Published on August 13, 2020. Last Updated on November 14, 2020.
A man bedeviled by the pesky bumps or masses on the back of the head along with constant itching, burning and squicky oozing pus is so rustrated with the bumps on the back of his head – he’d try just about anything to get rid of them. The medical term for this condition is acne keloidalis nuchae or AKN, according to treatment expert Dr. Sanusi Umar, also known as Dr. Bumpinator at Dr. U Hair and Skin Clinic where he has been permanently terminating these bumps for many years, with proven long-lasting results.
Dr. Bumpinator’s Review of Reddit and Quora Home Remedies
Treating the bumps at home with the expectation to permanently eradicate them is unrealistic. Dr. Bumpinator reviewed suggested online forums, Reddit and Quora, user suggestions and provided professional insight as to what may help versus outright outrageous.
After an in-depth study of Reddit and Quora to review what home and over the counter remedies people have tried on their scalps, Dr. Bumpinator was astonished at the array of efforts to combat this condition.
These bumps go by many names on the streets, such as scalp, folliculitis, barber’s itch or razor bumps on the back of head. According to Dr. Bumpinator, although many of the posters did not show photos, they are most likely talking about AKN. Sometimes people including doctors have confused this condition with another related condition called folliculitis decalvans which tends to affect the vertex portion of the head rather than the back of the neck which is where AKN commonly resides.
1. Fungicide Approach
Online forums like Reddit and Quora are filled with questions and interactions of desperate people with bumps on the back of their heads, doing drastic things.
“Don’t make your bumps worse,” Dr. Bumpinator said. “Some home remedies can irritate the bumps and make them grow bigger or increase infection.”
One Reddit user, “/u/darktrait,” described his bumps as “pus filled bumps that feel like a scene from an alien-movie, where the baby alien rips through the host’s stomach.”
Following his comments, he shared photographs of his bloody and dried pus crusted pillows. Waking up to bloody and pus crusted pillows is a commonality amongst men who may have AKN. In the same post he talked about his misadventures in bouncing around doctor to doctor and medication to medication. He even accumulated a medical bill debt. He was frustrated that nothing was giving him the relief he needed.
Desperate, he announced he was going to “experiment” with 30 Second Outdoor Cleaner that is used to clean algae, mold and mildew on a variety of surfaces like wood decks, concrete, driveways, plastic outdoor furniture and more.
“Wish me luck,” /u/darktrait shared. “I will be spraying the chemical and let it sit for one minute and then rinse it off in the shower. Let’s see if this works and kills this.”
This is dangerous. According to Dr. Bumpinator, creating treatments or self-remedies are very risky and can make you sicker beyond the scope of AKN. Dermally applying fungicides or other chemicals is like applying pesticides on the skin.
This can cause skin irritation, redness on the localized area of application, bleeding, swelling or mild skin pain. According to the Poison Control Center, In more severe cases, the chemicals develop blisters, burns – large or deep and severe skin pain. Such developments may require ER attention.
“Don’t put your health at risk by applying hazardous chemicals on your skin,” Dr, Bumpinator said.
2. The Quora Answer and the Hypodermic Needle
A Quora answer was concerning to Dr. Bumpinator. An unidentified Quora user asked for suggestions on how to manage the bumps on his scalp, that’s when a Quora user, Joe, shared what he referred to as the “components to his cure.” Joe said he has struggled with the bumps on the back of his head for the last 35 years. Although he has consulted with a dermatologist who suggested not to use antibiotics or to pick at his bumps, it didn’t deter him from picking at them. But worse of all, he even said he used hand sanitizer and a hypodermic needle to treat the bumps on the back of his head.
“If a pustule develops, I use a hypodermic needle cleaned with Purell to pierce it,” Joe detailed in his post. “I then clean the area with more Purell and apply some antibiotic, even though the last dermatologist said not to use it.”
That’s a hard no. No, no – NO. First things first, hand sanitizer is meant to be used as a hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available. It kills bacteria and most viruses. Above all, the frequent use of hand sanitizer, long term, can dry out the skin; practically stripping it of its natural oils.
Combining hand sanitizer with a needle can open the skin to more serious bacteria and vulnerable to a number of infections. According to Dr. Bumpinator, putting this on your skin can cause significant dryness and irritation, but needling the area would worsen dryness and irritation further. There is an increased chance of inoculating your skin with unwanted organisms.
Despite routinely creating his own solution, it hasn’t cured his bumps and Joe admitted there is a constant cycle of scabbing, drying, peeling.
There’s no such thing as quick DIY AKN fix
Oftentimes, Primary Care Physicians, PCP’s, prescribe topical creams, lotions or gels that include – a retinoid cream, a prescription-strength steroid or cortisone preparation, or an antibiotic such as clindamycin (1) – such treatments are not effective long term.
Furthermore, there have been instances in which oral medications may be prescribed in the form of antibiotic pills or a short course of steroids. In efforts to reduce inflammation and reduce or remove scar tissue, some AKN patients have received steroid injections directly into the inflamed bumps or scars. Those treatments are also temporary, with lesions returning bigger and sometimes more aggressive than before.
Other PCP’s have tried to treat it by performing a surgical excision of the bumps or larger scars or even used liquid nitrogen/cryotherapy to freeze the bumps. But because there hasn’t been a standard procedure to treat the bumps, it’s hit or miss.
