Smelly Hair and Scalp: Prevention and Cure

A woman holding a hair drier, and wearing a bathroom robe

Why Does My Scalp Smell?

There are various reasons the scalp can smell; one of them is having an oily scalp. The reason oily scalps have a higher possibility of being smelly is the increased rate of bacterial activities that take place in them which give off an unpleasant smell. Other common reasons the scalp may smell are:

  • poor hair hygiene
  • hormonal changes
  • excessive sweating
  • medical conditions such as psoriasis, dandruff, allergic contact dermatitis or seborrheic dermatitis

7 Home Remedies to Eliminate Smell from Hair and Scalp

Tea Tree Oil

  • 6 drops of tea tree oil
  • 1-2 tablespoon(s) of sweet almond oil or jojoba oil
  • Mix the tea tree oil with sweet almond oil or jojoba oil.
  • Apply it to your scalp and a little to your hair.
  • Leave it on for 30 minutes to an hour before rinsing.

You may apply it once or twice a week. The antimicrobial properties in tea tree oil combat microbes, while its pleasant smell leaves your hair smelling fresh.

Apple Cider Vinegar

  • Half a cup of apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups of water
  • Mix the apple cider vinegar with the water.
  • Wash your hair with a mild cleanser and use the mixture to rinse your hair.
  • Rinse your hair with some plain water afterward.

Doing this once or twice a week is super effective. Its antibacterial effect is the reason for its potency.

Neem Oil

  • 5-6 drops of neem oil
  • 1-2 tablespoon(s) of any carrier oil
  • Mix the neem oil with the carrier oil.
  • Apply the mixture to your scalp and hair.
  • Leave it on for 30 minutes to an hour before rinsing.

You may do this once or twice a day. This treatment is effective because neem oil is antimicrobial, hence it avoids the increase of microbes which causes the scalp to smell.

Tomato Juice

A picture of tomato fruit and juiceRequirements
  • 1 medium-sized tomato
  • some water
  • Squeeze out the pulp from the tomato.
  • Apply the pulp directly to the scalp.
  • Leave it on for 20-30 minutes before rinsing with some plain water.

You may do this tomato juice treatment once or twice a week, and see the difference that the antibacterial properties make in eliminating the odor in your scalp.

Lemon Juice

  • 2 teaspoons of lemon juice
  • 1-2 cup(s) of warm water
  • Mix the lemon juice with the warm water.
  • Wash your hair with a mild cleanser.
  • Rinse your hair with the lemon and water mixture.
  • Leave it on for a few minutes.
  • After about 30 minutes, rinse your hair thoroughly with some water.

You may do this twice a week. What makes this effective is the potency of lemon in combating dandruff which makes the scalp to smell.

Garlic Oil

  • 4-5 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • Crush the garlic cloves.
  • Heat the crushed cloves with two tablespoons of coconut oil for a few minutes.
  • Strain the mixture to extract all the oil out of it.
  • Apply the mixture to your scalp and a little to your hair.
  • Rinse off with a mild cleanser and some water.

Garlic is antibacterial and antifungal as a result of its sulfur compound, hence it eliminates bad smell. You may do this treatment 1-2 time(s) a week to achieve the best results.

Baking Soda


  • Put the baking soda into the water and mix properly.
  • Wash your hair with a mild cleanser.
  • Then rinse with the baking soda solution.
  • Rinse your hair thoroughly with water.

The effectiveness of this treatment is as a result of the antibacterial effect of baking soda which enables it to get rid of odors. You may do this treatment once a week.

How to Prevent Smelly Scalp and Hair

Avoid Applying Conditioners on the Scalp

You should only apply conditioners on your hair, not your scalp. Conditioners can make the scalp oilier, hence enabling odor-causing bacteria to thrive.

Other prevention methods are:
  • Wash your hair regularly.
  • Use a mild fragrant shampoo.
  • Treat dandruff or any other hair infection early.
  • Avoid touching or scratching your hair often.
  • Wear a scarf or hat to protect your hair from environmental pollution.

4 Tips for a Healthy Scalp and Hair

Eat Healthy Diets

A picture of varieties of foodConsuming healthy diets is essential for maintaining healthy hair and scalp. Protein-rich foods especially, such as beans, leafy vegetables, eggs, nuts, chicken and fish enhance hair growth. Also, foods rich in antioxidants boost metabolism and improve blood circulation, hence ensuring a healthy scalp.

Avoid Using Chemical-Based Hair Colors

Such hair colors contain ammonia, a bleaching agent that can cause hair damage and harm the scalp. Also, hair colors cause hair dryness because they take away moisture.

Avoid Brushing Wet Hair

Brushing wet hair will cause hair fall because the hair roots are soft, hence can easily lose its grip. It is advisable to dry your hair before combing or brushing.

Take Healthy Supplements

With your dermatologist`s prescription, you may take some supplements that are rich in vitamins and minerals and healthy for your scalp.

27 Hair Facts

  • The hair is a storehouse of information which gives details on a person`s bloodstream.
  • Hair is composed of nitrogen, oxygen, sulfur, hydrogen, and carbon.
  • Iron deficiency causes hair loss.
  • It is impossible to increase the number of hair follicles one has.
  • The protein, keratin, is composed mostly of an amino acid called cysteine which gives the hair its shape.
  • The major cause of dandruff is a fungus called Malassezia globosa.
  • On average, there are 100,000 to 150,000 strands of hair on a human head.
  • Asians experience more hair growth and have more elastic hair than any other race.
  • Contrary to what many believe, trimming one`s hair does not promote hair growth.
  • Black is the most common hair color, while red is the rarest.
  • The hair is the second fastest growing tissue in the human body, after bone marrow.
  • Immediately you pluck a hair strand, another one starts growing.
  • The word “shampoo” is derived from the Hindi word “champna” which means “to knead”.
  • Women lose a lot of hair after childbirth due to some hormone regulation.
  • There is no difference between male and female hair as regards structure and growth cycle.
  • Hair does not grow after death.
  • Trichotillomania is a disorder which makes sufferers pull out their hair compulsively.
  • Europeans and Africans are more prone to balding than Asians.
  • The size of a hair follicle determines the length and thickness of hair.
  • Dark hair contains more carbon than light hair.
  • There can be hair on every part of the body except the palms, lips, soles of the feet, and lips.
  • Facial hair grows faster than any other type of body hair.
  • In the early 18th century, Russian men paid tax for wearing a beard.
  • Body hair is usually shorter because the growing phase is a lot shorter than that of hair on the scalp.
  • Studies show that people with a higher IQ have more copper and zinc in their hair.
  • Anticipating sex increases hair growth.
  • Stress worsens dandruff.

Now That You Know…

You can enjoy having odor-free scalp and hair by simply adopting any of the home remedies. If you don`t have a smelly scalp and/or hair, the preventive measures will go a long way in warding off this challenge. Your hair is one the first things people notice about you, so is the smell it emits, hence taking care of it is highly important.