Pimples on the Scalp

Girl with scalp problems
Photo: Dean Drobot/Shutterstock
Q: I am totally perplexed and troubled by my hair lately. For the past 3-6 months I have been getting little sores, much like little pimples on my scalp. I also notice that, when I scratch my head, pieces of dry skin and these little hard yellowish-white pieces come off my scalp all the time. I thought it was dandruff and used head and shoulders for a while with no success. I've been using tea tree because a hairdresser recommended it and still have not had any relief after using it for several months.
I have also tried organic shampoo and conditioner (which I don't like because it doesn't lather and I have to use so much just to cover my hair) and still no improvement. Three weeks ago I noticed that my hair brush had all this whitish-greyish residue on the bristles and it freaked me out so I threw it away and didn't even try to clean it.
Now that I have been using the new brush for a couple of weeks, I am noticing the same exact stuff on the brand-new brush! Also, I naturally have oily hair, so it’s really strange to have all this skin coming off even though I have an oily scalp. I have not colored my hair in almost a year (and have only colored it maybe 5 or 6 times in my life) and I don't use any product other than shampoo and conditioner. I feel kind of helpless and not sure what I can do to address the problem. Any tips or insight would be greatly appreciated!

A: Ok. I am often put in the situation of trying to define the things which are appropriate for a hairdresser to address and those that must be referred to a doctor.
This is a situation that requires a doctor’s assessment. Here are the reasons why:
1. You stated that you have had “little sores” develop. Any kind of wound, sign of irritation or lesion in the skin is something that MUST be addressed by a doctor. In most cases, a hairstylist isn’t even allowed to service a client with any type of sores or lesions on their scalp for fear of infection and contagion.
2. The chronic nature of this situation, which you stated has lasted for 3-6 months, indicates that it is something that is not likely to go away until the cause is identified and dealt with.
There are many things that could cause symptoms like yours and no hairdresser is qualified to diagnose, to advise on, or to treat any condition that originates below the scalp’s surface or involves wounds of any kind.
So, your first order of business is to see a DOCTOR. He or she can help you diagnose and treat these conditions. And while it may seem like “passing the buck” on my part, my instincts tell me that the condition you are dealing with will require treatment that only a medical professional can proscribe or provide legally.
See also:
Scalp problems
Shampoos and scalp allergy
Pimples near the scalp because of shampoo and hair shine