Everyone’s scalp can get a little oily sometimes. But a little oil is OK! Oil (sebum) helps protect and support healthy hair.

But an abnormally oily scalp can feel like a problem if it makes your hair feel greasy or dirty all the time. And an oily scalp can also sometimes happen along with other symptoms that may be signs of a skin disorder.

Let’s get into what can cause an oily scalp and some of its accompanying symptoms, how to treat these causes at home, and what to do if none of your home remedies are working.

Here are some of the most common causes of an oily scalp.

Seborrheic dermatitis

Seborrheic dermatitis is a condition that irritates and inflames your skin. Pink, scaly areas of skin develop in areas with a lot of oil glands, including the scalp. It’s also known as dandruff.

It can result from an allergic reaction or be a symptom of an autoimmune condition. It’s not a serious condition. Home treatments can often treat or manage it.

Skin conditions

Skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis can cause red, scaly patches to appear on your scalp.

Both of these conditions are disorders related to immune dysfunction.

Forehead acne

Forehead acne develops when oil and skin cell substances get trapped inside the pores. It can also lead to specific acne bacteria to build up and cause acne bumps.

Excessive oil production is often the cause of acne.


Your genes may contribute to how much oil your glands produce and how thick your hair is.

Here are some of the possible causes of dry hair with an oily scalp:

Dandruff is likely the reason for an oily and itchy scalp.

Some causes of just an itchy scalp include:

  • flare-ups of skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis
  • allergic reactions to chemicals in hair products or other external triggers, including light sensitivity

Hair loss that happens alongside a noticeably oily scalp can result from:

  • genetics
  • aging
  • damage to hair follicles

There’s plenty you can do at home or buy at your local drugstore to help treat an oily scalp.

Keep in mind evidence for these home remedies is largely anecdotal. Your results may vary. These suggestions don’t replace conventional treatment therapies.

Fish oil

Limited data suggests that fish oil could be helpful to manage flare-ups of dandruff that can contribute to oily scalp skin.

It’s usually sold as an oral dietary supplement. Many people use fish oil for its potential benefits for the immune system and heart.

Aloe vera

Aloe vera is another natural remedy for dandruff that’s backed by older research. Its use may be derived from its potential to control inflammation that leads to flare-ups.


Probiotics are thought to be a good way to decrease inflammation throughout the body, which can help control dandruff flare-ups.

There’s not a ton of evidence that probiotics are specifically effective for an oily scalp, but there’s some. It’s worth talking to your doctor about whether they may benefit you.

Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil is an antiseptic that can help control bacterial and fungal buildups. These buildups can lead to acne or flare-ups of some scalp skin conditions.

Dilute tea tree oil with a carrier oil, such as coconut or olive oil, and put a few drops on the affected area.

Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is a well-loved anecdotal therapy, but it lacks sufficient evidence to support routinely in skin disorders.

Some say it’s an effective anti-inflammatory and can help reduce the pH balance of your hair. Both of these capabilities may help reduce oil production and stop flare-ups of skin conditions.

However, apple cider vinegar may further irritate your skin if you have eczema.

If you decide to try apple cider vinegar, put a few drops of it on your scalp after washing your hair. Leave it for a few minutes, then rinse well.

Here are some key ingredients used in effective shampoos for an oily scalp:

See a doctor if you’ve tried one or more home treatments with no success, or if you notice any new or worsening symptoms after starting your home treatment plan.

Your doctor may prescribe a prescription-strength shampoo or solution. Chronic conditions may require other medications.

For skin conditions or specific genetic disorders, see a dermatologist for treatment, such as fluocinonide, or medical advice on how to treat and manage your flare-ups. If you don’t already have a dermatologist, the Healthline FindCare tool can help you find a physician in your area.

An oily scalp isn’t necessarily a bad thing. A little oil’s good for your hair health.

Too much oil in your scalp can be a nuisance. Try some of these remedies or treatments if you want to reduce your oily sheen.