So, are you dealing with pimples on your scalp that don’t seem to go away? Learn the causes behind scalp acne and how to banish it once and for all!

It’s probably easier than you think!

scalp acne treatments

Why Do We Get Scalp Acne

Acne can show up on a lot of places on the body. There is no question that if you get breakouts on your face, you probably will have some show up on the scalp too. The causes of scalp acne can be numerous, and I will list a few below.

But first, why do we get scalp acne? It is because sebaceous glands almost always develop alongside a hair follicle. They are all over the skin.

So, you can imagine that your scalp is full of pores and hair follicles – it’s why our hair can get so oily! Where there is a sebaceous gland and sebum, pimples are definitely bound to be there too. 1 NCBI

Just like with the pores of the face, sweat, dirt, oil, and other things can also clog the pores of the scalp, contributing to acne.

Let’s jump into those causes of scalp acne below!

Causes Of Scalp Acne

Here are some reasons why your scalp might be feeling and looking out of whack.


Some people are more prone to getting scalp acne due to genetics! You could produce a lot more sebum and sweat that leads to breakouts on the scalp. While you might not be able to change that, there is always switches you can make that might be the difference!

Hormones are also a big factor for scalp acne.

If you are dealing with acne, check out my archives: How To Get Rid Of Acne for lots of helpful articles.

Excess Sweat/Oil/Dirt

If you have been sweating a lot, working out, or are in the summer months you could be producing a lot of buildup that is clogging the pores of the scalp. If you aren’t showering more frequently in order to keep up with the excess sweat/oil you could be making a problem for yourself.

The combination of sweat, oil, and dirt can be the perfect concoction to create scalp acne.

Wrong Shampoo or Conditioner

I didn’t even realize that a lot of shampoos and conditioners are big culprits behind scalp acne! While you might think it doesn’t affect your scalp, it turns out a lot of the ingredients in shampoo and conditioner aren’t the kindest to it.

Here is an example of what shampoo ingredient causes acne:

Moroccan oil and shea butter! These are found in so many shampoo and conditioners, but it builds up and causes acne. Check out this LONG list of ingredients that cause acne here.

Hair care products contain more of these irritating oils and waxes which can aggravate acne in those already prone, or start breakouts in those who don’t usually get acne.

Here is a scalp friendly shampoo I swear by:

My dad even uses this regularly now and says he notices that he doesn’t get the irritating itchy sores he used to get from regular shampoo. I have to order this from Ulta from him since he has no idea how to do so, or what to order 😂

It specifically says on the bottle that it was made in mind for those suffering from scalp and back acne. The dermatologist that created Seen knew that the wrong shampoo could be the culprit behind skin and scalp acne.

Now that we know what causes to avoid concerning scalp acne, here is what to do to remedy it!

Best Scalp Treatments For Scalp Acne

Want to say bye to scalp acne? Here is how to get rid of scalp acne. Try these treatments to get your scalp back to normal in no time!

Best Shampoos For Scalp Acne

Going back to the Seen Shampoo I mentioned above, I think switching your shampoo can be very beneficial. Seen was created by a dermatologist who specifically knew that a lot of shampoo/conditioner ingredients buildup can cause acne.

Using this shampoo will cleanse the heart and scalp without breakout causing buildup.

I also highly recommend this salicylic acid shampoo from Derma E. This one has been on heavy rotation for me as it can clear up scalp acne, as well as any dandruff or flakes you might have.

Here is how salicylic acid works:

Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid, which has action to normal keratinization, decreases inflammation, and reduces sebum production


It is also not at a bad price point, and easily accessible to most at Ulta.

Oils & Serums

Applying an oil/serum to the scalp can help get rid of scalp acne! Ingredients like salicylic acid, tea tree oil, aloe vera,

People have even been using glycolic acid to get rid of dandruff and other skin issues! This could help clear up scalp pimples as well.


This is also big to get rid of build-up on the scalp. Try a boar bristle brush, or specialized scalp stimulator.


Get the lymph flowing in your scalp! Acne can be caused by stagnant lymph, so don’t forget to massage the scalp to help this as well.

What is Folliculitis on Scalp?

These are pimple-like bumps on scalp that hurt.

Folliculitis is a common skin condition that happens when hair follicles become inflamed. It’s often caused by an infection with bacteria. 

Mayo Clinic

They usually go away on their own but can be caused by a rash from bacteria. Razor bumps, due to ingrown hairs, can also be a form of folliculitis and could happen on the scalp if you use a razor on it.

I hope you find this article helpful! Thanks for reading.

Best, Mia

This content is for informational purposes only, and what has worked for me personally based on my own opinions. I am not a professional/medical doctor, and you should always consult your doctor or dermatologist on what will work best for you. The information presented here is not legitimate, official advice from a professional. If you choose to rely on any information from this blog, you do so at your own risk. Please refer to the “Blog Disclaimer” tab in the menu bar to read more information and the official disclaimer statement.

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