Last updated on November 28th, 2017 at 04:15 pm
Pimples are skin disorders that affect the hair follicles and commonly appear on the face but can also be seen on scalp, chest, back, breast, and neck among other body parts. This condition is common during teenage years but can also occur in adulthood or later in your life.
Now, what causes pimples on scalp and how can they be identified? Who is vulnerable and how can they be treated? Go through this articles for more information.
Causes and symptoms
Their formation is just a similar process to the formation of pimples in other parts of the body.
Usually, sebaceous gland, which is situated deep into the skin, is connected to a hair follicle and secrete sebum. Sebum secreted by sebaceous glands flows through the follicles to reach the skin surface and hydrate the skin. These his is a normal process of ensuring your skin is supple, hydrated and functioning normally.
Now, how do they form? Well, pimples normally develop following combination of three factors and these are:
- Overproduction of sebum by sebaceous glands
- Pores getting clogged
- Canonization of bacteria that may trigger inflammation hence the body immune system sends white blood cells to fight the bacteria
When hair follicle gets blocked, they enlarge to form a small lump. When the lump rupture, the bacteria (Propionibacterium acnes) will be allowed deep into the follicles. It will reproduce their rapidly leading to inflammation in the follicle.
Again, when the follicles are clogged near the surface, there may be the development of whiteheads and blackheads while deeper blockage leads to pustules, nodules, and cysts (under the skin acne).
Next, we have to look at several factors that contribute to the formation of these scalp zits. These factors influence the formation by either enhancing sebum production or clogging the hair follicles and hence attracting bacteria to cause inflammation. Below are the factors that contribute:
1. Overproduction of body oils (sebum)
Because body oils (sebum) plays a great role in the formation of pimples, when their production is increased, the chances of pores being clogged is also high. There are several factors that can enhance over-production of body oils. Examples include hormones, genetics, certain medications and more.
2. Hormonal changes
One of the major reason why you may suffer head zits or acne is the fluctuation of body hormones. This commonly occurs during menopause, before and during periods or during pregnancy. As a result, your body will react by overproducing sebum.
For adolescents, which is the most susceptible group, the development acne on various parts of their body is linked to the beginning of puberty. During this stage, the activities of the oils producing glands are increased leading to clogged pores and hence attracting bacterial infection. This will influence reproduction of pathogenic microflora inside the follicles leading to inflammation
3. Greasy scalp
Medical experts and researchers have shown that oily hair or skin can greatly influence the formation this acne type. When scalp stay oily, it will lead to plugged pores after some time. The condition can be more serious for those bearing excessively oily skin. If excess sebum is not treated or well cleaned, breakout on the scalp may take the course. This condition can also lead to bumps on scalp under hair.
4. Scalp Folliculitis
When you suffer inflamed pimples on scalp, bear in mind that, it could be a sign of folliculitis, a condition caused when the hair follicle is damaged by mites, bacteria or fungus invasion. This condition is more common among people who have a very oily scalp.
Mild case of swill banish of their own but severe cases such boils, scarring and follicle damages will require doctor`s intervention.
5. After shaving
Shaving your head hair can also lead to pimples like bumps or ingrown hair that will look zits like if they get infected. This may also trigger razor bumps especially when right and proper shaving techniques is not considered. Shaving the wrong direction, shaving using blunt or improper tools are just some of the reasons. T
6. Eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis
Eczema and psoriasis are skin disorders that manifest themselves through inflamed bumps. Eczema, in particular, is associated with dry itchy skin on scalp due to dandruff. Eczema bumps are triggered by excessive sebum which encourages overgrowth of some skin fungus cells resulting these pimple-like bumps.
Dermatitis Herpetiformis can cause small bumps too. The bumps may spread to others parts e.g. elbows, knees, back, bottoms and shoulder
7. Skin cancer
Skin cancer is characterized by black lesions or pink waxy bumps. Oozing bumps could just be an indication of the presence this problem. However, before you get worried, you need to know the lesions do not heal or go away and you will also have other symptoms.
- Stress and depression
- Dairy products
- Hot, humid conditions
- Environmental factors, such as pollution
- Certain medication involving application of drugs such as corticosteroids, lithium, and estrogen or Treatments involving androgen
- Friction or pressure, as a result of wearing caps and helmets.
- Hair products such as hair care oils and gels have the potential to cause blocked pores
- HIV and lupus can also trigger pimple-like bumps especially back of the scalp
- Hair braiding or extensions
Appearances of scalp acne
Scalp acne has several manifestations or symptoms. Mild variations may just signalize another thing altogether. They can have different shapes, colors, sizes and also different meaning a well as triggers. So below are the variations or types and meaning of these head bumps or zits:
1. Small Bumps
Small raised usually forms due to one or another of the factors mentioned above. The small pimples may be red, yellow or white accompanied by a headache or pain.
