Smelly Hair Syndrome: Are You a Victim?

FlickrWe've all had times when our hair wasn't smelling its best, but some poor women and men out there can't get rid of the stench no matter how many times they shampoo.

They suffer from something called Smelly Hair Syndrome, and say their hair smells so bad that it's commented on by people at work and has a negative impact on their social and personal lives.

Scariest of all? Anyone can get it. At any time.

According to the Daily Mail:

"There’s a sebaceous gland attached to each hair follicle and that produces oil," explains Glenn Lyons, clinical director at the Philip Kingsley Trichological Clinic. "The more oily your hair, the more prone it is to picking up environmental pollutants, such as smoke, cooking odours, and other strong scents, that will make it smell.

"The scalp is densely populated not only with these oil glands, but also with sweat glands. In the same way that, regardless of what deodorant they use, some people are more prone to sweating and body odour than others, so too you’ll find that some people’s scalps are more prone to oiliness and odour than others."

And the Daily Mail isn't the only online outlet talking about SHS. A quick search online revealed SHS message boards and websites devoted to the problem. And a post about Smelly Hair Syndrome on elicited more than 200 comments from people dealing with the problem. Sufferers complain that their hair smells like mildew, or even a dirty diaper, and exchange remedies to mask the odor.


Here's another thing I have to worry about getting now! That will be me, obsessively smelling the ends of my hair for the rest of the day.

Have you ever heard of SHS? Do you think you might have it?


Image via nathalielaure/Flickr

hair, horrors


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Melis... Melissa042807

I've never heard of it but I believe it. I've got oily hair and while it doesn't smell on its own, it sure does pick up other smells. Especially smoke. If I go to a wood-oven pizza restaurant my hair reeks by the time we leave.

nonmember avatar lld

My daughter had this problem when she was little and the dermatologist said to use dandruff shampoo... it worked.

hotic... hoticedcoffee

Smelly Hair Syndrome?  Couldn't anyone come up with a kinder name?  Sheesh - like people who suffer with it aren't already mortified.

I've never heard of it, but given the explanation, it makes sense.  Sounds like social death, for sure - right up there with chronic bad breath.

nonmember avatar A

Gross. I'm sure washing your hair everyday, skipping the blow-dryer (it makes your head sweat), rinsing your conditioner out better (it clogs pores), or even cutting your hair shorter than it is would help remedy the problem. That's just nasty.

Carenann Carenann

No, I've never heard of it but I have known people who were not "dirty" who never seemed to have a pleasant fragrance, I wonder if this was the issue?

I have dry hair, it rarely gets oily, but I am a swim instructor so I constantly smell like chlorine, even after washing my hair throughly, I guess it's good to know it could be worse. ;)

Samal... Samallama

I think my neice has that. Her hair always smells like she hasn't taken a shower in a few days. When I used to nanny for her I would constantly make her get back in the shower and re wash her hair, even scrubbing it myself sometimes but it would never smell clean. Like the kid doesn't have enough problems without "smelly hair syndrome"!!

Victoria Goins

put some ACV on that scalp--that'll kick SHSs butt.

nonmember avatar Mr. Brown

Some people just don't get it. No matter what they hear they still make stupid comments like "Wash your hair, cut your hair, rinse better" I got to admit these are different LOL Most common ones are shower, use deoderant, brush your teeth, wash your clothes. My favorite is see a doctor. Im a 46 year old male I've had this condition since I was 17 Never knew it had a name SHS till now Let me assure you it has nothing to do with being clean or dirty. People like myself are cleaner then the average person because of this condition. The next time you notice someone that does not smell as good as you don't be so judgmental or rude. You have no idea what its like to go through life with this problem with no help or hope of ever being "normal" I do, and from what Ive been reading YOU could be the next victim of SHS

nonmember avatar Dee

anti dandruff shampoo stops smells, but its harsh
i use coconut oil to condition my hair, once a week, because anti-dandruff shampoo is so strong, and sometimes i add a bit of pure jasmine oil in, the essential oil you can buy, its worth it to get the proper pure real stuff, it smells nicer, and its an pheromone to attract men, also an aphrodisiac for them, so i also put some in my hair after my shower, but only a little, and i also made a mister bottle with some water, and jasmine oil, i just have to shake it every time i use it. Its really good though, natural perfume, and i also use baking soda with some jasmine essential oil for deodorant, works the best so far.

ethan... ethans_momma06

I love the way my hair smells.

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