18 answers

8 Year Old Son Has "Smelly" Hair/scalp

My 8 year old son's hair smells bad! Does anyone else have this problem? It will smell nice only right after he washes it but by the end of the day- it stinks! I have been having him wash his hair everyday but I just want to make sure it is "normal" . Is it maybe oily scalp at this early of an age? I don't know if that would make it smell bad or not, I don't have oily scalp but I think his dad does (we are divorced). I do not have this problem with my other two kids, they can even go a few days without washing. Any advice?

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Hi, I am a mother of three. Ages, 14, 9, and 3. My oldest son was the same way at that age. I think it is pretty normal for some boys. By the time he was 11 it wasn't so bad anymore. In the mean time we kept his hair cut very short the help with the cleanliness. We also had him shower in the morning and at night.

Sometimes food intolerances come out in pores and it can smell bad. If it smells like regular sweat or dirt, then that's probably just what it is and you'll just have to keep it clean. If it smells just bad and you can't explain it and he's having some other weird symptoms, I'd consider looking into a possible food intolerance.

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My 8 year old daughter has the same thing. It started last year. I even took her to the doctor. They said some kids start with hormone changes this early. They checked her for hair growing in other places. Very weird. If any hair was found then they were going to run tests on her hormones. But that never happened. And so they just told me to use a dailey clarifying shampoo (sauve). And do not blow dry because heat makes it sweat more. Not like you would to your son. Just so you know... When summer came she had stinky pits. Aww!! Way to young. She only wears a light deoderant on very hot days. My other daughter could go a couple of days and her hair still smells like the shampoo. Every kid is different. Good luck!

Hi K.,
My son is 8 as well and we have the same problem. I have him take showers every other day to. I have been trying different shampoo , but having no luck. Hope you find an answer.

I have a book called Is This Your Child, By Dr. Dorris Rapp www.drrapp.com and it talks about food allergies/food intolerances. A smelly scalp often goes along with smelly feet, hands and dandruff, which is a sign of a yeast overgrowth, that means limit the yeast/sugar in his diet...I know, tell an 8yr old to limit their sugar intake, but sugar acts as a fertilizer for sugar, making people crave it more. A good dose of probiotics will do him good, espeically if he has had a lot of antibiotics in his past. You can try a modified low sugar diet, which is not so bad. Also try a shampoo that has tea tree oil or chammomile in it to help decrease the odor, but eventually will have to get rid of the yeast in the body. The book is good, and there is a great chapter on yeast overgrowth and how to combat it. Good luck!

Hi K.,

I used to be a hair dresser, and I can tell you that I encountered a LOT of kids, especially boys coming in for their hair cut and their scalp would smell so bad - and their mothers would be mortified about it. Most of the time, it is this way because the boys will used their bath water to rinse off their hair rather than using fresh water from the tap.

Also, some children perspire more than others - and it could be the glands are sweating a bit more than the other children's' are.

For my son, I noticed the same thing -and I had to make
SURE he wasn't using the bath water to rinse his hair - or it would end up smelling by the end of the day...

I hope this helps...

I would check with Doctor. Could be infection of some kind. It could be down in the scalp. What seems like oil maybe a discharge of some kind. Maybe an infection in the follicles.

When you get a urinary infection one of the symptoms is foul smelling urine.

Talk to your Doctor about your shampoo. I know my son has to have a purer shampoo the cheap shampoo usually have alcohol of some kind in them.

I would not mess around.

try arbonne's tea tree oil shampoo. i can send you a sample if you like. tea tree oil fixes everything and arbonne's products don't have phtalates, parabens, or any harsh carcinogenic chemical.

K., I am having the same problem with my son - but he is only 2 months old and barely has any hair yet, just "peach fuzz". My other two children (girl and boy) have never had this problem, so I was completely taken aback by it with this child of mine! His scalp has this terrible "dirty hair" smell, but obviously it's not from his poor hygiene or even his hair ... since he has none! His scalp doesn't feel or look oily either, so it has been very baffling to me. In his two short months of life so far, I have found that using a strawberry-scented conditioner helps keep the bad smell away for a little longer than if I only use baby shampoo. (I'm sure there are many other hair products that could similarly help ward off the smell for awhile.) Even so, the smell ultimately returns within a few hours after I bathe him.

My husband's scalp has a tendency to develop the same smell, as does my husband's brother, seemingly sooner than most people. For example, my other two kids and I could go for days without washing our hair (not that we'd want to!), and I swear it wouldn't smell, but by the end of a day, my husband's hair will smell bad, even though he showers every day. That has caused me to think that there must be some genetic aspect to the problem. I've been trying not to obsess over it, but the top of my little guy's head definitely smells bad almost all the time, so it's funny that you are posting this question that for me is very timely!!


My husband had oily hair and the more active he was, the worse the problem was. He showered every morning and whatever time he got home from work. Problem solved. Make sure the boy is doing a good job washing his hair. If he leaves it oily the problem will only get worse thru the day.

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