Smelly Scalp Syndrome

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Many of us have a “bad hair day” every now and then.  However, individuals with Smelly Scalp Syndrome have a “bad hair day” everyday.  Smelly Scalp Syndrome is a condition that originates from the hair and scalp of men, women, and children of all hair lengths.  It consists of an odor that can be quite pungent and intensifies throughout the day.  The smell is quite easily transferred to towels and pillowcases.  In fact, the smell is often so strong that it can be easily noticed by friends, family, and colleagues.  This disorder may place a strain on both personal and professional relationships.  Unfortunately, many health care professionals are unfamiliar with this condition and are at a loss as to how to treat it. 


Bacteria are prevalent on the hair and scalp.  When these microorganisms overgrow Smelly Scalp Syndrome can develop.  The bacteria thrive on excessive oils on the scalp and produce an odor which is often described as muggy or moldy.  Environmental factors, such as a smoky or chemical-infested work environment, can contribute to an odoriferous scalp.


Smelly Scalp Syndrome is not a hygiene problem.  Individuals with smelly scalps often wash their hair at least once daily -  only to have the smell return and intensify as the day progresses. It if often thought that this condition is the result of poor nutrition or hormone imbalances.  However, it is the growth of the bacteria that are responsible for this syndrome.


A licensed dermatologist can help diagnose and treat Smelly Scalp Syndrome.  Sulfur shampoos and soap are helpful in eliminating this disorder.  It is recommended that you shampoo daily with the sulfur preparations for one week and then periodically, thereafter to insure eradication of the bacteria.  It may be necessary, however, to obtain prescription topical preparations from a dermatologist which may better suit your needs.

Helpful Tips

Bacteria live everywhere.  Consider the following tips to assist you in eliminating Smelly Scalp Syndrome:

  • Change your towel, hairbrush, pillowcase
  • Discontinue the use of all hair products – if smell disappears you may have discovered the culprit
  • Discard old hair products and replace with newer products


Smelly Scalp Syndrome is a potentially embarrassing disorder which can affect relationships both at home and at the workplace.  There are some very simple remedies available to treat Smelly Scalp Syndrome. Whether your approach be a trip to the local drug store or to the dermatologist’s office, it is important to realize that there is hope for this condition.

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