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Pomade acne
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed

Pomade acne

Contributors: Vihang Nakhate, Susan Burgin MD
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed


Pomade acne is a subtype of acne vulgaris induced when pomades and other oil-based grooming substances that have been applied to the scalp migrate onto facial skin. Pomades are used to style or improve manageability of hair, as well as to treat the itching and scaling of seborrheic dermatitis.

The pathogenesis of pomade acne involves obstruction of the pilosebaceous unit by the oils in pomades, while other ingredients can irritate skin and contribute to inflammation. Pomade acne typically presents as closed comedones on the forehead and temple, though the cheeks and chin may also be involved if the offending agent was applied to the entire face.

Individuals of African descent more commonly use pomades and are therefore more likely to present with pomade acne. The use of durags (wave caps) or any other tightly fitting head garment in conjunction with pomades or other styling products can also facilitate pomade acne.

Postinflammatory hyperpigmentation may occur after resolution of pomade acne.


L70.8 – Other acne

22920003 – Acne of external chemical origin

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Differential Diagnosis & Pitfalls

True Acne vulgaris may be potentiated by the use of pomades, so management may need to extend beyond discontinuing or modifying pomade use.

The differential diagnosis for acne vulgaris can be considered for pomade acne as well:
  • In women, if there is a perioral predilection, this may represent Perioral dermatitis, not acne.
  • Cosmetic-induced acne
  • Lupus miliaris disseminatus faciei
  • Milia
  • Folliculitis
  • Pityrosporum folliculitis
  • Flat wart
  • Molluscum contagiosum
  • Rosacea
  • Acne conglobata
  • Sebaceous hyperplasia
  • Syringoma

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Last Updated:10/18/2016
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Patient Information for Pomade acne
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Contributors: Wesley Washington, Valerie Callender MD
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Pomade acne
A medical illustration showing key findings of Pomade acne : Forehead, Temple, Hair product use
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