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Oily Skin And Oily Hair

Definition

People with oily skin and hair develop an oily sheen to their skin or hair, sometimes within minutes of washing.

What is going on in the body?

Androgens, or male hormones, control the production of oil by the sebaceous glands in the skin. Higher relative levels of androgens can make the skin more oily. For example, this can occur during puberty and when taking performance-enhancing steroids.
Some people have oilier skin because they have larger numbers of oil glands that produce more oil. There is also considerable normal variation from person to person within the general population.

Risks

What are the causes and risks of the symptom?

Oily skin and hair are caused by an excess of androgens. The amount of oil in a person's hair and skin varies, depending on:
  • time of year
  • sun and wind
  • temperature and humidity. Skin looks the oiliest in hot, humid weather.

Prevention

What can be done to prevent the symptom?

Many times, oily skin and hair cannot be prevented. The condition is often part of puberty and goes away when the person becomes an adult and hormone levels change.
Recommended ways to reduce the amount of oil on the skin and hair include the following:
  • shampoo hair daily
  • avoid vigorous or overly frequent hairbrushing
  • wash the face several times a day with a mild soap or cleanser and water, then pat dry with a towel
  • use premoistened disposable cleansing pads to wipe excess oil from the face when away from home
  • consider using absorbent disposable paper that soaks up excess oil
  • minimize makeup whenever possible
  • use only oil free, noncomedogenic makeup and skin care products
  • avoid oil-based makeup such as creams
  • remove all makeup before going to bed

Diagnosed

How is the symptom diagnosed?

A person can generally diagnose oily skin and hair by its appearance.

Long Term Effects

What are the long-term effects of the symptom?

There are no serious long-term effects, although oily skin may be associated with acne.

Other Risks

What are the risks to others?

Oily skin and hair are not contagious and pose no risk to others.

Treatments

What are the treatments for the symptom?

Oily skin and hair are treated with the same measures that are used for prevention.

Side Effects

What are the side effects of the treatments?

Irritation or excessive dryness of the skin from overly aggressive cleansing or treatment.

After Treatment

What happens after treatment for the symptom?

For many people who are affected, stopping an effective treatment causes the symptoms to return. Others, such as adolescents, may outgrow the condition. Treatment is not required and can be stopped at any time. Affected people are free to engage in normal activities before, during, and after treatment.

Monitor

How is the symptom monitored?

Affected people can monitor their skin and hair to assess whether or not treatment is working. A healthcare professional can also monitor the appearance of the hair and skin if treatment is prescribed.

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