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Dissecting Cellulitis

What is Dissecting Cellulitis?

Dissecting Cellulitis is a rare scalp disease associated with puffy lumpy nodules and boil like masses on the scalp that cause the destruction of hair follicles creating scar tissue and subsequent hair loss.

What is the cause of Dissecting Cellulitis?

The cause of Dissecting Cellulitis is unknown.

What are the symptoms?

Painful, swollen puffy areas appear on the scalp that sometimes bleed and ooze pus.

How is it diagnosed?

Due to its unique appearance, your dermatologist or physician can examine the scalp and based upon appearance usually make a diagnosis right away.

What tests are needed?

A bacterial culture and sensitivity test could be performed to identify organisms causing an infection; however the results are sometimes negative in dissecting cellulitis due to the presence of sterile abscesses.

What is the expected duration?

Patience is required as it can take many months or even years for improvement and resolution to occur. The condition can be resistant to medical treatment and continue to progress no matter what type of care is rendered.

How can it be prevented?

There is no known cause or prevention of Dissecting Cellulitis.


Currently, treatments for Dissecting Cellulitis can include topical and oral antibiotics, intralesional steroid injections, oral Isotretinoin or topical retinoids to reduce pain, inflammation and swelling.

When to contact a professional

A dermatologist should be consulted once any painful or swollen nodules appear on the scalp and become persistent or spread to other areas of the scalp.


The sooner that treatment is started, the better the possibility will be to minimize permanent damage to the scalp. Patience is required for all treatments, since getting Dissecting Cellulitis to resolve can take some time.

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