Acne Keloidalis Nuchae is a very complicated name for what is a relatively straightforward condition. It can be irritating and disfiguring but if treated quickly and properly can be handled successfully, with symptoms controlled and loss of hair or skin pigmentation minimized.
The name Keloidalis Nuchae is applied to a condition where curly hair turns in and grows back into the scalp. This backward growth results in the formation of hard, scar-like growths or bumps, usually on the back of the neck, which can be itchy. It is most prevalent among young, African American males though there have also been cases reported in Hispanic and Asian individuals.
What causes acne keloidalis nuchae?
The condition typically occurs in people with very curly hair. The hair grows back into the scalp or neck causing inflammation and tenderness which can lead to an infection. Over a long period of time the areas form keloidal scars that look like hard bumps.
The condition is more common in people that have a tendency toward acne. The use of hair pomade containing lanolin can also contribute to this problem. Check the label on any pomade you are using and make sure it does not contain lanolin.
Close shaving, particularly at the base of the neck, can encourage hair to become ingrown. Wearing tight-fitting clothing, including helmets and caps used for athletics, can also cause problems with hair growth patterns. This was proven by a study among football players that showed a greater than normal rate of the condition among the African American players.
Individuals who experience a greater than normal number of bacterial infections are also more susceptible to developing this condition.
Can folliculitis nuchae be treated effectively?
There is no cure for this skin condition, but it can be treated and managed and typically improves over time.
Antibiotic lotion or pills can help keep the condition under control. Washing the back of the neck and scalp with Lever 2000 soap using a Buf-Puf helps raise the hairs from under the skin and prevents them from growing back into the skin. This should be done twice daily if possible. Buf-Pufs are available without a prescription at your local drug store.
Cortisone injections can help minimize keloidal scarring. Some areas may require surgical drainage; more severe cases may require plastic surgery.
The most effective method of treatment is education. Individuals who are prone to this condition need to understand the importance of avoiding tight fitting collars and head gear, not shaving too closely and not cutting the hair too short. Anything that shears the hair close to the scalp will make it more likely to grow back into the skin and cause infection.
Proper maintenance of the hair and scalp can help to prevent acne keloidalis nuchae. Should the condition develop, initiating treatment as quickly as possible is extremely important. The sooner you treat the symptoms, the less likely there is to be long term scarring or pigmentation change. Also, if you do opt for surgical intervention, the smaller the growths are, the easier they will be to remove.