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Dry hair

Dry hair is hair that does not have enough moisture and oil to maintain its normal sheen and texture.

Causes

Some causes of dry hair are:

Home Care

At home you should:

  • Shampoo less frequently, perhaps only once or twice a week
  • Use gentle shampoos that are sulfate free
  • Add conditioners
  • Avoid blow drying and harsh styling products

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if:

  • Your hair does not improve with gentle treatment
  • You have hair loss or breaking hairs
  • You have any other unexplained symptoms

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

Your doctor will perform a physical examination and may ask the following questions:

  • Has your hair always been slightly dry?
  • When did the unusual hair dryness first start?
  • Is it always present, or is it off and on?
  • What are your eating habits?
  • What kind of shampoo do you use?
  • How often do you wash your hair?
  • Do you use a conditioner? What type?
  • How do you normally style your hair?
  • Do you use a hair dryer? What type? How often?
  • What other symptoms are also present?

Diagnostic tests that may be performed include:

  • Examination of the hair under a microscope
  • Blood tests
  • Scalp biopsy

Alternative Names

Hair - dry

References

Ball JW, Dains JE, Flynn JA, Solomon BS, Stewart RW. Skin, hair, and nails. In: Ball JW, Dains JE, Flynn JA, Solomon BS, Stewart RW, eds. Siedel's Guide to Physical Examination. 8th ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier Mosby; 2015:chap 8.

Marks JG, Miller JJ. Hair disorders. In: Marks JG, Miller JJ, eds. Lookingbill and Marks' Principles of Dermatology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:chap 20.

Review Date 10/31/2016

Updated by: Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.