Natural Ways to Get Rid of Scalp Odor

close-up of a young man getting his hair washed by a woman
If scalp odor persists despite natural treatments, consult your dermatologist. (Image: George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

While this embarrassing condition might not receive a lot of coverage, scalp odor is a real issue in many people's lives. Anything from stress to hormonal changes can trigger an excess in the production of your scalp's natural oils, which in turn heightens the presence of harmless bacteria, which cause the odor. Because everyone's body chemistry is a little different, you may have to try a few methods before you find a natural remedy that works for you, but fear not --natural solutions are certainly out there.

Odor-Reducing Shampoos

Even with multiple applications per day, regular shampoos might not address the root causes of scalp odor. Instead, turn to shampoos that specifically focus on reducing oil. Seek sulfur shampoos, such as dandruff-fighting natural blends with colloidal sulfur or those that contain zinc, both of which are naturally occurring substances. Cosmopolitan recommends tar shampoo, which typically targets conditions such as dandruff and dermatitis but may also ease the symptoms of smelly scalp. Dermititis also causes an increase in oil production, so both issues call for a similar solution.

Target Smelly Bacteria

Target another root cause of scalp odor by focusing on eliminating bacteria. Cosmetic chemist Perry Romanowski of Huffington Post and BeautyBrains.com reports that some people suffering from malodorous scalps found success by washing their hair with antibacterial body wash, which kills odor-causing germs. For natural antibacterial action, look for body washes with ingredients such as lavender, rosemary, garlic or peppermint.

Touch Up With Dry Shampoo

While it may not cure the core causes of scalp odor, Cosmo and Randy Schueller, former Senior Director of Hair and Skin Research and Development at Alberto Culver and Unilever, suggest touching up with dry shampoo throughout the day if smells from your scalp affect your hair. Natural dry shampoos include oil-absorbing ingredients such corn and rice starch, which specifically focus on eliminating odor.

Helpful Home Remedies

Schueller and Earth Clinic speculate that, like stink-causing bacteria, fungus feeding on excess oil may lead to scalp odors. As a home remedy, Earth Clinic suggests treating your scalp with the antifungal agent apple cider vinegar, which also lends vitamins and minerals to your hair. Tea tree oil serves the same antifungal purpose, though it also acts as a moisturizer, so it may not be the best solution for people with naturally oily hair. For occasional scalp-sanitizing treatment, hydrogen peroxide lightly diluted with water works as a germicidal agent, killing scalp-based bacteria through oxidation.

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