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The cause of smelly hair syndrome

Betty’s got a problem…Hello! I am so GLAD I found you! I have had this problem now for about 3 months. I wash and condition my hair on a daily basis and by the middle of the day my hair has a sweaty, muggy smell. I just can`t describe it, it just smells! Even worse when I`m running late in the morning and I am not able to wash my hair I could smell that sweaty, muggy smell throughout the day. I there anything I can do to stop this?

The Beauty Brains respond:

Betty, I had never heard of this problem before so I was surprised when I found out that you’re not the only one who suffers from hair malodor. A quick search turned up several discussion boards on smelly hair. There’s even a website that specializes in Smelly Hair.

What Causes Smelly Hair?

They claim the problem is a fungus that grows on oily scalps. That sounds plausible since the odor you describe as sweaty and muggy could be caused by microbial growth. I know that sometimes the towel I used to dry my hair develops a funky smell kind of like the one you describe. That happens when it doesn’t dry out completely, so I assume there`s some mildew or similar organism that responsible. If I don`t notice it right way, that mildew odor transfers from the towel to my hair. Could this be the cause of your problem too?

What can you do about it?

Smellyscalp.com says use an antimicrobial shampoo. That certainly could help. You can also try changing your towel and your pillow case. If that doesn’t work, you might try shaving your head, like Britney. (Just kidding!) You could also try using a product like the Stila hair refresher, but that will just cover up the odor. It won`t address the source of the problem.

To save you time, we’ve complied the best information on the causes and cures for smelly hair and scalp that we could find. It’s all here in our 15 page PDF which you can get for free just by using the form below.

[ois skin=”Smelly hair test” split=”Smelly hair test 2″]

Here’s what you’ll learn in the free ebook:

  • Detailed descriptions of the symptoms of Smelly Hair Syndrome
  • Explanations for 13 different possible causes
  • Over 18 different treatments that have been tried by our readers
  • Plus: 10 bonus tips on how to cover scalp odor

Below you’ll see a few comments from our other readers over the last few years…. (sorry but the formatting was destroyed when our website crashed.)

Office Hair
March 15, 2007 at 10:20 pm

It’s awful, but it’s funny. Being a hairdresser I know how prevalent a smelly scalp is, but what I don’t understand is why don’t these people ask their hairdressers? It’s my responsibility to look after not only their hair, but their health if possible. Recommendations? I love Paul Mitchell’s Tea Tree Shampoo & Conditioner, feels good, smells good.

April 19, 2007 at 3:36 pm

My 13 year old daughter has very oily hair. Poor thing can get out of the shower and her hair already has that yucky smell. I thought it was just hormnoes but now i’m worried.
Any thoughts.

June 29, 2007 at 6:27 pm

At the end of the day, my scalp has a sour odor to it. So washing it is the only way to get rid of it.

Last week, I picked up a sample of DaddyO shampoo (for silver hair) at a Lush store in Seattle. Tried it. I never got the sour smelling scalp, even when I skipped shampooing the next day. I went back to my regular shampoo just to check if I was imagining it. Nope. The DaddyO acted like a deodorant.

Amazing. I’m going to do some research on this.

August 31, 2007 at 10:43 pm

I was researching this issue and found the following web site: SmellyScalp.com -who would have guessed? Check it out. They talk about using a sulfer soap. And claim it does the trick.

Hope it helps!


South Carolina
October 20, 2007 at 8:34 pm

My daughter has the same problem as Sillysil’s. Her hair smells dirty straight out of the shower. So I got online and did some research and found out it is caused by a fungus. The treatment is to shampoo with a sulfur based shampoo. I read every label of every shampoo bottle at every store, and none of them list sulfur as an ingredient. The only shampoo I have found with sulfur is dog shampoo, and am a little reluctant to try it. I thought I’d take he to the doctor and see what he can prescribe. But if anyone out there is braver than I, good luck!!!

November 19, 2007 at 4:38 pm

I tried the sulfur soap, and it works, but not consistently. It also made my head sweat PROFUSELY for no reason, so I stopped using it, and the sweating completely stopped, but I’m still stuck with smelly hair.

February 14, 2008 at 2:47 am

i am a hairdresser and always shampoo my hair regularly,and i had this issue for months. almost drove me crazy.i decided to use dial antibacterial body wash for a week –gone ! give it a whirl

February 21, 2008 at 7:28 am

hi guys.

i followed the advice of a few different posters on the net.
i had a smelly scalp, and it was quite bad. i could shower before sleep, and wake up with a smelly scalp and oily scalp.
head and shoulders didn’t help.

i got the paul mitchell tea tree shampoo, and saw results the next day.

success for me!


February 26, 2008 at 12:20 pm

I have the “sour scalp” syndrome, but it only happens every once and a while. I notice that anything with Tea Tree, Lavender, Rosemary, Mint, etc. helps a LOT. Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Treat is fantastic and a bit less drying than Paul Mitchell’s because Giovanni’s version DOES NOT HAVE SODIUM LAURLY SULFATE!!!! A virtual rarity among shampoos. They also make a conditioner. You can find it at Whole Foods and any good health food store. T-Sal by Neutrogena also works (Salicylic acid works well on any scalp problem) and if you just want to keep it simple, believe it or not, the new line that Head & Shoulders just introduced is pretty good. Try the Citrus formula.

March 3, 2008 at 10:58 am

I’ve had scalp odor for years. I remember having extremely oily scalp and dandruff in the 5th grade. I’m now 36. I Read online that a guy had this odor and the only time it dissappeared was when he lived in a house with well water that had high sulfur content. Bar sulfur soap, not the liquid kind, is what works for me. I also avoid regular shampoos b/c of Sodium Lauryl sulfates.

April 4, 2008 at 7:25 pm

I have notice a smell in my hair for about 6 months tried head and shoulders worked slightly saw my doctor he recommended hibicleanse you can find it at your local drug store for about ten dollars be cautious when using if it gets in you eyes it can really harm you but did work for me smell went away with one use

Chrissy Clark
May 28, 2008 at 9:19 pm

OMG…. I never knew that other people had suffered like I did, I am sooo goin to try all the techniques I have read here, I am 26 and I have had “SMELLEY HAIR” since about 24, and it was so embarissing! Well Good Luck to all, and I will let u know how my experiences work!! tata

May 30, 2008 at 8:34 pm

this isnt a fungus in the scalp or hair related. its all to do with weak immune systems. how many of you with oily smelly scalp have been on any anti biotics? washing your hair with all these different shampoos and soaps will cover the smell, but not cure the underlying problem. it is a difficult treatment to undertake to cure, candida will require a drastic diet change, lots of healthy bacteria for stomach and products like threelac or candigone. i had the problem from 8 years old to 26. its not nice.

June 10, 2008 at 8:16 pm

lol, Candida…I’m in a medical mycology and parasitology class at the UW (Washington), and one of the lecturers, before his section was over, ranted about the “candida” craze. A few people hyped it up to be a big problem and people started selling all sorts of stuff to get rid of candida. I guess they forgot to mention that Candida is ubiquitous and impossible to get rid of. There’s also poor association between Candida and the alleged ailments in immunocompetent people. I wouldn’t trust Jam’s speculation; it can’t be that everyone with a smelly scalp is immunocompromised. I have a smelly scalp and I have never been on anti-biotics because frankly I don’t get all that sick.

June 16, 2008 at 8:51 pm

Hi-I used to have an oily, smelly scalp for years and would wash my hair every day or every other day and the odor was so unbearable. I know my co-workers could smell it and I was so embarassed. There was actually a thick oily flour like substance on my scalp. Gross!!! I tried everything-tea tree oil on my scalp, baking soda, apple cidar vinegar, lemon, coconut oil, nutrogenas t-sal, shampoos without additives, sodium laurel sulfate, aloe, you name it, I did it. I had a feeling it might be candida and years ago I tried taking acidophilus, probiotics and still no change. What did help was not eating fried foods but it would only buy me couple more days without smell and then if I perspired, it would smell again. I hope that I will be able to help others because I was at such a loss. I accidently found the cure. That’s right, I said cure because I no longer have this oily scalp odor!!! And it I was cured right before the 3 days intense heatwave we had. I did not have a/c so it was nasty hot. But here it is. It is called Candidase and made by Enzymedica. You can get this in a healt food store. I took it because I have other symptoms but what I noticed after taking it for 3-5 days was that my scalp odor/itch problem just went away. I can’t even tell you if it was 3 days or 5 days because I had other issues that I was trying to take care of and then I just noticed that my scalp feels clean and it was 1 days of not washing. Then I waited one more day and nothing, no odor, no oil and then I realized that I had been taking this Candidaise. I’ve also been taking aloe for my digestion. I think that has been helping with my sinuses. I used to have constant dripping and congestion for years (10+). Always sound like I’m stuffed up and then after some time of taking the aloe it disappeared to. I think my immune system is finally getting stronger which is why some things I’ve tried before didn’t work but ow they are. I hope this helps some of you out there. I can’t make any guarantees, only want to share what has helped me with others. Please post and let me and others know if this helps anyone. Now I can go out and buy those great smelling shampoos and have some bit of confidence now. I finally feel clean now.

