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Oily scalp — Ask Dr Jean

Ask Dr Jean 11 Jul 2019
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When it comes to women's health, there is no such thing as a silly question. Do you have a question you want answered, but have been too afraid or embarrassed to bring it up with your GP? Or you forgot to ask while you were in the doctor's surgery? Now, you can 'Ask Dr Jean'.


This question has been answered by Jean Hailes endocrinologist (hormone specialist) Dr Sonia Davison (pictured).

Question

I turned 60 last year and noticed my scalp has become oily more frequently. I used to wash my hair twice per week but now it is necessary to wash three times per week. Is this normal? Having short hair I do not need conditioner. I have normal to oily hair and use appropriate shampoos and interchange between normal and dandruff shampoos.

Dr Sonia Davison

Answer

This may be related to hormones, with the most common type of hormone associated with oil production being the androgen group (testosterone and similar hormones).

If there is excessive facial or body hair growth, acne or oily facial skin, or scalp hair loss associated with the increased oil production, it is worth asking your GP to test your androgen hormones.

Androgens in women fall with age from around 20 years, are half of their peak level at age 40 years and then reach a low at age 65 years, but have a slight increase after this age, hence you may be undergoing this natural slight increase a little earlier than other women. There are a few pathological causes of high androgen levels that may need to be excluded. Thyroid hormones may also affect hair growth, but not usually oil production.

Medications may alter scalp oil production, and your hairdresser is an excellent person to assess the general condition of your scalp, as are dermatologists.