Sunday, September 30, 2018

Hair smells, who knew?

I carpooled to book group the other night, and as we climbed in the car one of my friends said, "Do you smell that? Someone's cooking something nearby."

I didn't smell a thing, and said so. The matter dropped, but later I got to thinking.

Years ago, I used to carpool to choir rehearsal with a friend, a Filipino woman and neighbor. Every so often when she got in the car, I'd get a whiff of garlic and other not unpleasant aromas. The smell conjured in my mind the Filipino dish "pancit," one of my friend's specialties, which she made with onions and garlic and spam and soy and peppers and noodles. I used to devour this dish whenever she brought it to our choir potlucks. So when I smelled the garlic, I assumed she'd been cooking pancit again and her hair had absorbed the smell.

Just as my hair did that night of book group. For dinner I'd been making a chicken stir fry with similar ingredients to pancit -- chicken stock with garlic and onions and peppers and soy sauce. I remember the dish had been bubbling away on the stovetop and I'd leaned over it as I reached for a serving spoon. The thought had even occurred to me: My hair will probably smell from this, but oh well. And sure enough, it did.

It turns out hair odor comes in various forms. The most common one is when hair absorbs the smells wafting in the vicinity. According to The List,
Hair is made of protein and is porous and permeable, which means smells are easily absorbed. Some hair types are more susceptible than others. 
At this link, The List offers tips for getting the smell out of your hair.

But there's also a more serious issue involving hair odor, called Smelly Hair Syndrome (SHS) or Smelly Scalp Syndrome. According to Donovan Hair Clinic, there are many potential causes of SSS [SHS]. The most common causes include:
  • Seborrheic dermatitis 
  • Psoriasis
  • Fungal Infections
  • Allergic contact dermatitis 
  • Irritant contact dermatitis
  • Scarring Alopecias
  • Apocrine/Eccrine Gland Overactivity
  • Metabolic Disturbances
  • Infections
  • Skin Cancers
  • Hormonal disorders
  • Infrequent Washing
  • So now I'm wondering, should I let my book group friend know it was my hair she was smelling? Or did she figure it out, and is now embarrassed she brought it up? Oh, I know, I'll send her a link to this blog post.