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What Your Scalp Pimples Really Are

October 2021 | 5 Minute Read 

Clean beauty industry maven Mary Futher founded kaia naturals® after spending 20 years working for global beauty companies. Mary now shares her weekly content series, delivering a quick fix, home remedy, or clean beauty product suggestion for a variety of human discomforts that some may find too embarrassing to discuss.

Do You Have Scalp Pimples?

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You wake up and begin your morning routine, only to notice a sore, red bump making itself right at home on your body. No matter where they pop up, those pimples are not welcome. But the most underestimated spot a pimple-like bump can make an appearance is your scalp… I can almost guarantee you know what I mean.

I asked the girls at kaia HQ if they had ever experienced scalp pimples. Half of them admitted to getting odd pimples on the head here and there but had never really looked into it. If there’s one good thing about scalp pimples, it’s that you don’t see them, which is probably why they don’t get talked about enough! Although that doesn’t mean you should ignore them. Find out why below!

They're More than Just Scalp Pimples

Scalp pimples are actually not zits, but an infection of the hair follicles called folliculitis.

Infection? Sounds really intense, but rest assured, dermatologists say they are very common as most of us may experience folliculitis at some point in our lives.

Researchers from the National Center of Gerontology says it is very easy to misdiagnose folliculitis because it has very similar clinical symptoms to acne. In order to properly diagnose and treat, it’s important to know what they look like.

How Can You Tell If You Have Folliculitis?

These infections mimic acne but can become little pustules (small bumps that contain fluid or pus). If you feel a bump on your scalp, or have itchiness or soreness, part your hair in a way where you can get a good look at the area. If it’s on the back of your head, ask someone to help you take a look. Look for small red acne-like bumps with a small ring of inflammation around the hair follicle. They can sometimes also look like a white-headed pimple on the head, around the hair follicle.

Causes of Folliculitis

According to a study conducted by the National Center of Gerontology, the most common causes of folliculitis is staphylococcus aureus (S.a), a type of bacteria found on the scalp. Not only has staphylococcus aureus been proven to cause dandruff but it can also lead to infections when combined with oil on the scalp. A buildup of dead skin cells and excess sebum on the scalp can end up clogging the hair follicle and staphylococcus bacteria thrives on that. The oilier your scalp is, the more bacteria there will be. Other causes of folliculitis can include viral, fungal, or yeast infections.


Here's How to Avoid It

According to a medical journal by the University of Lübeck, lessening a load of staphylococci bacteria on the scalp is avoiding and treating folliculitis.

Controlling oil production on your scalp is also important in order to prevent the staphylococcus bacteria from growing and causing infections.

TIP: Using an aerosol-free, natural dry shampoo overnight will help soak up excess oil on your scalp. However, avoid product build-up and clogging hair follicles by only using the best powder dry shampoo 1 to 2 times in between washes. Click here to learn more about how to use dry shampoo the right way.

Here's How to Treat Folliculitis

Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse

I know I say this often, but apple cider vinegar is a truly powerful natural ingredient that helps disinfect the scalp and restore healthy pH levels. Mix equal parts of water and ACV and massage through scalp then rinse.

Witch Hazel Toner

Spot treat using an astringent like witch hazel to help dry out the area using a cotton pad or cotton ball. Gently dab on the inflamed area and avoid rubbing the area.

Apple Cider

Tea Tree Oil

Has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties can help treat bacterial infections. Just add one drop of tea tree oil to your shampoo. Avoid using too much as it can cause further irritations.

Sea Salt Closeup

Sea Salt Scrub

Gently exfoliating the scalp can reduce product buildup and dead skin cells.

Visit your doctor or dermatologist

If nothing seems to be working, you may need a prescription shampoo or a topical product.

Did you know about folliculitis? Have you experienced it before? Let us know your experience in the comments below.

Each week on my blog The Little Book of Human Discomforts I share clever solutions for seemingly embarrassing skin, body, and hair issues. Consider subscribing below to be the first to know when new content is live! I also share lots of body and skincare tips on Instagram @kaianaturals and on my TikTok page @madamesweat.

Please refer to the medical disclaimer

All content found on this website is created for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Website. 

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