-1 Apple Cider Vinegar Mist Tonic for a naturally effective treatment that goes wherever you do!

Key Tips

Even if you follow the routine we mentioned to a T, make sure you stick to these tried and true tips for acne. First, NEVER pick at pimples, especially when it’s not ready to pop. This can lead to deep scarring and more damage than if you left it alone in the first place. Plus, the nails you use to touch your acne can boast bacteria, causing even more acne! With the scabbing and dryness from a picked pimple, subsequent hair loss can be troubling for your journey to healthy hair. 

Secondly, be careful when running your hairbrush through your hair, especially at your scalp! If you are too aggressive or push down too hard on the scalp, you can cause damage to existing pimples (popping them before they’re ready), and causing greater inflammation. Lastly, try to limit hair styling products that leave residue or build-up on the scalp. Products like waxes, pomades, dry shampoo, hairsprays, are definitely prone to doing this. Imagine multiple days of residue piling up on each other, clogging your pores. Ick! If you have to use styling products, opt for lightweight ones and make sure to wash your hair soon after. 


While there is no magic solution to scalp acne, adjusting your routine will be sure to give your scalp a much needed break. Promoting hair growth starts at your scalp. Try these tips and tricks to naturally boost your hair health. Good luck!

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Author: Akhila Jerripothula

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