July 13, 2008 at 6:58 pm

clean i was wonder did Candidase cure ur hair odor, and will you think it will cure fecal scalpe odor? and aloe juice cure really cure ur nose problem?!! hit me up asap


July 20, 2008 at 11:04 am


Clean & everyone thank you so much for posting your comments. I’m so happy to know I’m not alone. I have had the same exact experience as clean and its been so horrible for me. I go to work everyday because I have no choice, my co-workers are very cruel to me because of the bad odor they smell coming from my head. But they don’t know how hard I try to take care of this problem. Anyways, I’m going to try Candidaise. I hope it works its my only hope. I will keep you updated. Its nice to know I’m not alone, you begin to feel like your the only one. Thanks so much!

July 22, 2008 at 8:02 pm


Like most of you, I feel grateful to have this blog. I have been having a problem with the smelly hair thing myself and it has been driving me crazy,I am a clean freak. I just went out and bought the Tea Tree shampoo and the Dial soap, they both contain sulfate. I will give it a week and get back with you. The funny thing is I have had issues with Candida since I was 12, So CLEAN might be on to something. It wouldnt surprise me at all. I will let you guys know what happens with the soaps.

And yes it’s nice to know that there are others with this issue.

August 12, 2008 at 12:08 am

I would check out sites that explain a mite called demodex mites. Also a there is a site called borax cures. I’ve used sebulex,DHS shampoo and Soda water helps. I’ve had this for years and it took alot of research to find this info. Hope it helps.

August 26, 2008 at 3:13 am

I agree, this is NOT just an external bacteria/fungal problem for most of us. I am at the end of my ropes, trying everything in site from antibacterial pills to apple vinegar on the hair. I’ve tried everything! T_T i don’t know what to do…I haven’t tried the candida yet…maybe i’ll give that a try before i just give up.

Thank you, everyone, who have contributed to this forum.

August 28, 2008 at 8:52 pm


August 28, 2008 at 8:54 pm


September 6, 2008 at 8:52 am

Try taking a chlorophyll supplement. It’s an ‘internal deodorant’ that helps many types of body odors, from breath to feet. I’ve taken it for about 3 years and have noticed improvement in scalp odor and morning breath. Word of warning–start slowly and increase to recommended dosage. It does funny things to your bowel and you can have some pretty creepy poopies if you start all at once! LOL

September 10, 2008 at 7:59 pm

I’ve also had problems with candida for years and have wondered if there is a connection. Does anyone else have hair loss/itch/bumpy scalp along with the odor problem?

September 10, 2008 at 9:11 pm

To Andy…your professor can rant all he wants about the candida craze, but he’s never been sick with it for 15 years. Dr. Crook, author of The Yeast Connection was a pioneer in bringing this finding in sooooooooooo many people forward. Europe has known about it for way over 75 years. The USA, with the pharmaceutical companies as their decision makers lord over the minds of medical schools. Plus everything must be measured by a blood sample. If it is not in a blood samble the lab says it doesn’t exist. This causes them to be narrow-minded concerning prevention, and they have no knowledge of nutrition. Countless histories have been made on people connecting the dots. Some candidas/funguses (virtually the same)are connected with parasites as well. Europe does not have a blind eye. Countless people, including myself, have taken 15 years to cure what antibiotics did to ruin their natural flora. Probiotics are good, but they don’t work until the yeast/candida/fungus is killed. For me, it took about 8 garlic gels a day to kill it off. Then the probiotics work. Yeast/candida/fungus exhibits itself in various ways. Doctors in the USA have caused it. They certainly don’t understand that there is such a thing as healthy bacteria that prevents illness, so they just kill all the good stuff. Any way for those of you who are interested in info, read the candida and yeast books. It will make a difference in your other symptoms as well.

September 15, 2008 at 11:28 am

It’s probably just AIDS. Relax.

September 19, 2008 at 2:34 am

Nice to have this website. I have had this problem- oily, smelly, head, since I became a teenager. Now age 65, with thinning hair; you can imagine how many products I have tried. The one thing that I used that worked, so I don’t have to shampoo every day, is antibacterial liquid hand soap, that I tried only when I ran out of shampoo in the shower. It worked for the smell. Now I am looking for other remedies, that might help my thinning hair too. I also use hair powder – a baby powder of corn starch to fill in the VERY thin spots on my head of white hair. It is not entirely satisfactory, but OK for now. Keeping thinking and sharing.

October 7, 2008 at 10:47 pm

I have the same problem. I’m still not 100% sure what it is or what causes it, but after doing some research my best guess is that it’s seborrheic dermatitis, which is mainly caused by a yeast called Malassezia furfur. It also may be caused by a lack of certain nutrients like biotin.

I’ve tried everything to get rid of it. It’s a pretty embarrassing condition to have. Everyone who gets close to you can smell it, and it smells like you haven’t showered in a month. I tried Nizoral, Selsun Blue, T/Gel, other kinds of Neutrogena, Head & Shoulders, Denorex, pretty much every kind of medicated shampoo there is. I tried taking yeast supplements. I tried washing my hair more often or less often. I also tried herbal shampoos and tea tree oil. And if you tell people about your problem, they give you all kinds of bad advice like, “Why don’t you just wash your hair more?” Ugh. Not helpful.

But anyways, I have an actual answer! The only thing I’ve tried that helps is sulfur shampoo. Sulfur shampoo is hard to find but you can order it on the internet. Sebulex is the more expensive brand, but there is also Sebex, which is kind of like a knock-off brand. I promise you this works. It worked for me and my mother (who has the same problem) and it worked the very first time we used it.

I have been using it once a week for about a year and it’s still working. The problem is that if you stop using it the smell does come back. I’m also worried that if I use it too much it will stop working, so I try to use as little as possible.

Hope that helps!

October 11, 2008 at 6:11 pm

I have been suffering with smelly hair and was told by a FNP that I had seborrheic dermatitis, and that I should use Nizoral, which is really expensive. I tried that and it was better, but I still would get that smell less than 10 hours after washing my hair. After looking at all the entries, I just now (today!) went to a pet store and decided to try out some medicated antibacterial shampoo (pricey, $17). It IS for dogs and cats, but the ingredients are the same as those for human antibacterial shampoo. For the bacteria, it has triclosan, sulfur (2%) and it also has salicylic acid which is good because I have oily scalp. I’m familiar with all these ingredients (mostly used for acne) so I thought it’d be ok to use dog shampoo. I washed and dried my hair about 5 hours ago and so far so good. If it doesn’t work out as well as I think it will, I’ll post again…
Good luck everyone. It IS nice to see that I’m not alone. It’s a very embarrasing problem to have, especially because people might think it’s a hygiene problem when it’s not at all.

October 17, 2008 at 10:06 pm

hello everyone! thanks for all the tips.
I have a similar problem but extra problems with the scalp and was wondering if anybody knows about it. My scalp has been smelly for at least 4 years. I wash my hair almost every day because my scalp gets sweaty easily, and with that comes the odor and oil on the scalp. I especially sweat at night. And for the last 8 months or so, i have noticed that my hair is thinning (I’m only 26 and female)
I am wondering if mites can be the cause, or the constant washing. how would I find out? Dermatologists don’t seem to be a great help..
I’m otherwise healthy, eat healthy no medications, allergies or anything. Only on birth control (necon), which I don’t know could be the cause

October 27, 2008 at 7:34 pm

So I am sensing that it’s all to do with yeast somehow?

smelly head
November 14, 2008 at 8:06 am

i have always had oily thin smelly hair. And im glad that Im not the only one. the truth is, besides the fact that it has to do with genetics, it is also a build up of yeast,(malazzeisis furfur),,seborrheic dermatitis and can only be controlled with certain shampoos. but you will always have it, it just needs to be controlled like acne.

November 21, 2008 at 5:46 pm

Thanks for all of the great suggestions. I, too, had tried everything for the past couple of years, including the Sulfur Soap that I got from smellyscalp.com. I couldn’t get it to lather enough and it really dried out my hair. What works? I use a combination of: the generic equivalent of Neutrogena’s T-SAL shampoo, Sulfur Soap and Dial Antibacterial Body Wash with moisturizers. First, lather in a generous amount of the shampoo and rub in the sulphur soap. Leave it on for a few minutes, then rinse and wash with the body wash and leave that on a few more minutes. Spray on conditioner keeps my hair soft, but prevents my scalp from getting oily again. I am so relieved to have found a solution!

November 29, 2008 at 10:44 pm

I’ve had this problem for the past year… it is so frustrating! I’ve tried Selsun, H&S and Giovanna Tea Tree shampoo and conditioner with no luck.

However, in the past few days I’ve been trying Tersaseptic (http://www.stiefel.ca/tersaseptic.php?lang=1) and it seems to be working well!!! I highly recommend trying it.

Good luck with this.

