Firstly, Smelly Hair Syndrome is a condition that is totally unrelated to having dirty hair.
This is an acutely embarrassing and demoralising problem for many of its sufferers, and despite frequently washing their hair using expensive shampoos and conditioners, the sour smell never seems to go away completely.
It has been described as an unpleasant, sour smell ranging from ‘an old dog’ or a ‘wet sponge’ and Smelly Hair Syndrome can affect people of any age.
There are several theories as to what causes SHS from different scalp and hair experts as Clinical Director Glenn Lyons explains:
“There is a sebaceous gland attached to each hair follicle and that produces oil.
“The more oil your hair has, the more prone it is to picking up environomental 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.
“If you have quite coarse hair, it will soak up a lot of the oil.
“But people with finer hair may find that the oil, and therefore the odour, is more of a problem.
“Equally if you tend to use a lot of products, such as serums or mousses in your hair, these, like oil will attract odours and lock them into Â your hair.”
However, another expert in the head and scalp field (Trichology) Iain Sallis explains his theory:
“An excess of sebum is certainly one of them, but people who have a diet that is rich in pungent foods, such as spicy curry, or oily fish may also find that their scalp and hair give off a distinctive odour.
“However, there is another, rarer condition that causes that lingering sour smell that people find so hard to shake, and it’s actually a fungal infection.
“There are tow types.
“Endothrix infections which attack the inside of the hair, and Ectothrix infections that attack the outside of the hair.
“These types of fungi grow naturally on animals and it’s close contact with animals such as cats, dogs and horses that can be the initial cause of the infection.
“Fine fine spores from the fungus are transferred from the animal to the human and once infected, can be spread from person to person from shared combs, brushes that transfer the fungus.
“Once you know it’s a fungal infection causing your SHS an anti-fungal oill can be prescribed alongside an anti-fungal shampoo but don’t expect things to change overnight.”
If you are in any doubt as to what is causing your Smelly Hair Syndrome please seek advice and help from your GP.