Dissecting Cellulitis of the Scalp


What is dissecting cellulitis of the scalp?

Dissecting cellulitis of the scalp is a condition where pus-filled lumps develop on the scalp, resulting in scarring and permanent hair loss. This condition is commonly seen in people of African descent.

What causes dissecting cellulitis?

The exact cause of this emotionally disturbing condition is unknown, but is thought to be related to the curved shape of hair follicles in affected people, and also due to blocked and ruptured follicles, with resulting inflammation and bacterial infection.

What other problems can occur with the condition?

People with dissecting cellulitis of the scalp may suffer from other conditions related to the rupture and inflammation of hair follicles. These conditions include acne conglobata (severe acne), hidradenitis suppurativa (boils and cysts in the groin and/or armpits) and pilonidal sinus (cyst at the base of the back).

How is dissecting cellulitis diagnosed?

This condition can usually be diagnosed by careful examination of the scalp. Other disease can resemble dissecting cellulitis, so it is important that your scalp be examined by a dermatologist with expertise in hair and scalp disorders.

How is it dissecting cellulitis treated?

The treatment regimen includes:

Preventative Measures:


  • Avoid picking and squeezing the bumps
  • Seek treatment as soon as the condition appears, to prevent permanent hair loss


Topical treatments:

  • Medicated shampoos
  • Antibiotic solutions

Oral medications:

  • Oral antibiotics both fight bacteria and reduce inflammation
  • Oral steroid tablets (prednisone) reduce inflammation of the scalp
  • Oral retinoids, like isotretinoin can be used both for severe acne and for dissecting cellulitis


  • Steroids can be injected into the lumps to decrease inflammation and swelling, and halt the condition

Combination Therapy:

A combination of the above treatments may be needed to halt the disorder and to prevent permanent hair loss.

Is there a cure for dissecting cellulitis?

Dissecting cellulitis of the scalp is a chronic condition, which can flare up frequently, especially if you are not on correct treatments. While there is no cure, timely treatment can help to minimize scarring of the scalp and prevent permanent hair loss. The lead physician at Eternal Dermatology, Dr. Ife Rodney is an expert in Hair and Scalp Disorders. For a consultation, call us, or book online.





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Eternal Dermatology
11711 E Market Place, Suite 100
Fulton, MD 20759
Phone: 301-679-5772
Fax: 240-654-0408
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