What is Pomade Acne?
Pomade is a greasy, waxy or water-based hair styling substance for men. In the past, pomades were derived from bear fat or lard. Nowadays, common ingredients include lanolin, beeswax, petroleum jelly, hydrocarbons, water and glycerin. Pomades are popular because they are long lasting and give hair a slicker and shinier appearance. Generally, pomades can be classified as oil-based and water-based.
Pomade acne (aka Acne Venenata) is common, especially with oil-based products containing wax, lanolin and petroleum jelly. These substances are considered comedogenic (pore-clogging) and may precipitate or perpetuate acne. Various vegetable, mineral or animal oils can be highly comedogenic. Click here to find out more about a list of comedogenic ingredients, and their comedogenicity ratings.
How Does Pomade Acne Look Like?
It may take months and up to a year before you develop pomade acne because it has a slow progression before being clinically apparent. Although pomade acne is more common in individuals of Afro-caribbean ethnicity with curly hair, it can happen to just about anyone. As you would expect, pomade acne is often found around the hairline, upper forehead, temples, ears, cheeks and scalp. In the vast majority of cases, you will see and feel skin coloured bumps on the skin due to follicular occlusion. These are mainly closed comedomes or whiteheads. Closed comedomes have a higher chance of progressing to inflammatory acne compared to open comedomes (or black heads).
How Do I Treat Pomade Acne?
- The first step is to identify the type of pomade you are using. If you are using an oil-based product, and you find yourself getting an acne outbreak, you got to stop the offending agent. Using a water-based pomade is less likely to clog your pores and result in acne vulgaris. Examples of water-based promades are shown here.
- It may seem common sense, but you need to wash your hands thoroughly after styling your hair because you wouldn’t want the remaining bits of pomade on your fingers to stick on your face. Do you realise how many times you touch your face a day? Click here to find out.
- When applying pomade, avoid getting the product in contact with the scalp directly by styling the hair one third above the skin, and avoiding the hairline.
- Wash off the pomade daily. Regardless of whether using a water-based or oil-based substance, you need to wash it off daily. Any product left on the skin for too long will lead to clogged pores and acne.
- In some cases, if the above measures do not subside the acne, you need to see a doctor to get your acne treated. Acne left for too long can lead to acne scars, even mild acne can lead to scarring. Mild acne can usually be treated with effective topical creams such as benzoyl peroxide, retinoids, antibiotics or a combination of these products. Acne marks can be improved with Azelaic acid creams. In addition, Azelaic acid has comedolytic and anti-inflammatory effects. For moderate to more severe forms of acne, you may be prescribed a course of oral antibiotics, or even oral isotretinoin.
- Plewig G, Fulton JE, Kligman AM. Pomade Acne. Arch Dermatol. 1970;101(5):580-4
- O Onwudiwe, VD Callender. Pomade Acne. Acneiform Eruptions in Dermatology, 2014