December 12, 2008 at 10:49 am


LIke all the people on this page I suffer from smelly scalp. and I really mean suffer. I’ve had it for almost 15 years now, and have tried everything I could think off. Hundreds of different shampoos, soaps, pills etc. etc. Some appeared to have an effect, but two days later it would be just the same as before. I wash my hair every morning, but a few hours later it starts to smell. It’s awfull and effects my social life. THe last thing I tried is using vitamin K. For two days I was hopefull, but now the smell has returned.

December 17, 2008 at 7:13 pm

I had very oily and a smelly scalp. I’ve tried every shampoo out there. Nothing worked. If it did, it smelled pretty badly. FINALLY, (everyone listen)I came across this shampoo that I have to let everyone know about. It’s called Follicleanse Clarifying Shampoo. IT’S THE BEST. After cleansing with this shampoo the smell is absolutely GONE!!

December 23, 2008 at 10:27 am

I cannot believe that in all these years, no dermatologist has found a cure for this? I have had this condition for 6 years, and it’s strange, because I have no other symptoms, just a smelly scalp. For all you sulfur shampoo users out there: how bad does the sulfur smell? I want to try those shampoos, but I don’t want to smell worse because of it. I’m just tired of having to lather up everyday with 2 different shampoos and drying out my hair. I’m thinking of going to a dermatologist anyway and trying to use a prescription strength shampoo like Loprox. I’ll let you know if this works!

December 28, 2008 at 6:41 pm

Hi all,

after months of researching about the scalp odor, I think I have found a shampoo that will work for all. It’s been highly recommended by someone and many claimed that it worked for them. It’s called: J/A/S/O/N Dandruff Shampoo. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with a conditioner, so you’ll have to find one yourself w/o laureth/lauryl sulfate (bad ingredients!).

A few people stopped using it due to the strong medicinal/sulfur smell it leaves after using, but if you find the right conditioner, it won’t be so noticeable.

I plan on using that and using the Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Treat conditioner. If any of you plan on using it, I suggest using the product every other day for 2-3 months until you sense that the odor is gone/less noticeable. After those months, I then suggest using regular shampoos free of lauryl/laureth sulfates and then use the JASON Dandruff Shampoo once a week for maintenance.

Hope this helps!!!

January 15, 2009 at 7:11 am

My daughter has had smelly scalp/hair for about 3 years now. She is 10 years now. The only time it went away was when she stayed with her aunt and swam daily in her pool. I am sure the chlorine was the key. But I don’t know how to bottle and use that on anyone safely.

Cindy Slater
January 27, 2009 at 6:57 pm

After suffering from this condition for almost 6 months now, I thought I was going insane. My hair smells like “moldy, wet hay” to me and I couldn’t get anyone to understand this. The question I have is whether anyone else suffers from any kind of bumps on their scalps, maybe from scratching so much? I constantly scratch and make my scalp bleed (I know, gross and embarrassing, but how much worse than smelly hair to start with?), so I figure this in itself would be enough to start an infection or fungus of some sort?? Anyway, I’m so appreciative to have found this site and will be trying several of the remedies listed to see what works for me. Will let you know.

Katie Collett
February 10, 2009 at 4:05 pm

Susan, thank you!! My daughter’s hair is so crazy stinky also, no matter what we do…. and I think all these ideas do sound great. I was about to check w/ the dr & getting a prescription shampoo as a last resort… but I do not like drs as far as they are usually quite unhelpful, and I’d much rather find a more natural product, a healthier one, than chemicals and more junk. I really like the Follicle Shampoo idea… it’s right along the lines of what I was going for regarding health anyway. Super!! Thank you!!

random guy
February 14, 2009 at 6:50 am


I need to know because if no one has I will get a check up with my doctor, and if there is a cure I will post it!

I know how it feels like I’m 12 and missing out on some valuable socializing time…

February 19, 2009 at 1:10 pm

Has anyone else tried “Follicleanse” apparently it gets rid of the smell! The description also looks promising check out this link:

May 1, 2009 at 9:45 pm

My husband often had an odor on his hair and neck and it use to really bother me. It was a sweaty kind of smell and very cloying. I noticed he only had the smell sometimes and not always. The smell also lingered in his bathroom and I would go crazy trying to clean it and get rid of the smell with every cleaning product we had. For awhile we thought our son might be the culprit, perhaps peeing in the corner of the bathroom by accident when we weren’t aware. However, one day after I ran out of shampoo, I borrowed my husband’s Head and Shoulders. The next day, I noticed the smell, this time on myself. We have tracked the smell down to his dandruff shampoo. Since then, we’ve thrown it out. My husband uses the Neutrogena TGEL instead and it doesn’t seem to have the same smell. It’s been a big relief to finally track it down and I’ve finally been able to tell my husband he smells knowing it’s not him, but the shampoo.

May 1, 2009 at 9:55 pm

Folks. I suffered from this condition for probaly 13 years. Tried everything including sulfer soaps. All of the symtoms described here were mine – sour smell even after shampooing. It has been over five years now since I’ve had this, almost like a bad dream from the past. The trick for me? Someone suggested Dial anti bacterial body wash. I’m telling you, after a week of using this, it never came back. Good luck ya’all. Try it, only have $4 to lose if it doesn’t work for you.

May 6, 2009 at 3:50 pm

I have smelly,oily, itchy scalp with grainy bits coming out of it. I don’t know of anyone with such a combination of problems. One thing I have come to establish after a lot of reading online is that shampoos which have conditioners in them will never help solve the smelly/oily hair syndrome and guess what, there are no anti dandruff shampoos void of conditioners(clear ones. I think I am going to try the Dial anti bacterial wash.

May 6, 2009 at 10:32 pm

I have the same problem as NJD with the hardened sebum grains and the bad scalp odor. My daughter has it too and so did my father before he passed away. we think ry daughter picked it up from him by using his comb and l got it from her. I’ve been to the dermatologist and tried a lot of remedies – Loprox shampoo, t.Sal, selsun shampoos, Sulfur, vinegar, pyrethione zinc. Nothing works. l’m going w look into Candidase and FolliCleanse xhich I read abort in this thread. I’ll post results.

May 14, 2009 at 7:54 pm

I’m shampooing /w baby shampoo, rinsing then shampooing /w hibiclens which I let sit for about 3-5 minutes. Then, I’m using a spray bottle filled /w 1/3 apple cider vinegar to 2/3 water. I spritz that on and rinse very lightly. I’m also using metrogel 1% on my scalp at night. I feel there is some improvement, but it’s too soon to tell. I’m still trying to find jojoba oil, because it’s supposed to dissolve the sebum. I didn’t say in last post that sometimes I get little bumps at the pore after the sebum grain pops out. These can worsen and feel like small painful blisters, but to look at them, they look pink, no head. Dr. cut one for lab diagnosis, and said it’s folliculitis, but they didnt do a culture. ugh. Has anyone experienced any of this, or have other advice?

K Runner
June 8, 2009 at 9:10 am

I’ve had smelly hair for about two years now – smells dirty and “hairy” even after a regular shampoo, and my hats smell musty and “hairy” too. I’ve tried Nizoral with no luck (though it did help with dandruff). A friend sent me J/A/S/O/N dandruff shampoo (sulfur-based) and that seems to do the job! I am really happy that there is something that helps. The sulfur smell is pretty subtle – I’m a nurse and I’m really sensitive about controlling smells around my patients, so that was a big concern for me. My boyfriend says it’s subtle. Sometimes I use a mild conditioner with it, which helps with the slight sulfur smell. One problem is that if I don’t use the JASON shampoo at least every other day, the smell comes back. I think I’ll try the Dial soap and see if that helps… Good luck everyone, and keep sharing ideas so we can figure this out!

June 8, 2009 at 6:21 pm

I think everyone should see their dermatologist so its brought to their attention and maybe, with all of us going to them with our problem they will find a cure! I have had it for about 5 months now and went to the dermatologist only to learn he knew nothing about it and just gave me some t-gel and nizoral samples to try. Needless to say, they didn’t work. The t-gel seemed to work..for maybe a week or so then right back to smelly! I’m in my 30′s…why is this happening now?

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  • Lisa May 18, 2014, 8:00 am

    Thank you

  • Jasper June 4, 2014, 8:37 pm

    Please send

  • Naomi July 18, 2014, 10:06 am

    Thanks for the good article, there is some more info u can check it out:

  • alex October 13, 2014, 5:36 am

    I still can’t solve the problem

  • Srenee December 30, 2014, 11:58 am

    Please e-book. Thanks!

  • Ashley August 2, 2015, 4:02 pm

    I really hope this works! It felt like hell going to school and knowing when the clock struck 12 it would be another humiliating day.
    Starting puberty and all, it really did feel like a nightmare.
    Thanks for the info!

