Dandruff and acne are common culprits when it comes to scalp issues. While most of us usually only have to deal with a few flakes or an itch and a scratch, there is another condition that often goes unnoticed and is much worse if left untreated. Scalp folliculitis is often confused with acne, so itís best to be on the lookout for the signs that your scalp issues may be more serious that originally thought.
Scalp folliculitis is a skin condition that can mimic acne by producing white heads and blemish-like bumps on the scalp and hairline. Oftentimes a result of excess sweating or a dip in the hot tub, mild forms of this pesky skin condition can be treated with skincare products you may already own and sometimes folliculitis may heal its own. Although scalp folliculitis isnít technically acne, the symptoms and treatment (for mild cases) are similar. This disease emerges in its mildest form as small, itchy white heads and is often found along the hairline, such as by the forehead or ears. Severe cases of folliculitis are medical conditions that can lead to hardened, red bumps that must be treated medically.
So what causes scalp folliculitis? Damage to the hair follicle is thought to be the primary reason. When damaged, bacteria and fungi can invade the follicle and cause trouble. Unfortunately, damaging the hair follicle is relatively easy to do. Common factors include: restrictive clothing or hats, harsh chemicals and solvents, aggressive shaving, excessive perspiration, and even exposure to heat and humidity, such as a sauna, whirlpool or improperly chlorinated pool. An excessively oily scalp can also exacerbate the condition. Although anyone can suffer from scalp folliculitis, certain people may be more prone to this condition including: people with a compromised immune system, HIV, diabetes or long-term cancer treatment, among other conditions.
Because this condition is highly contagious, managing and treating all cases of scalp folliculitis is very important. To avoid spreading the disease (or re-infecting yourself) during any stage of an active breakout, always use clean, dry towels when bathing or swimming and never share towels, combs, brushes, or other hair accessories. Change your pillowcase nightly and brush the hair gently to avoid irritating the whiteheads. For the mildest cases, skincare treatments are available and often times, the condition will correct itself. However, if your symptoms donít improve within three or four days, or the outbreaks worsen, seek medical attention as this disease can lead to scarring or hair loss.
To get your scalp into tip-top shape, start with the basics. Keep the area clean and as free from oil as possible. If needed, consider washing your hair one extra time per week. Although benzoyl peroxide is an excellent treatment for acne, it is not excellent for hair - benzoyl peroxide may damage or cause a lightening of hair (similar to hydrogen peroxide) so avoid these products. Hair care products designed specifically for seborrhea are known to remedy scalp acne as well.
While folliculitis may be aggravating and annoying, mild cases can be treated at home quite successfully. By being conscious of your hair care routine - including which brushes you use and how tightly you hat fits - you can minimize your risk of developing this pesky problem, and your scalp can be bump free!