23 Jan 2024

What Is Scalp Acne?

Acne is an exceptionally common skin condition. And it’s not just a passing teenage phase either! Many adults are affected, and it can strike at any time or age. Although acne is familiar to many of us, there’s a variant that can often fly under the radar: scalp acne. While it might not be as common as pimples on the face, chest or back, scalp acne is something many live with. It can be frustrating, uncomfortable, and embarrassing. And left untreated, the inflammation and infection caused can damage hair follicles, weakening them and ultimately leading to breakage and loss. Here’s the lowdown on scalp acne – what it is, the causes, and how to tackle it.

So, What Is Scalp Acne?

Scalp acne can flare when hair follicles on the scalp become clogged up with various sorts of matter. This can include oil, dead skin cells, dirt, debris, product and even bacteria. It can appear anywhere on your scalp and along the hairline. Like facial or body acne, it can vary in severity. From small, occasional pimples and whiteheads to large sores - and even deep cysts. All can lead to discomfort and have a major impact on our hair health.  

Scalp Acne Causes

What Is Scalp Acne Blog Oily Hair and Scalp Image


The problem can arise from a variety of factors. The most common cause is excessive oil production. The scalp contains glands that produce sebum, which plays a vital role in maintaining scalp and hair in good condition. But too much sebum leads to clogged pores, triggering acne. Hormonal imbalances - particularly those seen during puberty, menstruation, menopause or during stressful times – can cause sebum production to rocket. Unfortunately, genetics can also dictate levels of sebum production.

Hair product build up can be a major factor in clogged pores. Infrequent hair washing can fuel this. Pollution and humidity also play a role, as they can increase sweat and oil on the scalp, blocking pores and creating an ideal place for acne to take hold. Certain diets also contribute to excess sebum production.

Tackling The Problem

If you’re one of the many who suffer with scalp acne, then there are steps you can take to improve and help prevent the problem.

Regular Washing

What Is Scalp Acne Gentle Hair Washing Image


Cleansing the scalp and hair regularly is essential to remove excess oil, grime, sweat and the dreaded product build up. Use a gentle shampoo with natural ingredients and don’t overdo it – wash your hair twice a week, 3 times at the outside. Anything more often risks drying out the scalp and stripping hair of essential oils.

Use The Right Products

If you’re dealing with scalp acne, you must wash your hair with great care. A good rule of thumb is to avoid any products that are heavy or oily, which are a recipe for blocked pores. Steer clear of anything with harsh chemicals and sulphates. These can strip natural oil from the scalp, which can lead to increased sebum production, triggering an acne outbreak. Opt for gentle products free of these unhelpful ingredients. Hair cycling washing products will help give your hair and scalp a break from residues and chemicals too.

Diet And Scalp Acne

Diet plays a significant role in the health of your skin, and this includes your scalp. A recent study involving over 24,000 adults has suggested that there is a link between high consumption of fatty and sugary foods and acne. Processed foods can also affect hormone levels, which can lead to breakouts. Having a rich variety of foods is vital for general health as well as your scalp and hair, so ensure you eat fish, meat, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. But go easy on red meats, sugary treats and fat!

Supplementing your diet with fantastic supplements is hugely beneficial. Our award-winning Hair Gain Capsules and Gummies combine scientifically tested ingredients with essential vitamins to support healthy hair and scalp from within.

Nourishing Your Scalp

What Is Scalp Acne Hair Mask and Scalp Foam Image


Regularly using a hair mask formulated for scalp health can be a game-changer in the fight against scalp acne. Hair Gain’s Hair Mask is formulated to nourish and hydrate the scalp, which will ease the irritation and inflammation associated with scalp acne. The mask will also help remove product build up and excess oil, common culprits in clogging pores and triggering acne outbreaks. Just 10 minutes twice a week, or as part as an occasional scalp facial, the mask is an awesome addition to your hair and scalp care routine.

And don’t miss our new Scalp Foam to maximise scalp hydration, nourishment and soothing. Used daily, its weightless formula is absorbed into the scalp, leaving no residue. It provides long-lasting moisture without clogging pores. Combined with our Hair Mask, you’ll give your scalp the support it needs, while also reducing hair breakage and fall by up to 60% from the first use*. A dynamite duo!

Scalp Acne & Stress

Managing stress is very important in combatting scalp acne. Stress releases cortisol in the body, a hormone that increases oil production in the skin. In turn, that clogs pores and follicles, leading to acne. Implementing stress management techniques such as regular exercise, meditation or yoga will decrease stress along with cortisol levels, reducing oil production. Taking just ten minutes a day to reduce stress can work wonders! Scalp massage is also a great way to lower tension and increase blood flow (along with essential nutrients and oxygen) to the scalp. Our new Scalp Massager is the perfect way to destress while working in our amazing Hair Mask or Scalp Foam.

Final Thoughts

Scalp acne requires close attention and care. A holistic approach which includes wise hygiene, gentle washing products, a balanced diet boosted with great hair and scalp supplements, amazing topicals and stress busting measures can help to manage and prevent this condition.

Of course, if the problem persists or is severe, it should be evaluated by a trichologist for tailored treatments. 


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*Independently tested (brushing test) May 2023, results achieved when tested as a regime with the Hair Gain Hair Mask