Scalp Acne - The Irritating Itch
When little red spots appeared just along her hairline, Janine Simmons, a 20-year-old flight stewardess with a US airline, thought it was just a rash and left it at that. A few days later, when her scalp began to itch pretty severely, she thought she had dandruff, but when she discovered little sores on her scalp, she could no longer ignore the matter and took her troubles to a dermatologist. It was only that she discovered that she had scalp acne, or scalp folliculitis.
Because acne normally appears on the face, chest, and back, cases like Janine's tend to be ignored until treatment becomes absolutely imperative. "The difficult thing about scalp acne," says dermatologist Dr Andrew Waite, "is that the presence of hair makes the use of certain chemicals impossible."
That's from the doctor's point of view. As far as the layman is concerned, scalp acne is probably far more common than most people realize. Scientifically speaking, scalp acne has most often been associated with high stress and anxiety, but it may also develop if the scalp becomes oilier than usual. The biggest problem, says 16-year-old Cathy Hillman, is that scalp acne is "itchy" which means you are constantly tampering with the pustules.
Once you do that, there is a risk that your scalp acne will develop into acne necrotica miliaris - which is every bit as horrible as it sounds. Typically, you will get large papules that form black crusts, with the potential to leave behind noticeable scars.
Treatment for scalp acne
As with other forms of acne, normal scalp acne responds well to salicylic acid. Especial care is required to make sure that the scalp is never too oily though the use of harsh shampoos and other hair care products may not be a good idea. Of course, for the more severe forms of scalp acne, you will need to see a dermatologist.
Unfortunately, unlike with other kinds of acne, you cannot use the miraculous benzoyl peroxide to treat scalp acne. This is because the peroxide part of benzoyl peroxide can change hair color and even affect your hairstyle. Even so, there are various ways to treat scalp acne. And one very good way, particularly for mild to moderate cases, is to wash the scalp with mild shampoo. For slightly stronger cases, you might want to try anti dandruff shampoos containing such anti-fungal chemicals as ketoconazole and ciclopirox.
Alternative treatments, depending on the severity of your condition, include topical antibiotics like clindamycin and erythromycin solutions, mild steroids in the form of lotions and creams, oral antihistamines and antibiotics (like tetracycline), and oral isotretinoin, the most famous brand name for which is Accutane.
Yet another severe form causes very large papules and cysts simultaneously. Thankfully, this is a very rare occurrence, and I will not name it because you'll never remember. If you really want to know, send me an e-mail!
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