Can Excess Sebum Cause Hair Loss?

When you’re losing your hair, you want to look up all the different kinds of answers that are available to your problem. It’s certainly a good thing to know what can and cannot trigger hair loss in males and females. 

One looming question regarding the reason for hair loss is that can excess sebum cause hair loss. When the hair gets oily, and the excess sebum builds up, do you lose hair? And another question that it leads to is that is this kind of hair loss permanent or temporary. 

People with oily scalps can’t make it “less oily.” They can do a few things to make sure that the oil and sebum build-up doesn’t damage their hair. However, having oily hair is a part of genetics. That itself is permanent and irreversible. 

Now, if you have an oily scalp, you don’t have to go about cursing your fate. People with dry hair also face a host of problems when it comes to their hair. 

Thankfully, these days there’s a lot you can do to better take care of your hair. For instance, people who have dry hair experience more hair breakage. Lacking any moisture, the hair strands are brittle and can break quite easily. With oily hair, frequent washing of the scalp is important. 

What Is Sebum? 

It’s actually a pretty good thing. It’s one of the things on your face that’s helping you not have premature wrinkles. But you can’t expect to age beautifully if you have oily skin. What happens is that people with oily skin have larger pores and thicker skin. 

The skin is thicker in those areas where there are oil glands. Being in greater number in the forehead region, many people with oily skin are less wrinkly there. But on the rest of the face, you can expect wrinkles. Anyway, with that out of the way, let’s get to the crux of the matter. 

Sebum is a natural oil that’s produced by the sebaceous glands in the body. Everyone’s body produces sebum, and it continues to do so throughout the life of the person.

According to Harvard Medical School, the sebum also performs the function of protecting the outermost layer of the skin as it coats it. It prevents the skin from losing water. They also state, “sebum is a complex mixture of fatty acids, sugars, waxes and other natural chemicals that form a protective barrier against water evaporation.”

Without it, your skin will feel dry and cracky. Naturally, some people produce more sebum, contributing to oily skin and scalp, while others produce it less, making their skin and scalp dry. Our hair roots have sebum glands attached to them. Sebum also triggers acne as the oil and dirt can together clog the pores leading to inflammation and bacterial infection.   

What Does Sebum Do To Your Hair?

While sebaceous glands are present throughout our body, we want to know more about what they do in the scalp region. If your hair becomes greasy soon after taking a bath, you have sebum to blame. 

It’s what’s making your scalp oily. However, it’s not all bad to have sebum. Sebum protects and moisturizes the hair on the head. Not only does it kind of coat the hair in a protective covering, but it also protects the scalp from oxidative damage. It can even keep bacteria away from the scalp. 

However, your hair faces its kind of problems with excess sebum. One problem is the greasy sheen that it leaves. It can make it look as if you haven’t taken a bath for days. Washing your hair too much, as a result, can leave your hair dry, causing it to break. 

Another problem is that it can cause itching and dandruff. It happens when a fungus, Malassezia, breaks the oils on the scalp. The breakdown can produce an irritating substance that can make your scalp itchy. It can also cause seborrheic dermatitis, which can result in hair loss.  

Can Excess Sebum Cause Hair Loss? 

Normal production of sebum is what’s called seborrhea. Excess sebum buildup is also called hyperseborrhea, and it causes many problems. Hypersecretion can occur on the scalp, which causes excess production of sebum by the sebaceous glands. It can cause itchiness, pain and hair loss.

You can even have inflammation on the scalp, as a result of which you’ll see flakes of oil trapped between the hair on your scalp. So, in this case, excess sebum can cause hair loss.

What happens is that the excess sebum ends up clogging the pores of the person. This blocks the proper supply of oxygen that hair follicles need to grow healthily. With that not being possible, the hair starts to die. 

There are many reasons why a person may develop hyperseborrhea. Hormonal imbalance can cause hypersecretion. Other than that, digestive issues, metabolic disorders, and stress can produce excess sebum. 

Now to deal with it, you shouldn’t try using too many products that dry out the scalp too much. To compensate for the loss of oil, as the skin becomes too dry, the sebaceous glands can produce excess sebum. For instance, if you over-wash your face because you have oily skin, you can still expect acne as your body will produce excess sebum, which can clog pores. 

Can Excess Sebum Cause Irreversible Hair Loss? 

Excess sebum on its own shouldn’t cause irreversible hair loss. However, you need to make sure that you’re keeping the scalp clean to avoid a build-up. In case excess sebum results in a skin condition like seborrheic dermatitis, even then, hair loss is usually reversible once you get the treatment for it.

How Can You Prevent Build-Up of Excess Sebum?

Other than the genetic factors, using harsh chemicals on the scalp is just as bad. Shampoos advertised as having the ability to clean skin and get completely rid of natural oils are just spewing falsehoods.

The sebaceous glands start producing more oil in order to moisturize the overly cleaned, dry skin, and this leads to excess sebum production. Excess sebum can also cause hair loss in that way.

If you keep touching, running your fingers through your hair, or rubbing the scalp, it’ll make your hair look greasier. Even brushing very often results in the production of excess sebum.  

So, avoid doing these things to prevent the production of excess sebum. You can even consider using those special shampoos made for people who have greasy, oily hair. They won’t overly strip the moisture from your hair.

If you’re someone who uses a lot of hair products and has oily hair, you may benefit from scalp exfoliation every 1-2 times a week. This can help you keep the scalp clean.

If you have lost hair due to sebum build-up, you can get PRP injections as a way of dealing with this problem. They can make the hair stronger and stimulate hair growth.

It’s always better to avoid the problem altogether, though. To ensure that, be gentle with your hair, keep it clean, and when you do wash it, don’t use too hot water.

How To Deal with Excess Sebum After A Hair Transplant?

Patients may develop oily skin and hair after their hair transplant surgery. This is due to the fact that the transplantation process stimulates sebum production within the hair root.

Glands that produce sebum are attached to each hair root. When the graft is transplanted, the gland produces more sebum than usual, as a natural occurrence, and the patient’s hair may feel greasier. This is a temporary situation and will get back to normal in time.

Also, the moisturizing and nutritious hair care products we provide to our patients for their recovery may cause greasy hair. They have to use them for one month and have to wash their hair every day.

When they get back to their old routine, their hair will be as it was before. Due to the excess sebum, they can also develop bumps and acne. They must follow a washing routine and shouldn’t let the excess sebum clog their pores.

Can Excess Sebum Cause Hair Loss After Hair Transplant?

Excess sebum can affect normal hair roots and cause them to fall. However, the transplanted hair is immune to the effects of the DHT hormone. So, you don’t have to worry about permanent hair loss due to excess sebum production. You just need to make sure that you’re taking good care of your hair by keeping it clean.

Concluding Note 

If you have an oily scalp, you don’t have to feel bad about it. Your hair will require some extra care, but it’s the same with people who have very dry hair. Make sure that you avoid the habits mentioned above that can make your hair greasy and use the right hair care products.

Reviewed and Approved by Dr. Cagla Yuksel.

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