A common issue that many men and women struggle with is an oily scalp. Some individuals are genetically prone to producing more oil and having oily skin, but hair products, medications, and other environmental factors can also contribute to the issue. While the body's natural oils are critical to healthy hair, excessive oil can lead to damaged hair follicles, thinning hair, and hair loss.
What Causes an Oily Scalp?
The main ingredient of the natural oils that the human body produces is an oily, waxy substance called sebum. Sebum is produced by sebaceous glands found predominantly near the hair follicles and serves as a barrier against water evaporation, protecting the skin and hair. The substance benefits the hair by preventing it from drying out and breaking, keeping it healthy and smooth.
Sebum is vital to a healthy scalp and hair, but excessive sebum production by the sebaceous glands can cause an oily scalp. Excessive sebum attracts dirt, becoming a mixture of sweat, dead skin cells, and tiny particles of whatever dust is floating in the air. The oil and dirt can cause your hair to stick together, produce dandruff, and, if left untreated, can clog the hair follicles, leading to hair thinning and hair loss.
What Affects Sebum Production?
Research suggests that hormones regulate sebum production. Very active androgens, such as testosterone and androstenedione, are produced by your adrenal glands and the ovaries or testes. The pituitary gland regulates the body's endocrine or hormonal system, determining the production of sebum.
The more active an individual's androgens are, the higher the amount of sebum the body may produce. Sebum production is higher in adult males than adult females, but everyone's sebum production decreases with age, often resulting in dry, cracked skin, as well as dry, brittle hair.
Medical Conditions and Medications
Some medical conditions and medications that can affect the activity of the sebaceous glands and the amount of sebum they produce. Hormonal medications, such as testosterone, progesterone, and phenothiazine, often increase the production of sebum. Other drugs, such as some birth control pills and antiandrogens, have been shown to cause a decrease in sebum production.
Some underlying medical conditions, such as Parkinson's disease, have also been associated with increased sebum production. Since the sebaceous glands are regulated by the pituitary gland and the hormonal system, in many cases, pituitary, adrenal, ovarian, and testicular conditions can cause either an increase or decrease in sebum production.
Evidence suggests that diet can play a crucial role in not only overall health but the health of the hair and scalp. Research shows that your diet can affect how active your sebaceous glands are and much sebum your body produces. For some people, the solution to an oily scalp can be as simple as identifying a food trigger and eliminating it from the diet.
How Does an Oily Scalp Cause Hair Loss?
Sebum is a necessary substance, moisturizing, and protecting the surface of almost your entire body. When the body produces an excess amount of sebum, it attracts dirt and dead skin cells, which can cause dandruff, dermatitis, or scalp eczema. Dandruff and other scalp conditions can clog and damage hair follicles, reducing the growth of new healthy hair.
Additionally, the build-up of oil, dirt, and dead skin cells creates an ideal environment for bacteria to grow. When an oily scalp issue is left untreated, areas can become infected, making the condition more difficult to treat and possibly permanently damaging hair follicles.
Contact New Look Institute
Having an oily scalp doesn't have to lead to hair loss. The staff at New Look Institute are experts at diagnosing the cause of hair and scalp conditions as well as recommending treatment options. If you are dealing with an oily scalp and are concerned about it possibly leading to hair loss, contact New Look Institute today for a FREE consultation.
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