Dear Megan,

My scalp is oily and I have a bunch of small pimples on my forehead. What should I do?

– Anonymous (requested via Quora)

The same thing happens to me from time to time, when my hormones get out of whack. For example, when I stopped taking my birth control earlier this year.. super oily scalp and forehead pimples. UGH! It’s the worst.

I am definitely not a dermatologist or a doctor, so I can only speak from my own experience; take it with a grain of salt.

Here’s the solutions that I’ve been able to come up with, from my own experience. I hope they work for you, too!

To Treat Your Oily Scalp:

What I did earlier this year was started no-pooing. That sounds crazy, but its not. It means I stopped using traditional shampoos – which tend to dry out your scalp even more, causing excess oil production and exacerbating the problem – and switched to no-pooing or co-washing.

I definitely didn’t do it right in the beginning, because I just used a regular dandruff-fighting conditioner instead of a specific co-washing cleansing conditioner. In any case, there’s a ton of info on no-pooing out there. Here’s my blog about my experience.

I now use a sulfate-free cleansing conditioner for my hair instead. It’s been fantastic.

To Treat Your Forehead Pimples:

The best thing to do is figure out what’s triggering the pimples.

Did you know that dandruff is also a leading cause of forehead acne? 

Believe it or not, a oil scalp is usually one that also has a lot of dandruff.

If pimples are allready there and inflamed—nobody else out there will recommend this, but I will, because it’s what I’ve done for years and it’s worked: use a comedone extractor – SPARINGLY – to get rid of these nasty forehead pimples.

My body isn’t strong enough to fight off a pimple infection, and the pimples will sit on my face for weeks. For some people, they can leave them alone and they’ll go away within a day or two, because their body can fight the infection on the skin. Mine just can’t, so I extract them carefully. This is WAY better than using your fingers, because it’s more direct and much more sanitary; the risk of re-infection is much lower.

You’ll need to find a long term solution for preventing acne in the first place, like changing your products, diet, or medications. I find that the best thing to do with a cluster of blackheads or whiteheads is to extract and attack with a benzoyl peroxide gel and/or adapalene. BP is easy to get anywhere, and 5–10% will do. Adapalene is available by prescription only in the US, but you can get it online from a country like Indonesia or Thailand, where it’s also made by a regulated pharmaceutical company, but is available OTC.

To Prevent Future Forehead Pimples:

To prevent future pimples, try to incorporate a physical exfoliator into your skincare routine, like the ViaBuff (available here). Sweat and makeup get easily trapped in your pores up on your forehead–it’s just part of the summer/fall, you can’t avoid it. So to prevent breakouts, you need to exfoliate away the dirt, sweat, makeup and dead skin cells, before they get trapped in your pores and become blackheads or pimples.

*This blog is part of the Beauty Q&A series, where our founder Megan answers your toughest beauty questions every Tuesday and Thursday on the blog.  If you’d like your beauty question answered on the blog, email your questions to [email protected]*

Dr. Vanessa Rodriguez is a board-certified general practitioner with more than 15 years of patient care experience. She takes an integrative approach to patient care that considers the whole person – mind, body, and spirit – and is deeply committed to assisting her patients in achieving and sustaining optimal health. Dr. Vanessa is also a skilled writer and medical reviewer, specializing in preventive care and health promotion. Her articles are written in an approachable manner that is simple to comprehend and implement in one’s own life. Dr. Vanessa’s mission is to equip her patients and readers with the knowledge and resources necessary to live their greatest lives.

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