It is often advised not to wash your hair too often to prevent it from drying out, but what are the implications of not washing your hair for days — especially in a hot and humid country like Singapore? When washing your hair, how often is considered too often?
Read on to find out what you can expect when you don’t wash your hair for days.
Excess oil and grease
There is a misconception that people with oily hair should wash their hair less often. The scalp naturally produces sebum, which helps moisturise and protect the scalp. If left unwashed for days, it could lead to an excess of sebum on the scalp and a greasy appearance.
Opt for a shampoo that controls excess oil production, such as clarifying shampoos. These are tailored to deep-clean the scalp, and have natural botanical ingredients, such as tea tree oil and witch hazel, which helps keep excess oil in check.
As the main role of shampoo is to cleanse the scalp, not washing your hair can lead to the buildup of dirt and debris on the scalp. This, in turn, creates an environment perfect for bacterial growth, including odour-producing bacteria and fungi.
If you experience an unpleasant-smelling scalp despite washing regularly, it may be a symptom of a medical condition. Consult a doctor or hair and scalp professional to rule out any underlying causes and a proper treatment plan.
An itchy scalp could be an indication of an irritated scalp. As mentioned earlier, not washing your hair for days can lead to the build-up of dirt and oil on the scalp, causing irritation and inflammation and trigger itching.
In rarer cases, infrequent washing could also lead to a parasite infestation on your scalp. Keeping your scalp clean with regular washes can help prevent this.
Dandruff and flakes
If you haven’t washed your hair for days and notice flaking, shedding or white spots on your shirt, you may have dandruff. This is a common scalp condition caused by the overgrowth of a type of yeast called Malassezia.
To prevent dandruff, it is important to maintain good scalp hygiene. Over-the-counter anti-dandruff shampoo treatments are also readily available to address the condition. Keep a lookout for active ingredients like zinc pyrithione and ketoconazole to effectively combat dandruff.
Clogged hair follicles
Infrequent washing can lead to clogged hair follicles because of the accumulation of dead skin cells, dirt, pollutants and hair product residue on the scalp. This compounds over time and can cause discomfort or acne on the scalp or along the hairline.
For prolonged periods of time, clogged hair follicles may also start to shrink. This, in turn, shortens the hair growth cycle and leads to hair loss.
The buildup of oil, dirt, sweat and moisture on the scalp also creates conducive conditions for bacteria and fungi to proliferate, putting you at risk of a potential infection.
Scalp folliculitis, also known as acne necrotica miliaris, is a common inflammatory disorder where the hair follicles get infected and inflamed. It often appears as itchy and/or painful pustules along the hairline. This can be treated with oral medications and topical antibacterial or antifungal treatments prescribed by a healthcare professional.
How often should you wash your hair?
There is no blanket recommendation for how often one should wash their hair. However, a good gauge would be to wash your hair every other day, especially in hot and humid countries, or for those with fairly active lifestyles.
In order to determine how frequently to wash your hair, consider the following:
- Hair type — Generally, those with oily hair are advised to wash their hair more often than those with normal to dry hair.
- Scalp condition — Those who suffer from scalp conditions like seborrheic dermatitis or dandruff may be prescribed a medicated shampoo for regular use.
- Lifestyle — Active lifestyles that lead to heavy sweating would warrant more frequent washing to maintain a clean scalp and prevent clogged pores.
- Hair styling products — More frequent washes are recommended for those who use hair styling products in order to effectively remove product residue and prevent buildup on the scalp.
- Weather — Hot and humid environments, like Singapore, generally require more frequent hair washing.
Personal preference also plays a vital part in defining your washing schedule. Pay attention to your body and how your scalp and hair feels, and this can help guide how often to shampoo your hair.
What to do when symptoms persist despite washing?
Not washing your hair for days can lead to discomfort, itching, and a myriad of other scalp and hair-related problems. Thankfully, they are also very treatable.
If you experience the aforementioned symptoms despite washing, consult a scalp and hair specialist for a proper diagnosis and personalised treatment plan.
Hair and scalp treatment in Singapore
In order to maintain a clean and healthy scalp, you can consider regular visits to a hair and scalp professional. TrichoLab offers a range of scalp treatments to address individual scalp concerns in Singapore.
The 360° Essential Scalp Treatment is a 90-minute non-invasive procedure for those who want to maintain optimal scalp and hair health. After a thorough pre-treatment scalp analysis, technological solutions, such as iontophoresis, galvanic heat massage and radiofrequency treatment are done to effectively disinfect, detoxify and boost scalp oxygenation, as well as promote hair growth.
It is important to establish a good hair care routine to keep a clean and well-balanced scalp microbiome. The key is to find a comfortable washing schedule that works best for you, your hair concerns and needs. Schedule a consultation with TrichoLab for a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to your specific scalp and hair condition today!