Help! I Have a Pimple on My Scalp—Now What?

Flaky scalp and dandruff remedies you’re probably well-versed in but when it comes to a scalp pimple, the solution may not be as straightforward as a Google search. Interestingly enough, the kinds of oils you use could be the culprit for a scalp pimple. Here to lay down the facts about scalp pimples is board certified dermatologist and founder of Visha Skincare, Dr. Purvisha Patel. Ahead, Dr. Patel shares her tips for avoiding scalp pimples and how to treat one if and when one gives your scalp a surprise visit.


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Where Did This Pimple Come From?

Follicle infections, or scalp pimples, are caused by four things: follicular occlusion, oil production or adding edible oils, bacteria or fungal growth and inflammation. We are mammals and covered with hair follicles. Hair follicle infections can occur anywhere on the body. They tend to get worse in the scalp because we cannot see them and they are covered with hair. People who have curly, long or frizzy hair that use edible oils for hair care get these more as bacteria and fungus grow more in warm, hot environments.

What to Avoid

If massaging pops the pimple then the bacteria/fungus can spread to adjacent follicles so avoid the area of the scalp pimple. You can still use styling products at the root but do not use edible products. Coconuts, olives, argan, etc. feed the problem. Dry shampoo is fine, but wash at least every 2-3 days until the area is better. Brush around the area, not directly over it, to avoid spreading bacteria.


Drying the area with an astringent can help decrease the oil component. Antibiotic ointment helps decrease infection. Over-the-counter benzoyl peroxide cream can help as well as tea tree oil. See a dermatologist who is a MD trichologist if the scalp pimple gets worse after 48 hours, if there is a lot of pain, if there is drainage or if you have a fever.

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