Ways & How

How to Get Rid of Acne Keloidalis

How to Get Rid of Acne Keloidalis

Acne Keloidalis (AK) is very different from the regular acne that sprouts when pores become clogged by oil and dirt. Although they look similar, AK is the result of folliculitis rather than bacteria. What happens with AK is that ingrown hairs are unable to penetrate the skin, so instead of growing outward, the hair shaft curls up within itself. This irritates the hair follicle, leading to the visible acne-like lesion. AK is very common in males, especially those whose hair is coarse and curly. AK can happen in any area of the body where ingrown hair growth occurs, but the most common area is at the nape of the neck (acne Keloidalis nuchae) simply because this area is frequently shaved close to the skin during haircuts. AK usually occurs in clusters, and it can look rather unsightly. If infection sets in, it can get inflamed and the bumps will merge together. When these areas heal, patches of keloid scars are left where no hair follicles will grow again. It’s important to address AK as soon as it appears; if left untreated, it will get progressively worse and lead to permanent bald spots.

Here’s how to get rid of acne keloidalis:

  1. The first line of defense, once you have AK, is to prevent further irritation. Switch to a gentle, non-abrasive cleanser that does not have any alcohol content. It also helps to use a sulfate-free shampoo since the lather could also contribute to dryness and irritation. Do not bathe or wash your hair too often. When cleaning body parts with AK, use light, non-scrubbing motions. Dryness, friction, and harsh products will only aggravate the inflammation. Dry your skin and scalp by lightly patting with a towel, not by rubbing.

  2. Prevent the development of more ingrown hairs by refraining from cutting your hair too short and not shaving close to the affected area. Stop using hair products like heavy gels, waxes, etc. These will only exacerbate your AK.

  3. Do not scratch, pick, or squeeze the acne bumps. If the itchiness becomes bothersome, an over-the-counter steroid cream can soothe your skin. Keep your nails short and clean. At night, wear soft mitts over your hands so that you can’t scratch during sleep.

  4. Keep the irritated area free from friction. Headgear and high shirt collars that rub against the affected areas should not be worn until the lesions have completely healed and dried.

  5. If your skin condition does not improve within a week, or if it gets worse, then seek help from a dermatologist. It is important to get it under control before large scar formation and permanent hair loss occurs. Your doctor will likely prescribe topical and/or oral medication to get the infection under control. Treatment is usually a cortisone-based formulation for mild to moderate cases. More advanced AK is generally treated with a short course of antibiotics.

  6. For some patients, a more aggressive response is required. This can include procedures such as direct steroidal injections, acne surgery, laser therapy, or cryotherapy. In some cases, permanent hair removal methods may be the only solution to prevent AK recurrence. Surgical skin grafts may be recommended to replace the keloid tissue with healthy skin.

AK is not a contagious condition. The best way to figure out how to get rid of acne keloidalis is to determine its specific cause and address it directly to prevent it from reoccurring. Some populations, like African American males, may be more prone to AK. It has been suggested that this is due to some genetic link, although no conclusive evidence has been presented.


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