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Red bumps found on the scalp are a common sign associated with folliculitis and seborrheic dermatitis, skin disorders that produce itchy, flaky skin and tenderness of the scalp. While folliculitis is caused by bacteria entering hair follicles, seborrheic dermatitis can occur due to stress, fatigue, weather changes, fungal infections or autoimmune diseases, according to the Mayo Clinic. Although there isn't a cure for these skin conditions, you can treat them by using making minor hair care adjustments and by using over-the-counter medications. You also can visit your dermatologist, who can prescribe potent medication.
Use an anti-fungal shampoo. If your red bumps are caused by seborrheic dermatitis, an anti-fungal shampoo can be used to reduce irritation and clear up the bumps, according to "Diagnosis and Treatment of Common Skin Disorders." These specially formulated shampoos often contain selenium sulfide or salicylic acid, which treats the infection. Anti-fungal shampoos can be purchased without a prescription at most drugstores.
Keep the area clean. Avoid using hair styling products that contain alcohol, as they are harsh on the scalp and can worsen the symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis and folliculitis. Wash the area with a mild soap and pat dry, followed by applying an oatmeal lotion or hydrocortisone cream to soothe the skin, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Use a warm compress on the area. According to the Mayo Clinic, a warm compress can help alleviate the irritation by causing the bumps to drain. A warm, wet washcloth can be used to drain the area, but a new cloth should be used after each use to prevent infection from spreading.
Take antibiotics. Your dermatologist may prescribe antibiotics if the folliculitis condition is severe. Oral antifungal medications or topical creams can be given to clear up the condition, and usually requires consistent use for at least five to seven days. Follow your doctor's directions closely, as side effects such as skin irritation, burning sensations, rash or dry skin can occur.
Do not squeeze or attempt to pop the bumps, as you can worsen the infection and irritate the skin.