Many people struggle with scalp issues throughout their life, but for those who are dealing with excessive oil, it can cause anxiety over issues such as appearance and health. But does an oily scalp cause hair loss?
Written By Summer Wise
So, is there a link between hair loss and an oily scalp?
It is unlikely that an oily scalp will cause hair loss alone but if left unchecked for a long time, the buildup of sebum in hair follicles can lead to hair loss. Some medical conditions that cause an oily scalp can lead to hair loss instead, so it is not always a direct result of an oily scalp.
What Causes An Oily Scalp?
Oil generally refers to sebum which is the natural oil produced by our scalps. Sebum is produced to keep the scalp and hair protected with a layer of oil that seals in moisture and helps prevent dryness of the hair.
Sebum comes from the sebaceous glands in the top layer of the skin called the dermis.
The glands produce the oil but their productivity can be affected by certain occurrences such as medical conditions, lifestyle choices, and genetics.
Excessive sebum can cause an oily scalp, where the hair is often left looking limp or waxy due to the overproduction of oils.
Conditions such as dandruff, eczema, or acne can cause the skin to overproduce sebum and leave you with the issue of an overly oily scalp.
Other causes include:
Hormones help to regulate the amount of sebum produced by the scalp, so a hormonal imbalance will often lead to a change in the scalp alongside other changes in the body.
A doctor should be consulted if you suspect a hormonal imbalance.
Pregnancy, puberty, or other drastic changes to the body can cause the scalp to produce much more oil than it would previously be due to the changes occurring at a hormonal level.
Hormonal issues can cause hair loss themselves, so while an oily scalp and hair loss may not always be linked, they can come hand in hand when dealing with a medical issue.
Some hair care techniques may cause dryness in the hair and scalp which can lead to overproduction of sebum.
Drying hair products such as sulfate shampoos can cause your sebaceous glands to produce extra oil to protect your scalp.
If your hair care products create an itching or burning sensation, you may be experiencing an allergic reaction that could damage your scalp over time and lead to hair loss.
Overwashing the hair will also strip the natural sebum from the scalp, leaving the glands to create much more to compensate for the new dryness. This can then lead to more oil; more frequent washing and the cycle will continue.
Many who experience oily hair and scalp simply inherit it from their family heritage. Some people’s scalps produce more sebum than others naturally which can lead to hair looking oily.
However, if excess oil appears suddenly or in an extreme amount then it is less likely to be due to simple genetics even if you had an oily scalp type previously.
Eczema and psoriasis cause dry, flaking skin, and both can affect the scalp. The dryness caused by conditions such as these will then cause the sebaceous glands to overcompensate with sebum.
This leads to excess oil in the hair making it look waxy or greasy.
A poor diet could also make skin conditions worse, cause sebaceous glands to go into overdrive, and then create an oily scalp due to malnutrition or a lack of the correct vitamins for healthy sebum regulation.
Symptoms Of Oily Scalp
- Limp oily hair
- Oily dandruff
Can Oily Scalps Lead To Hair Loss?
Many people are born with a naturally oily scalp but when oil is produced in excess it could potentially lead to itchiness, dandruff, and yes, even hair loss.
Even those with drier skin types may find their scalp producing excessive amounts of sebum and the oil may clog hair follicles, leading to thinning and hair loss.
If an oily scalp is not taken care of, it can lead to a build-up of sebum and clogged hair follicles.
Follicles are the small holes in the skin that hair grows from all over the body and scalp, so if they become clogged it could lead to problems with the hair growth cycle and potentially cause hair loss.
Furthermore, if a scalp overproducing sebum is left neglected, it could cause serious skin issues with the scalp and affect your hair. Therefore, it is important to treat the symptoms and the cause of an oily scalp.
How To Treat An Oily Scalp
There are a few ways to treat an oily scalp caused by lifestyle choices:
Replace harsh products with gentle, scalp-friendly formulas will often make a huge difference to those with excess oil caused by over styling or incorrect product usage.
If you don’t know where to start, getting rid of silicone, sulfates and drying alcohols is the first step.
Wash Hair Less Often
Those who wash their hair daily should start washing it every two days or more so that the scalp’s sebum is not stripped every day.
This may then cause the production of oil to slow down instead of compensating for the loss of oil daily.
Try Topical Natural Treatments
Natural products such as aloe vera, apple cider vinegar and have anti-fungal properties which can help keep skin conditions at bay.
These can be used in topical applications to cleanse the scalp and prevent the growth of fungal skin conditions. Be aware of skin irritation on broken skin, however.
When To See A Doctor
If you suspect your oily scalp and hair loss is due to a hormonal imbalance or medical condition, you should seek a doctor to find out the best course of action.
Home remedies and product changes may not be enough to counteract an oily scalp when it is caused by complex internal issues that require a medical professional’s advice.
They may recommend a prescription hair treatment that can help fix your issues.
However, making healthy choices for your hair, scalp, and body can help reduce the symptoms and appearance of oily scalps and hair loss while you are seeking medical treatments.
Neglecting the issues will only cause the sebum overproduction to worsen, causing clogged follicles, thinning hair, and more.
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