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Acne at the Hairline

by
author image Brenda Barron
Brenda Barron is a writer, editor and researcher based in Southern California. She has worked as a writer since 2004, with work appearing in online and print publications such as BabyZone, "Cat Fancy" and "ePregnancy." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from California State University, Long Beach.
Acne at the Hairline
Acne at the hairline requires a special approach to treatment. Photo Credit Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Faraz Usmani

Even when you manage to rid your face of acne, bumps and breakouts along the hairline can still persist. Not only is this frustrating, but it can make you hesitant to try out new hairstyles and looks in fear of aggravating or even revealing your blemishes. However, you can rid yourself of those pesky hairline blemishes just by changing a few of your habits.

Acne

Acne can occur to anyone at any age, though it's much more common in teenagers. Regardless of when you develop acne at your hairline, it can appear in a variety of forms including blackheads, whiteheads, pustules, papules and even cysts. Blackheads look like small brown or black dots on your skin, though it's really just accumulated pigment, oil and dead skin cells. Whiteheads are blemishes filled with pus and pop quite easily. Pustules are similar to whiteheads but they're inflamed. Papules have no head and are red and inflamed blemishes. Finally, cysts are very large and penetrate deeply into your skin, often leaving scars.

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Causes

For many, acne is caused by surging hormones, an overabundance of oil or an inability to slough off dead skin cells properly. However, acne at the hairline is more often than not caused by having oily hair from improper or too infrequent washing. Using hair products like hair spray, gel, mousse or even some conditioners can lead to clogged pores and breakouts at the hairline.

Treatments

Treating acne at the hairline is very similar to treating acne on any other part of your face. It will consist of using medicated cleansers, toners and creams to dry up the blemishes and kill bacteria. Common creams available over the counter include salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. However, benzoyl peroxide can bleach hair, so it's important to take extra precaution when applying it at your hairline. If your acne is severe, you may need prescription treatments like antibiotics or topical vitamin A like retinol.

Prevention

Preventing acne at the hairline can be difficult, especially if you have oily hair. However, you can use shampoos intended to calm oil production and gentle conditioners. You may even wish to avoid applying conditioner to your scalp and instead focus on the ends of your hair to prevent breakouts. Be careful when applying hair products to avoid your forehead area. You can also avoid touching your hairline, which might just worsen or prolong breakouts.

Considerations

Acne at the hairline can sometimes be an indicator of other conditions. Small pimples at the hairline might be a form of scalp eczema or might indicate that you have a dry scalp and require further conditioning. If your hairline acne persists after modest efforts to get rid of it, see a dermatologist to receive an accurate diagnosis.

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