AcneNet Article
Pomade Acne

When hair styles change, it is common for teenagers and young adults to adopt the new style. Sometimes a new hair style requires use of a thick, oily dressing called pomade. Pomade is generally used when a hair style requires that (1) curly hair be straightened or (2) hair be molded into various shapes. Some pomades are available in stores and shops; some are homemade.

One of the undesired effects of pomade use may be pomade acne. Pomade acne occurs on the scalp, forehead and temples where pomade comes into contact with the skin. It usually consists of comedones, with perhaps a few papules and pustules.

Pomade acne occurs on skin that comes into contact with the pomade, such as the scalp, forehead and temples.

(Photo used with permission of the American Academy of Dermatology National Library of Dermatologic Teaching Slides)

Most, if not all, pomades fall into the category of comedogenic (pore clogging) cosmetics and hair dressings. The heavy oils in pomades can clog skin, setting the stage for formation of comedones. In addition, some of the other chemicals in pomades may irritate the skin, contributing to inflammation.

For pomade acne,
treatment consists of these options:

  • If using pomade to decrease scalp dryness, try applying pomade one inch behind the hairline.

  • Is using pomade to style or make hair more manageable, try applying pomade to the ends of the hair only to avoid contact with the scalp and hairline.

  • Stop using pomade.

When pomade is no longer making contact with the skin or pomade use is discontinued, pomade acne should gradually clear. If it persists, the acne should be treated the same as any other acne—by gently cleansing the skin and using a topical preparation, such as benzoyl peroxide. If the acne does not clear after 6 – 8 weeks of treatment, contact a dermatologist.

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