    • Hello, April 8, 2016, 2:41 pm

      I’m a cosmologist who suffers from hair malodor. I’ve had crying episodes breaking down in the shower wanting to shave my head after shampooing repeatedly with the same results of my mid strand and ends being refreshed yet the scalp still had the not so fresh smell.
      During cosmetology school were trained that what is internal in the body comes out in the hair. Our nails and hair, are, in fact, dead cells. Our reason for not having any feeling in them. Drug tests can be done with a hair strand because whatever is put into the body, comes out in the hair.
      Hair color done in the salon can be affected by medicine released in the hair. Perms will not complete their chemical cycle for girls before their,” cycle,” begins, in some cases.
      I also found that specific foods work as an internal potpourri. Or so they say? Such as tomatoes and pineapple. Maybe that is where bathing in tomato product after a skunk sprays came from? But we can’t live on pineapples and tomatoes! Or can we? Yea. If your trapped on a desert isle of tomatoes and pineapple then you will smell excellent.
      My conclusion. The smell is coming from the inside out. It could be medicine, hormones and/or diet? My remedy. I don’t have one. Because I’m not a doctor, scientist, or dietician.
      But in my cosmologist opinion as a trained professional, I would say, see a doctor!
      Not family care or dermatologist. That’s like going to a dentist for a yeast infection. Go see a hormone specialist or internal medicine doctor! That is the last resort for every unknown ailment with no cure.
      They’re sometimes hard to find. I’m from a big city and it took me a week to find an endocrinologist. Look up the definition of one on wikepedia! They deal with hormones and secretions. Problem sort of solved.
      Everyone has a unique fingerprint, even identical twins. But their tongues are identical. We all have a unique PH balance with alkalinity and acidity. This can be interrupted or produced by say, a perm, which has a super strong odor.
      I revel in coloring my own hair day because I’m chemically addicted. For the plain and simple fact that the color and developer, do away with my hair problemo.
      Long story short. Internal medicine doctor.

  • Chrissy December 7, 2015, 8:28 pm

    Cant download the ebook

    • Randy Schueller December 8, 2015, 8:25 am

      We lost it when our server crashed and we haven’t been able to restore it yet -sorry about that!

  • Jan January 1, 2016, 4:00 am

    If you don’t have it anymore, I can understand that… but could you just please ask someone else who already received it to send it back to you? Can someone here please forward it to Randy Schueller?

  • Jessi January 16, 2016, 4:52 am

    If e-book becomes available again I would like a copy as well, please! Thank you!

  • pamela May 6, 2016, 10:37 am

    yes, please if the e-book is available again, let me know!

  • Tsippi May 10, 2016, 9:27 am
  • Emilie Horne June 19, 2016, 7:45 am

    Okay, so one night I straightened my hair and went to bed without showering. I showered that next afternoon and after I got my hair wet it started to smell like chemicals kinda like after you get your hair professionally done. It has been like this for the past few days and the odor won’t go away. What is the cause of this????? I need serious answer ASAP.

  • Fred July 6, 2016, 7:10 am

    I think i may have found a solution.

    I suffered this for 12 years despite good hygiene. I remember “catching” it while on holiday. Whether it was something in the pool, sea, pillow or just increased washing frequency I’ll never know. I used to have short hair, then long hair, and now I’m quite bald with a shaved head (washed regularly and quick drying) and yet still my scalp smelled bad. It was a mildew type smell, and my scalp often became itchy after 12 hours after washing. Docs couldn’t help.

    however, i’ve been (hopefully) cured, no smell for several months. I can now even go for 4-5 days without washing my hair without any noticeable smell, as i could before i was affected, whereas when i had it, it was about 4-5 hours if i was lucky. Most of the time it would still smell after a shower.

    I tried sulphur soap in the past, and i think it help to some extent, but only for a short while, then the smell came back with a vengeance. Also, the sulphur soap i used had an additional smelly side effect, which manifested in sunlight, whereupon i would smell like burning rubber. Not placebo, my mate kept asking what the smell was! Also tried coal tar, apple cider vinegar and nizoral without success.

    Recently though, i tried Terbinafine Hydrochloride, found in lamisil athletes foot spray. Applied daily and rubbed into my scalp (easily done with my lack of hair!) for about a week until the spray ran out, this got rid of it for a month or so. However, i think i had a bit of a relapse at one point, so used the lamisil “once” cream, rubbed into my scalp daily, again until it had run out, and several months down the line, i am completely free of scalp odour. No side effects. Though i think the success depends on the ability to get the product onto the scalp. With my slap-head, it’s pretty easy. With long hair, it will be very difficult unless lots more product is used, which may have adverse effects.

    Since Terbinafine Hydrochloride is an antifungal compound, perhaps an antifungal pill would work as an alternative?

    I am, of course very happy to be rid of the smell. I found it extremely damaging to my self confidence, and i hope that everyone affected is able to find a solution.

    I must add, use this method at your own risk. The products involved were not designed or tested for scalp use, and there’s always the risk if side effects.

    • Randy Schueller July 6, 2016, 7:38 am

      Very interesting, Fred. My hypothesis has been that this is fungal related too. Let us know if this continues to work for you.

  • Chloe July 12, 2016, 8:19 pm

    I tried everything to get rid of my smelly hair problem. It started two years ago and I tried all the suggestions on this website, but nothing worked . I bought pentene Pro V colour revival cleansing conditioner just to try (new). After using this product about two or three times I noticed my scalp did not smell anymore. It’s awesome shampoo/conditioner and I couldn’t believe it took the smell out of my scalp. I hope this helps anyone else who suffers from this condition.

  • keira.mustus August 31, 2016, 10:39 pm

    yes thank you so much it smelt like dirty everything just can`t explain it it felt like bugs were crawling in my head gross!! but until you came along you told me what to do and it worked my head is back 2 normal thank you so much;)

  • Jennifer H September 6, 2016, 12:36 am

    I have very baby fine hair and an itchy scalp that’s prone to bumps. If I didn’t wash my hair for a day I’d be a greasy stinky mess and my hair would be limp and dull. I tried LUSH “Big” shampoo and OMG- it’s a game changer. No more smelly hair, my scalp feels so much healthier and I can actually go DAYS without shampooing. I think a lot of issues were coming from a product buildup on my scalp. I stopped conditioning because it left my hair so soft, the shine is BACK. You only need a very small amount so don’t let the price dissuade you.

  • Steph September 10, 2016, 12:10 pm

    I’m delighted to say I’ve found a cure (fingers crossed)! I started suffering with this problem totally out of the blue. I’ve never had any issues with my hair or scalp before and have good personal hygiene. I have an extremely sensitive nose so as you can image I was mortified when all of a sudden I started to get whiffs of what I can only describe as sour wet dog coming from my head. At first I thought a hair wash would sort it but it was only after touching my scalp the morning after showering and my fingers stinking of this horrid smell that I knew it was something more…

    Panicked, I began searching the Internet and discovered what I never knew even existed, ‘smelly scalp syndrome’! I tried changing my shampoo and conditioner to an oil rebalancing option thinking it was just my hair overproducing natural oil but that didn’t work. I tried the baking soda trick the next day and even though this reduced the odour ever so slightly the stench was still there when I touched my head and smelt my fingers. I began to really get conscious about this. I couldn’t think of anything worse than being a walking bin bag! My sense of smell is heightened compared to other people and I love the links I have to memories because of my sensitive nose, hence this became such a troubling issue for me. I also didn’t want my partner to smell this – it would be so embarrassing!

    After wracking my brains to think of what could have suddenly caused this, I remembered that the smell had started the morning after I stayed at a friends. At the time I didn’t think much of it, I’d been out partying the night before so thought my hair had just picked up the odours in the air. BINGO! There must have been something on the pillow! Why all of a sudden did I have this horrible smell which I couldn’t get rid of?

    That’s when I thought it must be a fungal infection of some sort. I also noticed that this horrid smell seemed to be in patches on my head, it was far worse on the tops and sides of my head than it was near my hairline or neck. I looked up shampoos that people had recommended and even though I was hopeful that a medication or anti fungal shampoo would work, I didn’t want to have to spend a fortune on expensive products or wait for it to be delivered if I ordered online. I was seeing my partner the next day and I just wanted it to be fixed.

    I’d read that someone had used an antibacterial shower wash and had received great results so I thought I’d give that a go. I went to my local ASDA and purchased a Radox Replenshing and Actibacterial hand wash for 90p. It has extracts of thyme and tea tree in this and it’s blue in colour. I also purchased a small bottle of 100% pure tea tree oil for £2. Folks, this cured my smelly scalp!

    Now I’m not sure if the way I washed my hair had anything to do with it, but I washed and rinsed my hair three times. The first time I used a large handful of the antibacterial hand wash on its own, rubbed it around my head and really gave it a good scrub. I used my fingertips making sure I wasn’t scratching my head in any way, just really getting the product all over my head. Once lathered, I waited 5 minutes and washed this off. I then repeated the process making sure I was focusing in the problem areas and waiting 3 minutes, then rinsed off. I then repeated the process again but added 6 drops of the pure tea tree oil to the antibacterial hand wash. My head felt so good! Tingly and fresh. I left this on for probably 3-4 minutes and then rinsed. I towel dried my hair and then used a hair dryer to make sure my hair was fully dry.

