Why Does My Scalp Smell


Smelly body odor is a reason for the most embarrassing skin problems. Imagine what could be the situation when you come to know that the odor originates from an unexpected place of your body? The problem will be a disastrous experience, yes, I’m talking about a stinky scalp. Smelly scalp as the name suggests, is characterized by a not-so-good smell emanating from your scalp that can also spread to your hair. Both men and women are equally vulnerable to this kind of situation. If you have smelly scalp problems, understanding the causes and the cure can keep away the embarrassment to an extent.

If you ever wonder “why does my scalp smell,” the following could be the reason:

Microbial growth

Microbial is one of the common causes of a smelly scalp. Like all the hairy parts of the body, there are follicles on your head too. These follicles do the job of secreting sebum and thereby lubricating your scalp for the good health of your scalp and hair. Sometimes there occurs a condition where the sebum is secreted in a low amount that in turn causes problems in the scalp.  The low amount of sebum secretion helps the microorganisms to thrive in small cracks on your scalps. In other cases, where there is sebum production in excess, these microorganisms live on oily secretions. It is these microorganisms that release odorous substances and gasses are the reason to develop smelly scalp.


Tineacapitis happens due to fungus infection and is considered as a reason to generate smelly scalp. The fungus attacks the hair follicles and shafts. The term is medically known as dermatophytosis and is caused by ringworm. The smelly scalp is one of the conditions that can occur for a Tineacapitis patient. Tineacapitis is usually treated with oral medicines that fall into the category of the antifungal medicines.

Smelly hair syndrome

Smelly hair syndrome or SHS is a condition where you develop a smelly scalp even after you wash your hair twice a day. Infected patients usually might have excessive oil and sweat gland secretion that makes the condition worse. Apart from this, they also attract odors and lock them up in their hair. Changes in hormone levels are the main culprit for developing smelly hair condition.  It would be better to consult a doctor immediately if such problems are noticed.

Lack of hygiene

Lack of hygiene can also be a reason for developing smelly hair condition. People having excess oil secretion should wash their hair daily with a mild shampoo especially after an outing.  Also, make sure not to wash off the vital oils by washing your hair multiple times. Following a proper hygienic regime can usually save you from the question “why does my scalp smell?”

Although the condition is pretty embarrassing and nasty, there are remedies for almost any condition. Certain remedies have proved to be the most effective and lifetime cure.

Here are some of the tips and cures which will prove to be really helpful:

  • Regular hair wash

Regular washing your hair can remove dirt and pollutants that stick to the scalp and thereby balancing the oil production. The pollutants clog the scalp pores and refrain it from getting oxygen supply. So washing your hair on a regular basis will balance the oil production and keep your hair healthy.

  • Use sulfur rich products

Sulfur has the natural property of neutralizing any microbial activity on your scalp. You can use shampoos containing sulfur and salicylic acid.

There are some home remedies that you can try for this condition:

  • Neem oil

Neem has rich antibacterial qualities, so applying neem oil to your scalp once in a week is a remedy to balance the odor of your scalp. You can use neem oil directly on your scalp, or you can mix it with other oils like coconut oil or tea tree oil. Using shampoos containing neem can also tackle the problem, but using it in its pure form can give better results.

  • Milk of magnesia

It is a white suspension of magnesium carbonate in water, and it is being used as a laxative. Using it on the hair will help to cut down excess oil or sebum present on your scalp. You can apply the solution directly on your scalp. Leave it for half an hour to one hour and wash it off with a mild shampoo.

  • Orange juice and apple cider vinegar

Orange juice can check the excess oil secretion on your scalp and apple cider vinegar makes the PH of your hair normal. To make the remedy mixture, you can infuse orange peels in apple cider vinegar for around 2 weeks. After that, you can strain all the excess stuff and store the solution. Before using, mix it with water and spray it on your washed hair. You can also rinse your hair with orange juice or apple cider vinegar separately to treat smelly scalp.


All the home remedies and treatments usually work, but along with that you also have to follow basic hair care without fail to protect your hair from bad odor.  If the odor persists and before that could affect your morale, it is advised to consult a dermatologist and address issues.  On a general note, being hygiene plays an important role and hence giving top priority to maintain your hair and body is a paramount factor.


  1. I have multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia & going through menopause is this the reason I could have a severe stinky scalp the next day after washing my hair?

    • It is possible that this odor is a symptom of a medical condition. It would be most beneficial if you spoke with a medical professional at this time. Make an appointment. Continue to monitor your experiences for additional symptoms. This will help you address any questions that your medical provider may have. Best of luck, Lori!


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