Dry hair is hair that does not have enough moisture and oil to maintain its normal sheen and texture.
Some causes of dry hair are:
- Excessive hair washing, or using harsh soaps or alcohols
- Excessive blow-drying
- Dry air due to the climate
- Underactive parathyroid (hypoparathyroidism)
- Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)
- Other hormone abnormalities
- Menkes kinky hair syndrome
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
Hair - dry
American Academy of Dermatology website. Tips for healthy hair. www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/hair-scalp-care/hair/healthy-hair-tips. Accessed March 01, 2021.
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. Seidel's Guide to Physical Examination. 9th ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier; 2019:chap 9.
Dinulos JGH. Hair diseases. In: Dinulos JGH, ed. Habif's Clinical Dermatology. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 24.
Review Date 11/4/2020
Updated by: Elika Hoss, MD, Senior Associate Consultant, Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, AZ. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.