    NO SMELL! It’s now a full 24 hours after (I know this is early days) but my head is completely free of the horrid odour. If I touch my head and smell my fingers they smell completely normal like it used to. My scalp actually smells fresh like tea tree and I am so pleased with the results. I think I will use this again the next time I was my hair just to make sure the fungus has completely gone but then I will start introducing the tea tree oil into my normal hair wash routine to keep any fungus at bay.

    I’m not sure if anyone will find this useful but I thought I’d share my solution with others in case it helped you also. I’m so pleased with the results and finally feel back to normal. I’ll keep you guys updated but best of luck with your fight against this horrid condition!

  • Lindsey September 22, 2016, 10:51 am

    I too am suffering from this issue sadly. Mine started this year and gets worse from time to time. I’ve been studying very closely what seems to make it flare up and recently it got very bad so I’ve gone at it full force. Like the reviewer above, mine too seems to be in patches on my scalp and at its worse would start to smell about 6 hours after a shower- yuck. Not only that but my hair would be sooo greasy I constantly wanted to shower.

    I’ve always known I’ve had an overgrowth of yeast in my system – lots of yeast infections, thrush once in my twenties, etc. After doing my research it’s clear that this is gut issue that causes a fungal infection on your scalp. Not an easy problem to tackle. I’ve tried ALOT of things. Shampoos, cleanses, diets, etc. I think they all have a small effect, but nothing cures. What I’ve found personally is a combination of a lot of things. It’s only been a week of me on this regime, and it took about 4-5 days (be patient) to start working but it finally is.

    First when it comes to eating- hydration is HUGE. Give yourself 2 weeks on this protocal and drink an excess of water, as much as you can. Second, for me I had to heavily cut back on carbs. I noticed when I would have oatmeal for breakfast it was BAD. Refined sugar is also not your friend whatsoever. A small amount of sugar is fine, but stay away from processed junk food. I’ve been sticking to a high fat (good fats), veggie and protein diet.

    High potency probiotic – 100billion+. Take 1 when you wake up on an empty stomach and 2 before you sleep. They have the opportunity to multiply when you’re sleeping.
    Saccharomyces boulardii- Take 2 when you wake up on an empty stomach and 2 before you sleep
    Candidase extra strength- 1 15 min before each meal, 3 times a day.

    All of these can be found on amazon.

    Lastly I wash my hair with Sal3 salicylic acid & sulfur soap. I let it sit for about 10min on my scalp. Then I wash with regular shampoo because it does have a faint smell of sulfur. This is an okay trade off for me given the normal smell im used to.

    Today I have no smell and I showered yesterday around 4pm. Thats pretty unheard of given what i’m used to. It’s been almost 24 hours. I think the most important part of this strategy is the supplements. Getting the bad bacteria in your gut under control.

    I cant say for certain if its a permanent fix but its definitely working so far!

    • Liz November 28, 2016, 5:32 pm


      What was your smell like? Mine is musty and seems to capture whatever is in the air no matter how clean I am! I have had it for years. Ugh. Has this method continued to work for you?


  • Aly September 29, 2016, 8:05 pm

    I’ve had this problem since my freshmen year of highschool (I’m now a senior) and I was always very embarrassed about it, so embarrassed that I never mentioned it to anyone, I tried to avoid any close contact with anyone because I didn’t want anyone to be able to smell it, I would wash my hair everyday at least twice a day in hopes that it’d work and the smell would go away, I would pray to God everyday that the smell would go away. Before my problem I was a very social person but because of this I’ve become a very anti-social person, very timid, and very anxious. I’ve developed severe social anxiety because of it, it took me four years to finally get the courage to go to the doctor and I’m very happy, the doctor checked my scalp and told me that I had red patches on my scalp which she believes is a fungus, I told her how clean of a person I am and how I don’t know why this started happening and she had no idea why it started but she did prescribe me an anti-fungal shampoo, I will keep you posted on my journey! Please, please, please visit your doctor! I’m so upset that it’s taken me this long to go to the doctor, and I was in and out in 20 min, if I would’ve went in sooner I would’ve had the best high school experience!

  • Julia October 28, 2016, 4:00 pm

    I finally got rid of it!
    After researching it on a couple sites I went with the assumption it’s a fungal infection and started treating it as such.
    Specifically, I looked for a treatment that would only kill off fungi and not bacteria (bacteria are needed for keeping the fungi off in the long run), and leave the natural skin barrier as intact as possible.
    I bought some Clotrimazol cream and extra mild sulfate-free baby shampoo, the whole process took about 3 months and cost about 8€. If you need to replace or dry clean stuff, it might get a bit more expensive though.
    Sorry for the lengthy post, I wanted to put all of my findings and thoughts out there to help others who suffer the same problem.

    If you want to try it, here’s what I did:

    -every night before going to bed, rub Clotrimazol cream into scalp and go to sleep (overapplication will not help here, it’s only important to cover most of the area and leave it on overnight, so use only the amount necessary to get a thin coating over your scalp. It should look slightly greasy, not like a pile of goop). Wash your hair in the morning, with the mildest possible surfactants. Do not put anything irritating like essential oils or alcohol on your scalp, it needs to heal properly. Clotrimazol contains panthenol, which is soothing in itself, you don’t need to do a tea tree/sulfur/tar/everything overkill. If you feel you must put stuff on your scalp after washing, consider chamomille or calendula tea.
    -do not soak your hair or leave it wet for extended periods of time. Air drying is ok in summer, but in winter I’d recommend at least partially blow drying it (as cool as possible, overdrying and heat can irritate the scalp too).
    -let your scalp breathe, don’t wear hats indoors etc. When at home, wear your hair down as often as you can.
    -don’t use conditioner on your scalp, it has occlusive stuff in it that will prolong the drying process (and as much as the CO-crowd will hate me for this, cationic surfactants are actually quite irritating. Google it).
    -keep your fingernails as short as possible – if for some reason you can’t, consider wearing vinyl gloves when washing your hair.
    -wash everything that comes into contact with your hair, including hats, beanies, scarves, pillowcases and the pillow itself (if it’s down or some other non-washable material, throw away and get a new one). Hats and coats that can’t be washed should at least be dry cleaned.
    -sort through your hair brushes, utensils and stuff, and clean them thoroughly. Soak plastic brushes in hot water with dish detergent for at least an hour, throw away anything that can’t be washed (boar bristle brushes, I’m looking at you!) and don’t forget stuff like hair pins, elastics (you can throw them in the washing machine in a laundry bag or pillowcase) and diffusers. Literally everything that touches your hair.
    -Throw away any combs and brushes that may scratch or damage your scalp. Run them over the back of your hand to see if they leave any scratch marks. If you’re on a really tight budget, broken pins on a hairbrush can be repaired with a drop of nail polish or pried out with pliers, and molding fins on combs can be sanded or filed down. I’m still on the fence about the tangle teezer, it seems a little scratchy, but it’s probably ok if you use it for detangling only and not directly on the scalp.

    I slowly transitioned from clotrimazol/washing every day, to every other day, to twice a week. I went through 2 tubes of clotrimazol cream and after about 3 months I didn’t need it anymore – now I just wash my hair twice a week and there’s no smell and no itching anymore. It’s been almost a year now and the smell hasn’t come back. As I’m writing this, I actually haven’t washed my hair in a week (with my curly mane I can get away with it :P) and it still only smells of my coconut conditioner.
    If my hair gets sweaty or dusty from exercise, heat or yard work and it’s not washing day yet, I just rinse it with water and blow dry a little. I have very dry skin though, including my scalp, so ymmv. It used to be much oilier with the infection though, so I suspect a lot of the oily hair problems in people with “smelly hair syndrome” are caused by the inflammation reaction in the skin, similar to what happens with seborrhoic dermatitis.

    Some side notes:
    -when it comes to shampoo ingredients, you can google skin irritation potentials, there’s a ton of scientific research out there – as a general rule of thumb though, avoiding sulfates and sticking with glucosides, sulfosuccinates and glutamates will probably work.
    -if you can’t get sulfate-free shampoo, dove beauty bar is an ok substitute, they contain isethionates as surfactants, which are in the medium range of irritation potentials. Not as mild as glucosides, but still better than SLS or SLES. Dove still contains some soap (tallowate/palmitate) though, so if you have hard water you may need to do a vinegar rinse afterwards to avoid soap buildup on your hair.
    -stay away from anti-dandruff, antibacterial or antifungal shampoos, they’re usually harsh on the skin and will leave your scalp even more vulnerable to infections. If you’ve got some left over you can use it to clean your hair brushes and combs, or wash your wool scarf.
    -it’s important you get the Clotrimazol cream, not the spray, as the spray contains alcohol which will irritate and dry out skin and also kill off the good bacteria. If you can find a spray that’s alcohol-free, you can use it though.
    -avoid salons if possible, they use harsh shampoos because they work more quickly, and you can actually get infected again if the hairdresser didn’t clean their tools properly. If you must go to a salon, ask if you can bring your own shampoo (you usually can), and the next time you plan to wash your hair repeat the clotrimazol treatment just to be safe. This also applies to everything you do to your hair that is harsh on the scalp, like perming, dyeing or bleaching.

