Dealing with smelly hair

    Smelly Hair - all right reserved to original photographer (creative commons)Most people shampoo their hair a few times a week, or even once a day. But for some people, the "lather – rinse – repeat if needed" routine is not enough, and they suffer from what is sometimes referred to as "Smelly Scalp Syndrome". Smelly scalp can occur in men or women, with long or short hair.
    This phenomenon can have a few causes. One common cause is by microbial growth. Just like other hairy parts of our body, there are follicles on our heads that secrete oily exudates ("sebum"), which lubricate our scalp and help keep the health of our scalp and hair. In some conditions, there is not enough sebum, which causes defects in the scalp and helps microorganisms thrive in tiny cracks on our scalps. In other cases, microorganisms can live on the oily secretions. These microorganisms sometimes release odorous gases, which cause the smell. Another reason for hair odor can be "transferred smell", from an environmental reason, such as the hair odor of smokers.

    How to deal with a smelly scalp?

    1. Clean your hair sensibly. Wash and condition your hair regularly, and don´t leave it dirty, shaggy or greasy.
    2. Do not excessively clean your hair. Shampooing more often than once a day may cause dry scalp. A dry scalp is unhealthy, and allows the odor-causing bacteria and fungi to thrive on our skin.
    3. Comb your hair once in a while. This will help protect the scalp and hair, by spreading your natural oil. Just remember not to do it excessively, since it can also harm your scalp and weaken your hair follicles.
    4. Consult with your dermatologist if you suffer from a smelly hair or smelly scalp. Your dermatologist can advise on the recommended cleaning procedures for your specific condition, and will prescribe you with an antimicrobial shampoo or other medications if necessary.
    5. Your dermatologist can also detect whether other conditions may contribute to your problem, such as hormonal imbalance, cosmetic damages to the scalp, nutritional deficiency and other medical conditions.
    6. Clean your towel, pillowcase and comb regularly. Change them altogether if required. Anything that gets in touch with your hair on a regular basis may be contributing to your smelly hair, usually by allowing microorganisms to populate freely (especially in damp conditions). When you use them on your heir, the microorganisms may then return to your hair and contribute to the hair odor. It is also advised not to share your hair brush, towel or pillowcase with others.
    7. Covering the smell usually doesn´t help. There are many products out there that are directed towards hiding the smells, usually by an even stronger scent. From our experience – this doesn´t work, will not solve your problem and may cause an even more offensive smell.
    8. In some cases, the hair odor is due to the environmental conditions. If you smoke, work in an environment with smoke or odorous chemicals or use odorous hair products, try changing the environment (e.g. avoid smoking, cover your hair, etc.) and check whether the change has improved your scalp odor. If it has, consider changing your habits or your environment accordingly.
    9. If you use any special hair products - such as hair gel, mousse, or brilliantine – stop using them for a few days. The clean your hair properly and consult with someone close to you whether the odor still exists. If the products you use were the cause, and the smell from your hair was gone after you discontinued using them – stop using them altogether or replace them.
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