These bumps can just disappear of their own but sometimes, the opposite may also happen. This could mean something serious such as cancer, baldness or hair loss. See your doctor if they won’t go away
2. Itchy Red ones
This may signalize the infestation lice. As they pierce your scalp to feed on your blood, you may develop itchy small bumps. Such bumps are not usually painful to touch.
In addition, itchy zits can also be influenced by stress, allergy response among other factors. They can appear with or without dandruff.
3.Sore or painful kinds
When inflamed, they can be very painful to touch. They sore or painful ones include pustules, nodules, and cysts. These types acne form deeper in the skin hence can be large and severe. Soreness in this type of acne on head begins with scratching or combing your hair. This will attract bacterial infection into the tissues triggering reddening, pain, soreness as well as scalp scabs. Such zits can be filled with pus and turn into boils.
Stopping activities such as rough combing, braiding or plating may help to limit their severity.
4. Non-Itchy scalp bumps
There are also those, which don’t itch. These form when the bacterial infection is not attracted to cause inflammation. Non-itchy type of acne mainly is blackheads and whitehead pimples. They are considered mild forms of acne.
5, Those under the hair
Sometimes these zits or bumps cannot be visible due to the fact that your thick hair may be concealing them. You may only feel them during shampooing, hair styling when you comb or scratch your hair.
Some bumps do not only appear under the hair but also occur below the scalp skin. There are several reasons behind this. Livingstrong.com states that “Skin conditions that cause bumps on other areas of your body may also cause bumps to form on your scalp; however, certain conditions affect the scalp more than other locations”.
Commonly factor that can influence their development includes lice infestation as well as psoriasis. There are linked symptoms that may help you notice their presence i.e. they may feel hard and painful to touch. It would be therefore a good idea to see your doctor for proper diagnosis if you are unsure
In toddlers, babies, Newborns
Almost ¼ of newborn suffers a skin disorder called baby acne. This is due to the presence of residual maternal hormones which was present during pregnancy and extended to the first stages of the baby`s life. Listed below are the reason that can trigger this problem among toddlers:
- Heat rash
- Bacterial or viral infection
- Yeast infection
Whenever your baby falls a victim of baby acne on the scalp, don’t treat the condition at home. Visit your doctor for effective diagnosis and treatment.
Warning: popping your baby’s scalp pimple or applying astringent or strong topical solutions to cure the disorder is dangerous. Your baby`s skin is still weak and may be very sensitive!
Treatment and home remedies
If you suffer the previous discussed scalp pimples symptoms, then below are treatment that will help you get rid of such scalp bumps?
Shampoos containing sulfide or salicylic acid can be very effective in getting rid of those itchy bumps especially caused by ringworms. For effective result, combine medicated shampoo and anti-fungal medications as well as better hygiene practices. Do not share combs and brushes with other persons.
For bumps due to seborrhea dermatitis, tar based shampoos can be the right tool. Get your doctor to do shampoo prescription for you.
- Menscience Daily Shampoo
- Kiehl’s tea tree oil shampoo
- Jason tea tree oil scalp normalizing shampoo
b). Topical and Oral Antibiotics
In case of infections, your doctor may prescribe topical antibiotics to cure pimples caused by folliculitis. To stop itching, red bumps on the scalp, use steroid based creams. Oral antibiotics can be appropriate for severe breakouts but be aware, they have dreadful side effects. Don’t use them without prescription.
This kind of medication is employed for severe and persistent pimples or acne. This is a strong medication that has very serious effects such as infertility. They are only applied where other treatments are barely effective.
Apart from the above treatments, your doctor may also prescribe anti-androgen agents, combined oral contraceptives, aczone as well as retinoids.
d). Home remedies
For the less severe case that may not require doctor`s intervention, you can employ natural home remedies. Below are some of the top-rated home remedies:
- Application of tea tree oil
- Application cider vinegar
- Application of Aloe vera
- Application of coconut oils
Some ways of getting rid of scalp pimples may seem to be more of behavioral changes than medical procedures. So under this section, we are going to highlight some of the behavioral changes that would help you to reduce get rid of them.
- Regularly washing your head to avoid dead skin cells accumulation and building up of sebum.
- Do not strain your hair too much when wearing braids or extension
- Restrain from putting on caps or helmets on your head but if it is a must, make sure you wash them regularly
- Follow correct procedures when shaving.
- Avoid exposing yourself to sun for longer period
- Avoid polluted environment
- Take a bath immediately after doing an exercise or anything that made you sweat
- Watch also on your diet
- Be close to your doctor and let him/her know the onset of any pimples symptom
In summary, pimples on the scalp are usually mild but can be very dreadful when allowed to thrive. So you should respond promptly to any symptom the moment you notice. Note that, over the counter products or home remedies should only be applied for mild forms of pimples but still doctor`s intervention is required. For pimples triggered by certain diseases, the best remedy will be solving the linked diseases first.