    Please note that this is just my method, what worked for me doesn’t have to work for everyone. There are probably multiple causes for smelly hair, and some may be bacterial or otherwise. Mine was acquired from a salon and more of a musty “old rag/moldy bread” smell. Since the clotrimazol worked, it must have been fungal/yeast.
    If your hair smells like “wet dog” it’s probably bacteria inside the hair shaft (since this is the reason dogs smell like that). Chlorine could possibly help with that, at least it does with some bacterial skin infections, like secondary infections from atopic dermatitis. Hair porosity may also have something to do with it. But that’s just a wild guess.

    Fun fact: I’ve successfully used clotrimazol to treat a fungus on my opuntias.

  • Tiana November 5, 2016, 8:22 pm

    After reading every comments, I’m so glad that I’m not the only one that’s suffering from this embarrassing problem. What I’ve found to be soooo helpful was Clean’s comment (and I want to thank her). She said she was “cured” by taking Candidase. At first, I was kind of skeptical, but…what the heck…I’ve tried everything! So I ordered a bottle from GNC, I kid you not! Within the third day, I could tell a big difference! I rubbed my fingers on the scalp to check, and it had no smell. I normally have to wash my hair every day and would have a bunch of fallouts and by midday I could already smell that oily smell. I tried not washing my hair for three days and the smell was still not there. I can’t tell you how excited I am to have cure this problem. Plus, it also cured my bad breath (embarrassing, I know!). I brush my teeth three times daily, plus flossing but my mouth still doesn’t feel clean. So I did some research and found that it could be systemic and not poor hygiene because I’m a clean freak.

    Apparently, Candidase helps with controlling yeast level that does not only affect vaginally but also other parts of the body. And it helps with cleansing your intestine, which can be the cause of bad breath. I hope this will help those of you who suffer with the same problem. It sure did helped me. You’re more confident when you know you smell good, and it helps with your social life, too.

  • Laura December 7, 2016, 5:35 am

    One very smart solution
    If the odor is chronic and it is not food related( garlic, onions etc.)
    Then try this.

    Monistat 2 pea sized mixed with 2 Tablespoons of water in a bottle with pointy applicator. ( like a hair dye bottle)
    After washing hair apply to scalp.
    Rub it into scalp a little yo get ot everywhere.
    Blow dry your hair completely.
    Style as desired.
    Repeat 1-2 times per week as needed until you can drop back to 1-2 times per month.

    Reason why this works and sulfa and other natural anti fungals kind of work- yeast overgrowth. I got yeast overgrowth when I used Wen and 1/2 of my hair fell out. It is an off label use and you can check with your doctor if it makes you uncomfortable but let me tell you…like a miracle. No smell…hair will immediately stop falling out.
    Be sure to dry the hair as the hair will grow more yeast if it is wet over a long period of time. Yeast is everywhere and I am not a chemist to figure out how much of it my scalp should have, but gee golly…this works.
    Fyi monistat 1 through 7 is all the same stuff.. The numbers reflect the days.
    Today is a good day.

  • Natalie January 3, 2017, 12:47 am

    Chona- what you are describing sounds like a hormonal imbalance. Check wyour ob/gyn it could be as simple as your birth control. Thinning hair is also a symptom of thyroid/adrenal fatigue issues. Good luck!

  • Mel January 3, 2017, 12:34 pm

    I’ve had this problem for 10+ years, I’m 30. I came to realize that the wet dog smell would be stronger if something triggered me to be angry, anxious, nervous. I think because it made my skin (scalp) sweat? Even though there were times where I’d have a great day, and still had a smelly scalp. I probably had a good day once or twice a week, if even. Of course this did not help with me self esteem and it made me very self-conscience. I felt devastated to read that for some, they were over 60 and they still hadn’t found a solution! After a lot of research, reading and trying to figure it out. I read from a lady that her husband started having a smelly scalp and they couldn’t figure it out. They eventually realized it all started when he started using head & shoulders for dandruff. I recall having a lot of dandruff growing up. My mom tried many shampoos and finally in my late teens, I began using head and shoulders. I had finally solved the dandruff issue but also figured it could have just been that I wasn’t washing my scalp very well, idk. Well that’s how far I can remember having the smelly scalp issue, so I could almost assume it was the shampoo affecting the PH of my scalp, causing my scalp to produce excessive oil or sebum which was causing the smelly scalp. I don’t even know if I make sense, that’s my conclusion of everything I’ve read. I did try the dial blue liquid bodywash on my hair for a week, it worked the first 3 days, then it went right back to smelling. I also read about different natural ways to wash your hair like baking soda, apple cider vinegar, eggs, honey, avocado, but I was afraid of experimenting and risking an even more smelly scalp, especially at work. I finally took the step to try to go without using shampoo, just natural ingredients. I’ve read that using baking soda too often can damage your hair, it’s recommended about once a month but to start off, you can use it daily, decreasing the portion used. I used baking soda (with water), rubbed it on my scalp, rinsed, then used apple cider vinegar (with water) – for 3 days, washing in the morning. The first day, I still had the smell, the second day, it was less, the 3rd day it was a lot less. That third night I washed it with 2 egg yolks and 2 tablespoons of honey. And the next morning of the 4th day I did the same. I just rubbed the hair as it dripped down. By this time, I did not have the wet dog smell on my scalp! It was just a light regular oily scalp smell, just normal, not strong or bad. The 5th morning I used half of an avocado (blend it) and added a little bit of baking soda, I didn’t measure… well I was excited and feeling good that my scalp was not smelly anymore and it had been 5 days without using shampoo. The next 3 days I used only honey to wash my hair. I started by mixing honey with water to where it’s not too runny, but now I just pour it on my scalp. I have the Great Value brand from Walmart, I read to use the raw honey, but I’m using what I have, I have also read that using too much of raw honey can be bad, idk, it’s been too much information to remember so do your research 🙂 My hair was starting to feel a bit greasy but I could only feel it once I took a shower. You can’t tell because I towel dry my hair and then use tresemme extra firm control mouse so my hair looks a little wet, so I can’t tell if it’s greasy or not. It itches just a little bit but not as much as when I was using shampoo. So far I figured out the smelly scalp had to do with the shampoo I was using – all the chemicals. I had tried Jason Tea Tree Shampoo but it really didn’t work. . I have started to notice that my scalp feels a bit greasy, like dirty greasy and I’ve noticed that I have sebum, which creates flaky stuff when I scratch, making it look like dandruff. But I’m not freaking out. I’m glad I managed to get rid of the smell so far with this experiment. I’ll figure something out. Yesterday, day 9th, I used Shampoo just to try to get the greasy feeling out and to try to have some soapy substance on my scalp to be able to wash away the flakiness of my scalp – I figured I could wash it once but I didn’t want to use head and shoulders so I used the tea tree shampoo. Later that night I noticed the smell coming back. And today, day 10th I used honey again. I’m not sure what I’ll do next. The chemicals in the shampoo cause some sort of imbalance when it mixes with the oils of my scalp which cause the bad smell. But not washing it has made it feel a bit dirty, which is not a big deal, but I have also noticed the flakes. It could be the PH on my scalp needing to come to a balance. Maybe I’ll start shampooing once a week, and eventually go down to once a month, who knows… I just wanted to share what I have found so far 🙂 I’ve heard some people that stopped using shampoo, only wash with water and do a natural wash once a week or once a month. Hope to get there soon. Good luck to you 🙂

  • Leah January 7, 2017, 9:13 pm

    Add 10-20 drops of tea tree oil to any shampoo and it will get rid of any fungus or bacteria on your scalp. Tea tree oil is anti-fungal and kills bacteria. You can also use a spray bottle with water and 10-20 drops of tt oil. Tea tree oil is also very effective for killing and preventing lice and their nits.

  • Viv February 19, 2017, 10:18 am

    Hi, so glad to know that I’m not the only one suffering from oily, smelly scalp for years. It’s yucky! I’ve tried putting salt in the shampoo and that helps but I get tired of keeping the salt bottle in the bathroom as the kids think it’s weird. Head and shoulders with mint does help but there’s no shine to my hair. I have straight long black shiny hair. I’m really tired of this stinky smelly scalp and wish that it’ll just go away!

  • Mel May 12, 2017, 10:49 pm

    Try a shower head water filtration system. I never had this issue until moving to an area with hard water. A day after showering, my head would be so greasy it appeared wet, and the odor was musty and unclean so I was forced to wash my hair daily. But this exacerbated my dry scalp, making it crack like a dried riverbed–which then triggered sebum glands to overproduce oils to moisten my scalp, which just perpetuated the cycle. My skin all over my body was dry, as a matter of fact. I carried lotion with me every where.
    Long story short, I read that soft water helped with dry, sensitive skin. So I went to Lowes and purchased the Sprite shower water filtration system for $20 to filter hard water into soft (you just screw it onto the pipe and attach your shower head directly to it. Simple installation). My scalp odor, the greasiness, the unimaginably dry, flaky skin all vanished. So perhaps it’s the minerals in your hard water causing the damage.


