How often do I need to shampoo my dad's hair?

2 answers | Last updated: Jun 14, 2012
A fellow caregiver asked...

Some people say I need to shampoo my dad's hair daily, others say weekly. What should I do?


Expert Answers

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

It's a confusing issue, because many of us shampoo our own hair daily and consider this the norm. In reality, there's no need to shampoo every day. What's more, daily shampooing can dry out the hair and scalp. Unless there's a medical reason to shampoo more often, weekly or even less is fine.

Shampoo your dad's hair when it looks, smells, or just seems dirty, or if he's scratching his scalp and appears uncomfortable. Shampooing less often may leave his hair looking oily after a couple of days, but this doesn't mean it's dirty. These natural oils are actually good for the scalp and hair. However, if your dad wants frequent shampoos and this makes him feel good, no problem. It's always a good idea to maintain his preferences. If he doesn't seem to care, then you can make a judgment call.

Combing his hair daily is a good idea, though. It will keep him looking neat, circulate the natural oils, and allow you to keep an eye on his hair's cleanliness.


Community Answers

Marly26 answered...

Have your fathers' hair washed in the same way he did when he was well. I am a Healthcare Aide and care for my FIL. I have Homecare come in twice a week to spend time with him so that I can get out, lay down whatever. He normally has his hair washed once a week however if he starts with "I think I'm catching a cold" which he isn't, he just doesn't want his hair washed. So be it. Either I wash his hair the next day or he will wait for his next hair wash day. He wets his hair each morning and combs it out. He has a healthy head of hair, yes it may look greasy at times but not that smelly dirty hair. As they age their pores' dont' sweat as in younger days. Sometimes' to much washing dries their hair out, just as their skin needs moisturizing. Their skin thins out as well. They get itchy, it irritates them, they cant' sleep and who is the one who gets told about it?? We wont' go there. As long as hes' happy and he is getting his hair washed, go with the flow. Dont' let it go past the 2 weeks, he really then does need it washed. Good Luck!!