The problem with the aforementioned treatments, while they may temporarily subside some of the symptoms, it is not a permanent fix. On the back end, patients are spending hundreds of dollars looking for a remedy, only to see the bumps return again; this time bigger, more irritating, more painful and harder to manage.
Other Reddit Tested Remedies
3. Choline supplement, Fish oil and Hibiclens wash
Nothing seems to help u/rcarter22/ who’s been experimenting with a number of supplements and an antiseptic skin cleanser.
“Have you started any new supplements recently? I started a Choline sup and being more regular with my fish oil, trying to figure out which may have been a factor. I’m going to start trying Hibiclens as a rinse to see. Also, changing pillowcase daily.
4. Dog shampoo, Oregano oil, Tea Tree oil and other oils did not work.
According to u/dmk, he tried using medicated dog shampoo, tea tree and oregano oil without much avail. He however found a solution using Neutrogena BP invisible mask, called Rapid Clear Stubborn Acne Daily Leave on Mask, unfortunately, when he stopped using it, the bumps returned.
“I bought that with a Neutrogena BP cleanser which is not too strong and doesn’t dry out my head. I have very short hair that I clip myself, likely a contributing factor to my folliculitis. So it was easy to rub this in and it absorbs completely. Within two days my head was clear. I really couldn’t believe it. I stopped using it and my folliculitis started to reemerge. Used this again-gone. Like 100% gone. Better than low dose doxycycline.”
5. Apple Cider Vinegar, Corticoid Injections and a concoction of things
Thirty-one year-old IT executive, u/Tchakpalo, from Africa opted to combine apple cider vinegar coconut oil, with corticoid injections. But unfortunately, the bumps eventually returned.
“I had to do my own diagnosis with the internet. But the folliculitis gradually evolved into a fibrosing shit leaving a lot of little keloid scar bumps. I tried home remedies for keloids, Apple cider vinegar, coconut oil, tea tree essential oil and other stuff: it flatten the bumps a lot but they remain visible through hairs. Then, Corticoids injections in the scalp cleaned everything the day after. Corticoids injections make them disappear completely, but come back after a while.”
6. They blamed the barber
Three years ago, u/uyzi alleges his barber didn’t sanitize the hair clippers. The bumps appeared after that haircut. But what if it wasn’t his barber’s fault? Read more on how barber’s are the frontline of combating bumps on the back of the head.
“I started getting bumps all over my scalp that were filled with pus. I’ve tried everything in the book. Antibiotics, accutane, and etc. as many of you have experienced these are short term relief, because as soon as you get off them meds they flare back up. What worked for me was mixing 100% tea tree oil and aloe Vera gel with T/Sal shampoo.
For u/Caseacinator/ his bumps started two years ago after his barber shaved his head bald. Since then he claims the haircut caused the bumps and since let his hair grow. He’s used Neosporin, Tend Skin, conditioner, and moisturized his scalp with shea butter.
“I admit that I’ve picked at it and I believe that it is caused by ingrown hairs. But I’m open to any suggestions as to what else this may be. What is causing this? How to get rid of it? I’m losing my hair and I wish to go bald, but only after I figure out how this is happening. I’ve let my hair grow for months before or I trimmed it just a bit a while ago, never low to irritate the bumps, but it seems that when I go low this starts up again.” – u/Caseacinator/
7. He went herbal
When he decided to experiment with ashwagandha, u/NBNC2 was balding on the back of his head and with one bald spot in the middle of the back of his head from a red bump.
“A month ago I started consuming ashwagandha. About a week later, I noticed that every bump on my scalp was gone. None. Today the back of my head is full and those rough lines have gone.”
Meh, it didn’t work.
Other Reddit users commented on u/NBNC2’s post with words of indifference.
“This is probably a coincidence. I’ve [been] taking ash for the past year or two a day it makes zero difference.” –u/MuteMouse
“Did not work for me.” –u/010Pachito
8. He Raided the Medicine Cabinet
While some opted for essential oils or prescription antibiotics, to treat the bumps on the back of head, u/BULL3T2B1NARY tried a simpler approach – over the counter, OTC, aspirin. He makes a topical paste out of two aspirin and rubs it on his head after shaving.
“Yup. Bought cheap Walgreens aspirin. Put two in my hand and let them soak for about 45 seconds and they become a paste. Then I rub it on my head. Good for exfoliating too. “It’s helped me a lot.” –u/BULL3T2B1NARY
The best way to deal with the bumps on the back of your head or to find out if you have AKN is to schedule an appointment with a healthcare provider that has a deeper understanding of the condition. It’s time to stop self-diagnosing or realizing that some of those treatments aren’t providing long lasting results. Curious to know more about AKN? Ask Dr.Bumpinator by clicking the button link below.
Is there any over the counter medication or home remedy that can help me permanently get rid of the bumps? No. Here’s the thing, a bulk of the over the counter, prescription and natural/holistic remedies only provide temporary relief of the AKN symptoms. Furthermore, some people haven’t been properly diagnosed with AKN and think they may have other scalp conditions. Hence treating them inappropriately. This in turn can cause the bumps, in time, to worsen or grow bigger in size.
Maranda, E. L., Simmons, B. J., Nguyen, A. H., Lim, V. M., & Keri, J. E. (2016). Treatment of Acne Keloidalis Nuchae: A Systematic Review of the Literature. Dermatology and therapy, 6(3), 363–378. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13555-016-0134-5