  • Jegs May 27, 2017, 1:11 am

    Okay so I’m 18 and I’ve never had this problem until about a month ago when i had my hair re-dyed. I got a brand new shampoo and conditioner to help with my split ends. Moreover I started showering every day since i live in CA, the weather is hot over here, which meant I would wash my hair every day aswell. Assuming that it would get rid of my split ends, and it did, but it created a funky smell. It all started one day after sleeping with wet hair, I woke up and was gonna blow dry my hair. When I flicked my head over my hair smacked me on my nose and there was this gross wet dog, mildewy smell. I was disgusted. I continued to wash my hair every day and the smell persisted! I have googled it various times and I’ve come to the conclusion that the only way to get rid of the smell is to stop washing my hair for atleast a whole week. (Washing it only with water if I have to and with conditioner if I really can’t handle it, but under no condition should i use shampoo.) The reason is because I have dried out my hair of it’s its natural oils, I have made my hair follicles go bonkers and release too much estrogen which in turn causes the disgusting smell. I have tried different shampoos this past month but I’m gonna give day old hair a try and see if my hair can go back to normal. I’ll let u guys know what happens. I hope this is my answer to my problem.

  • med August 29, 2017, 6:12 am

    I have the same problem. Im using T-Gel but recently decided to try Nizoral..Disaster!!!
    Ive seen 3 GPs, they all said that they have never heard of this, but it could be fungal infection. One ‘prescribed’ me T-Gel and the other one Nizoral, the third one had no clue and she told me its normal.
    Next week will go again and try and get an appointment for dermatologist.
    Its really frustrating..

  • KP September 1, 2017, 6:42 pm

    Thanks to everyone for sharing their experiences & suggestions. I suffered with a smelly scalp for years, not knowing what was causing it and trying many things (different shampoos, natural products, dandruff shampoos, essential oils, apple cider vinegar, different frequencies of washing, etc.) to remedy it – unsuccessfully. I’ve always washed my hair & bed sheets regularly so I knew hygiene wasn’t the cause. While watching YouTube hair videos months ago, I noticed people talking about MSM/sulfur for hair growth and some commented that it helped with their skin/scalp conditions (dandruff, excema, acne, etc.). Thinking it could possibly help me, I researched then looked into different brands on Amazon. I didn’t know others had the same issue (Smelly Scalp Syndrome) until a few days ago when I Googled smelly scalp. After reading that a probable cause is fungus overgrowth connected to excess oil, and remembering that sulfur deals with fungus & bacteria, I became more hopeful. I was in Walmart last weekend and decided to see if they carried it in the supplement/vitamin section- it was there. The bottle cost less than $10 and I’ve been taking two pills a day. I’ve noticed a big difference & believe this is a solution for me. I am currently on day five of taking the MSM/sulfur and my scalp smell is very minimal now (only slightly noticeable if I rub my fingers on my scalp and smell them). It’s been 4 1/2 days since I washed my hair and I don’t have the itching, flaking, & oily sebum build up that I would have by this time. After I finish the bottle I plan to order a bag of the powder/crystal form on Amazon (just to avoid the binders & fillers). I wanted to share my experience because I haven’t seen anyone post here about taking sulfur internally as a remedy. In other sites’ comments some people had success by mixing sulfur powder/flakes/crystals (in water? I can’t remember…) to form a paste/rinse for their scalp when they wash their hair. I like to keep my routines as simple as possible, and since there are other health benefits for taking sulfur as a supplement I figured I would go the internal route. Two notes- 1) Walmart had other supplements combined with MSM/sulfur (joint formulas) but I got just the MSM/Sulfur by itself, 2) the first couple days I had some flatulence (nothing horrible), but since sulfur is what gives Brussels sprouts & broccoli their smell & gas producing abilities I figured that was to be expected. Best wishes for everyone, this is tough to deal with. Don’t give up! Keep trying until you find what works for you.

  • Anonymous September 30, 2017, 5:40 pm

    Thank you Mel, I purchased the water filtration system today. I started having a weird metallic odor from my head immediately after shampooing. I just moved to a new apartment 4 months ago and started a new job. It’s terrible going in to work and wondering if it’s gonna happen and hoping nobody comes near you. I’ve tried the Paul Mitchell shampoo, bought chlorophyll, and tried Dial antibacterial body wash. The body wash didn’t work. What works for me is Dial antibacterial hand soap followed by my regular shampoo. I have a feeling it is the hard water so thank you again Mel so much! I hate that everybody has to try different things, the only thing I can add to this discussion is to suggest keeping a small hand sanitizer with you if the odor starts you can put a small amount on your scalp and rub it in. God bless you all and hopefully everybody gets rid of this problem including me. Its hard to deal with with and I was embarrased telling my husband why I was buying all this stuff.

  • angel October 8, 2017, 8:33 pm

    I too have/am suffering from smelly hair syndrome. I have had it for a few years but it seems to come and go. I would have it for months, and then it would be gone for some months. I am unfortunately in a stage of having the smelliest scalp of all these episodes. Honestly it is disgusting, at times it can smell like cheese, others like rancid oil, sometimes like a wet dog.

    I really think its something related to overproduction of oil/sebum and the smell produced from it oxidising as well as the bacteria/fungus eating the oil. I find when I am really hot and my scalp gets hot, the smell is even greater.

    I recently have been trying head and shoulders, t-gel, eucalyptus oil, etc to no avail, they get rid of the smell from the past day, but when I rinse, and rub my scalp, the same smell still sits there.

    I have in the past used selsun Gold (the one in the yellow container with a milky orange shampoo), and that seemed to work. It contains selenium sulphide, which is an anti fungal. I usually avoid using selsun as its sulphur content is off putting: if you rinse your hair, the suds get over your body, and can make you smell like eggs during the day. Well, I had got to my wits end and was so sick of going to work and worrying about my scalp stinking, or getting a whiff of my smelly scalp and being so self conscious that my colleagues would be able to smell it too, then having to run off to get some dry shampoo or spraying my scalp with perfume, that I decided to try it again.

    I am now a week into using the selsun and for now, the smelly scalp *seems* to be gone, or at least is going away. I would recommend doing a salon style sink rinse, rather than using it in the shower, to avoid your whole body smelling like sulphur. I wrap a towel around my shoulders, wet my hair with lukewarm water, work the selsun shampoo into my scalp with one of those shampoo scalp massagers (which is great in manually scrubbing away any sebum or oil. I allowed it to sit for minimum 15 minutes so that the sulphur could do its job, then rinsed with lukewarm water.

    Something that I have also changed that may have helped is drinking peppermint tea, which is meant to reduce oil production in your body.

    Try and avoid using conditioner that is too moisturising, as it will make your scalp even oiler. Also avoid any shampoos/conditioners that create any build up. e.g. stuff with silicones, keratin, etc. I was using a Schwartzkopf extra moisturising conditioner on my ends, and to be honest, it was only after using this for a few weeks, that my smelly scalp came back.
    Also I would strongly recommend against using any oils or treatments on your hair, e.g leave in oils, coconut oil. The moment I used these was when my smelly hair came back, and when I used a leave in oil overnight, the next morning my scalp smelt like feces. It was awful.

    So my tips would be

    – Keep your scalp dry – no extra moisturising agents. When your hair goes back into a ‘normal’ state, use a shampoo/conditioner for normal hair. Anything for damaged hair will throw your oil production off balance.
    – Blow dry your hair on a low heat setting immediately after washing to avoid creating an environment for fungus to grow
    – Use Selsun Gold and really work it into your scalp with a shampoo scalp brush. (https://www.amazon.com/Shampoo-Massage-Brush-Assorted-Colors/dp/B0002RPTX4 they are cheap and easy to find at dollar stores)
    – Avoid overheating your body. the heat goes to your scalp and creates an environment for bacteria and fungus
    -Avoid hot water on your scalp when washing, always use lukewarm water, as hot water can make your hair create more sebum.

    I hope this helps. I know how frustrating and especially embarrassing this can be. I am not sure if the smell will come back, but for the past week using the selsun shampoo seems to have worked. If not I am probably going to try the tea tree oil method. I also am not sure how well this will work with other people here but it seems to have been the best result I have found after a month of different experiments.

    Good luck!!!!!!

