Even though it's covered in hair follicles, the scalp is actual skin. Just like your face, it can be prone to dryness, scabbing, scarring, and "acne." Dermatologist Neil Sadick, MD, of Sadick Dermatology in New York City, tells Refinery29 that scalp acne (known by doctors as folliculitis) occurs when a hair follicle gets clogged with sebum or product debris.
Ted Lain, MD, of Sanova Dermatology in Texas, explains that scalp acne is a common result of inflammation of the hair follicles. But sometimes it can be a sign of something more serious. “Acne on the scalp may also indicate a bacterial infection," he says. "If the acne seems very inflamed, itchy, and is spreading very quickly, you should seek care from a dermatologist."
If you've noticed a few pesky, red bumps after skipping a few washes, slathering your scalp with oil (which causes clogging), or rocking a slightly-snug protective style — the key to getting rid of scalp acne starts with picking the right products. Ahead, find the exact tips (and products) dermatologists give their clients when acne attacks.
Refinery29's selection is purely editorial and independently chosen – we only feature items we love! As part of our business model we do work with affiliates; if you directly purchase something from a link on this article, we may earn a small amount of commission. Transparency is important to us at Refinery29, if you have any questions please reach out to us.