Why Do Head Pimples Appear?

We can get head pimples because of different causes. Usually, they're a simple manifestation of acne. However, sometimes they're a symptom of another more complicated health condition and require specialized treatment.
Why Do Head Pimples Appear?

Last update: 06 November, 2020

Head pimples are usually a manifestation of acne. Although it’s more common for them to appear on other areas of the body, such as the face or back, it’s not a cause for alarm if they appear on other areas of the skin. The scalp is no exception.

Although acne on the face is more aesthetically displeasing, from a medical perspective, head pimples can be more problematic. This is because they usually come out as a pustule that’s very annoying and sometimes leads to hair loss.

Sometimes, head pimples cause pain, itching or stinging. In those cases, it’s best to go to a dermatologist to evaluate the problem in more detail. However, home remedies can often help in treating or managing this type of acne.

Causes of head pimples

Causes of head pimples

Head pimples tend to have the same causes as any other type of acne. In most cases, there are four main factors which are usually the cause for these annoying pimples:

  • Hormonal changes. These can be caused by the transformations that happen during puberty, by pregnancy, menstruation, or some medical condition that makes them appear.
  • Genetics. It’s very common for these types of pimples to appear when other people in the family have them too.
  • Problems adapting to the weather. It’s also very common for changes in climate, especially when they’re extreme changes, to lead to the appearance of head pimples.
  • Allergic reactions. These are caused by the consumption of certain medications or foods, or in response to some types of chemicals.

Another common cause is poor hygiene, such as under-washing or over-washing of hair. It may also be due to the use of inappropriate headgear. Also, weakness or immune diseases are sometimes manifested through these pimples.

Types of head pimples

Pimple acne

Not all head pimples are the same and therefore shouldn’t be treated the same way. These are the main types:

  • Red pimples. This is one of the types of head pimples that requires medical consultation. Usually, they appear as an allergic response to the use of certain shampoos or chemicals on the scalp.
  • Pimples with pus. These are a sign of infection due to the presence of parasites, fungi, or viruses on the scalp. Normally, they’re itchy and originate because excess sebum blocks the hair follicles.
  • Sebaceous pimples. These are pimples that don’t have any fat. They look like a yellowish lump and sometimes causes pain. If not treated properly, they can lead to infection. Poor hygiene is usually the culprit for this one.
  • Dry pimples. When touching them, they’re similar to a scab. They’re produced by seborrheic dermatitis and are treated with extra hydration.
  • Water pimple. They’re the result of diseases such as dermatitis or chickenpox. They can also be the manifestation of an allergic reaction.

Other interesting information

Many times, head pimples appear because there’s a dandruff problem that causes itching. Constant scratching causes the pimples to form. At other times, ringworm is present. Ringworm is a very aggressive infectious fungus that causes spots and eventually leads to hair loss.

Sometimes head pimples have a yellowish discharge and an unpleasant smell. These usually appear in people who are allergic to gluten. Other times, the pimples bleed as a result of scratching too vigorously, but this isn’t usually a cause for alarm.

Although head pimples are not a serious problem in principle, they can develop into a problem. It’s best to try to fix this issue as soon as possible. If the appearance or discomfort it causes is noticeable, don’t hesitate to visit your doctor.

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  • Graham, G. F., & Tuchayi, S. M. (2016). Acne. In Dermatological Cryosurgery and Cryotherapy. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4471-6765-5_62
  • Pérez, J. M. P., & De Hoyos López, M. C. (2012). Acné. Pediatria Integral.