Pimples on Head Causes, Treatment and Remedies

Pimples on the scalp are not as common as pimples on the face, chest, and back, but they do appear. Sometimes one does not realize they have them until you accidentally touch them with a comb. The hair does a good job of hiding zits on the scalp.

When the pimples on scalp become irritated or many, it becomes hard to shampoo or blow dry the hair. The pimples on the head also become infected if picked or scratched. It’s difficult to treat pimples under the hair since some products may bleach the hair, make the hair look dirty or lead to greasy hair.

Pimples on the scalp are formed just the same way any other part of the body is formed. Sebum is a layer of oil produced by the skin for its protection. Sebum uses pores to move up to the surface of the skin. The pores, however, can get clogged by dead skin cells, excess oil and bacteria. Bacteria then multiplies when trapped in the sebum to form a pre-pimple (microcomedone). The microcomedone then becomes larger and can now be visible to become a comedone (whitehead or blackhead). If it becomes inflamed and red it fills with pus to form a pimple.

Pimples on the head
How they look like


What causes them

Pimples on scalp causes are due to a blockage of the skin pores in this area. It’s a bit hard to pinpoint what causes the blockage but hormones play a huge part. The quantity of oil produced by your skin is also another leading cause and those with oily skin can attest to being prone to acne.

The scalp also produces sebum and hair tends to hold the sebum very close to it. This contributes to an oil buildup which is made worse by products we use on our hair like conditioners, styling gels, and hair foods. These contribute to the clogging of pores.

The scalp pimples can also be because of seborrheic dermatitis which occurs due to an excess production of oil by the skin and yeast Malassezia. Some of its triggers include poor personal hygiene, stress, lotions that contain alcohol and obesity. Red bumps and scaling appear.

Other conditions that cause pimples on the head include stress, hot conditions, exposing the scalp to certain oils and chemicals, friction caused by helmets and hereditary acne.

Pimples on head scalp symptoms

The symptom of head acne include:

  • mild acne on the forehead region just near the hairline
  • when the hair follicles get infected by bacteria, fungus or virus, they cause scalp folliculitis, a severe condition.
  • tiny superficial pustules (acne necrotic) and small itchy pustules
  • red bumps
  • crusting and oozing
  • hair matting
  • scarring and balding especially if pimples are left untreated for long.

Treatment options

One cannot stop using hair products, so, how do we prevent and treat scalp pimples?

Over the counter medications

You can treat seborrheic dermatitis using shampoos that contain medications. If the case is serious, visit a doctor so they can recommend the best shampoo.

Pimples on the scalp caused by folliculitis can be treated with oral antibiotics. This will treat the infection while reducing inflammation and itching. If not treated folliculitis can spread to the bloodstream and lymph nodes causing very painful boils that scar the skin. Permanent hair loss may also occur if the hair follicles get destroyed.

Use of benzoyl peroxide

This ingredient is common in most washes and lotions for acne. It kills bacteria and clears away dead skin cells and excess oils. Care should be taken when using it since it can lead to bleached hair and clothes if too much of it is used. Other side effects include redness, scaling of the skin and dry skin.

Using salicylic acid

Found in most medicated wipes and facial washes, it prevents pores from getting clogged and unclogs those clogged. It also shrinks the pimples. Side effects of using it include mild stinging sensation and skin irritation.


If the bumps are painful, chronic and boil like, then they will require being drained surgically. This will relieve the pain and increase recovery time.

Home Remedies

  • use tea tree oil as an antiseptic. It can be contained in some shampoos or used in its purest form.
  • Use aloe Vera in any form and apply it to the affected area
  • Blue clay masks will help clear acne and make the hair strong and shiny.
  • Use a honey mask. Apply on the scalp for 20 minutes then rinse. Mix 2 spoons of honey with a spoon of cinnamon and mix.

How to prevent painful pimples on scalp

There are different ways to ensure you prevent your scalp from getting prone to pimples. These will also help you take care of the scalp if it has these zits.

  • Let the scalp breathe especially if you wear helmets or baseball caps often. These cause friction and pressure to it and this can trigger pimples. Remove the helmet from time to time to let the it breathe or wear an absorbent headband underneath the helmet.
  • Shower immediately you remove the helmet with shampoo
  • If a product irritates your scalp the first time you use it, avoid using it again.
  • Use water-based products or those labeled noncomedogenic as they tend not to clog the pores.
  • Try applying hair products on the main strands without letting them touch the scalp or hairline.
  • Regularly wash your hair. If prone to pimples, wash it every day to reduce oils in your hair. You can avoid conditioner since by helping to moisturize hair, the conditioner may cause too much oil to be trapped in the scalp.
  • Comb your hair daily to remove dead skin cells and break from the scalp any hairs joined to it by natural oils.
  • If you keep getting pimples on your scalp, consider shaving it. Short hair decreases the amount of dirt, oil, and bacteria your pores will hold.


If the painful pimples on the scalp become persistent and fail to respond to over the counter medications and home remedies, visit a dermatologist. If the bumps get infected as you treat them, wash the head twice a day with antibacterial soap. Do not shave during treatment.


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