  • Yvette February 4, 2018, 2:22 pm

    My daughter is 21 n a single mom n she needs help no health insurance so, it’s hard to see a doctor. She takes a shower every other day n has a smell. Help

  • Tiffany February 21, 2018, 4:00 pm

    I finally have found the solution to this problem thanks to this site and I’m still in shock the smell is gone! I have struggled with a smelly scalp for more than ten years. The intensity of the smell has varied throughout this time. It has affected my social life and my self confidence immensely. At one point I even took a semester off from attaining my undergraduate degree to try to get to the bottom of it but without luck. Being a female in my twenties who places a big importance on personal hygiene, it’s a problem that has haunted me. I would hate others to think I’m not good about washing my hair when I literally am always washing it with some new shampoo to try to cure the problem. I have received many comments and questions from others throughout the time span about my hair, as well as comments about the smell of it. I’m so grateful to have heard of Candidase from these comments! I have been taking it faithfully for over a week and I am amazed.. no scalp smell! And I haven’t even washed my hair since 2 days ago. I haven’t had a smell for this entire week. Usually after 12 hours of using baking soda and shampoo on my scalp, the smell would return. My family members can confirm the lack of smell, whereas before, they easily smelled it. If anyone out there is still struggling with smelly scalp syndrome, order a bottle of Candidase, it will change your life! I feel so blessed and grateful to have found this solution, I have been researching a cure for what feels like forever. I’m still amazed and completely shocked, I feel like this isn’t even real! But it is! I have been taking it along with hormone balancing herbs as well as supplements such as magnesium, vitamin D, and vitamin K, as well as going outside into the sun. I am seeing beneficial changes in my skin, digestion, energy levels, and more. I feel so much happier and confident now. Much thanks to those who shared about Candidase!

  • Fav February 28, 2018, 3:58 pm

    I don’t know if this will work for anyone else and I don’t want to speak unless I’m sure but after dealing with this for almost 10 years & going through so much humiliation and missed opportunities I finally feel I’ve made some sort of breakthrough with myself. Now trust me I’ve tried everything literally everything. Internally and externally. Every essential oil(tea tree,lavender,etc;), borax, iodine, citric acid, probiotics, antifungals, and probably hundreds of different medicated shampoos and creams. Even foot creams! I went to several different psychs after being told it was all in my head. Took medication for that as well. Nothing. Well I walked in to Walgreens a week ago and stumbled upon a shampoo called Free & Clear. It’s hypoallergenic and free from any irritants and fragrances or oils. I left it but came back a few days later cause I hate the smell of shampoos mixed with the disgusting aroma from smelly scalp so wanted something fragrance free anyways. Low and behold after using it I didn’t get the usual extreme heat and oily feeling even after a whole day of work! And even on the days following I could barely smell anything only a slight greasy smell but no foul stench. I even tried wearing hats cause they’re usually very smelly after even just a few hours of use..and nothing.I’ve come to the conclusion that in my case my scalp is probably just extremely sensitive to 99% of shampoos including organic/natural shampoos. For the first time in almost ten years I actually feel clean. I honestly thought there would be no light at the end of the tunnel for me but finally there is hope. I suggest anyone who’s been in the same situation as me to at least try it. The shampoo says it’s walgreens exclusive but I’ve seen it online. I just hope they don’t discontinue it anytime soon. I’m sure there’s other brands out there as well if you can’t get your hands on it. Best of luck to anyone! I hope this is the last time I ever have to think of this nightmare ever again.

  • anonymous July 24, 2018, 9:30 pm

    In some cases overwashing may cause scalp odor.
    I commented above about having a new job and new apartment. I actually quit my job, telling my husband I felt my sanity was at stake. Now I’m in a new apartment and started a new job, I washed my hair every morning for the first few weeks ( with regular shampoo) and started noticing a stale odor. I googled and realized that I was “overwashing” my scalp. Weird because for years I washed my hair everyday. I washed with dandruff shampoo and skipped a couple of days and odor is gone. The original problem was actually the water in my old apartment. Long story but I always want to report here when I discover some solution.

  • Ash November 10, 2018, 5:42 pm

    I don’t know where to start. I’m relieved to know that I’m not alone! Suppose you never are. I’ve had scalp odour for as long as I can remember, it has spanned from the time I hit puberty till now, I’m 19. I’ve also faced eczema from an early age, though thank God it isn’t even extreme now! 2 years ago I went on a family holiday in a hot country, when I came back my hair was fried and damaged and I had to get it trimmed. After that holiday I noticed that my scalp didn’t smell half as bad, I mean I wear the hijab to school so I used to be self conscious and made sure I washed my hair regularly. It didn’t help that my grandma and mom had strong senses and could smell the lingering of my scalp and if I paid close attention, I could too. It affected my confidence poorly. Just under a year ago I minimised my regular hair washes from 4 times a week to 2. It was messy and my scalp was greasy but I eventually got the hang of it. I noticed the smell wasn’t as evident and my mom and grandma didn’t comment on It.

    Haha, it’s kinda funny but my younger sister has an odour on her scalp and she has bad breath and we tend to take pride in cleaning and shīt but I think we have unaddressed immune problems that we’ve inherited from my dad (he tends to have bad breath) and my mom who has a poor immune system by the looks of it.

    Any ways, a week ago I discussed it with my grandma and she said that from time to time my scalp stinks. It made me wonder and I felt self conscious. No matter how often I wash my pillows, how I let my hair air dry etc and it just wasn’t enough. I personally think summer does amazing things to the skin and hair. Now that we’re hitting the colder months, I’m going to struggle with my scalp issues as they’re more prominent. My hair falls out crazy and it’s so freaking thin. I even consume enough water and apply coconut oil to the ends of my hair. Gah! Like I said no matter my efforts it’s hopeless. The worse thing is that smell is my fear. I’ve avoided helping in the kitchen because I didn’t want the curry stench to be stuck in my hair and now that I’ve put my fears aside it decides to come back…

  • Don't Know December 10, 2018, 1:04 pm

    I had this smelly scalp syndrome (is it just me or it kinda smells like the back of an ear piercing smell?).
    But yeah, I feel like using Head & Shoulders Shampoo actually kinda slows down the process of it smelling (starting to smell) or smell to bad.
    However, I would really like to find a product that actually get rid of that smell 100%.
    Also, I feel like my scalp is also very sensitive, so if I change to certain shampoos then it could potentially react differently/worse especially overnight. Eg: sweating, itchy scalp, greasy hair and the foul smell.

  • anonymous December 20, 2018, 12:08 pm

    I hesitated to post this, because I don’t want to stop anyone from using something that may help….but I must share, I don’t want this to happen to anybody else. Please be careful before trying candadaise. I took two pills every night on an empty stomach because I had only read wonderful reviews. I started having body odor off and on. I immediately stopped taking them, it did not go completely away so I saw an herbalist who sold me a 10 day detox, one day sitting at home my husband and I both said “do you smell something burning?” It was me. I thought toxins coming out. After an awful experience at work I found out through google that I probably have TMAU. I thing it was lying dormant in me for years. Please be careful you do not want this. It’s terrible. Try a low chloline diet. I really think this scalp odor is related to TMAU. My life is changed forever.

  • FGR June 14, 2019, 9:28 pm

    Yes, fungus growing on your scalp causes a very bad smelly head. It also causes you to have a very smelly body. Nizoral shampoo works wonderfully for all. First wash your hair, scalp, and body with a good neutral soap like Neutragena (use a washcloth for your body). Rinse your hair, scalp, and body well. Use Nizoral shampoo on your hair and scalp as well as your entire body (genitals and crotch included). Leave it for 3 minutes so that the active ingredient kills the fungus growth. Wash your towels, pillowcases, blankets, bedsheets, underwear and clothes in a strong solution of Baking Soda to kill fungus and remove any past fungus infestation. Soak and wash your hair brushes, combs and the hair implements with Baking Soda (rinse them after). Do this twice a week. Fungus and dandruff can be contracted when using infected hair brushes and hair implements. Make sure your barber or salon disinfects them using the prescribed method of washing and drying in UV light.

  • anonymous June 27, 2019, 10:55 am

    Research TMAU , when you google it will say fish odor, but it can be many odors including scalp odor. It’s very rare. All my life I thought I suffered from scalp odor but found out last year that it was actually tmau. I invite you to check out the facebook groups tmau overcomers and Mebo patm/tmau. Vitamin b2 100 mg twice a day has been beneficial for me along with cutting out sugar completely. There is hope. Dr Stan Hazen along with cleveland clinic are working on a pill that should be completed late 2019 and then it goes to proctor and gamble for manufacturing and distribution. The pill is for cardiovascular purposes but will benefit those with tmau odor problems. I was discussing this with another group member that started with scalp odor and it progressed to body odor. Be careful what you put in your body. It’s been tough. God bless you all

  • anonymous June 27, 2019, 10:56 am

    Research TMAU , when you google it will say fish odor, but it can be many odors including scalp odor. It’s very rare. All my life I thought I suffered from scalp odor but found out last year that it was actually tmau. I invite you to check out the facebook groups tmau overcomers and Mebo patm/tmau. Vitamin b2 100 mg twice a day has been beneficial for me along with cutting out sugar completely. There is hope. Dr Stan Hazen along with cleveland clinic are working on a pill that should be completed late 2019 and then it goes to proctor and gamble for manufacturing and distribution. The pill is for cardiovascular purposes but will benefit those with tmau odor problems. I was discussing this with another group member that started with scalp odor and it progressed to body odor. Be careful what you put in your body. It’s been tough. God bless you all. My scalp odor is gone now and after about 7 months the new body odor is gone.