What are the causes of the appearance of dandruff?


Dandruff is a very common scalp disorder that is caused by the shed off dead skin cells. Some symptoms of this problem can be treated with certain shampoos, but you won’t actually cure this issue. Dandruff is caused by oily skin (overproduction of seborrheic dermatitis), fungus called Malassezia yeast, and dry skin. When this yeast metabolizes with excessive sebum, it will produce oleic acid that will irritate your scalp and cause flaking. This rapid growth leads to the loss of cells that fall off, which gives the flaky and white look.

What Causes Dandruff?

Dandruff is a common, chronic skin condition characterized by flaky scalp. The common causes of dandruff include:

▪️Seborrheic Dermatitis: Seborrheic dermatitis is characterized by skin inflammation –  redness of the skin, covered with flakes or scales . This condition usually affects areas rich in oil glands, such as the scalp, face, and upper chest.

▪️ Malassezia: Malassezia is a yeast-like fungus that can cause infection and skin inflammation . This fungus feeds on the natural oils of your scalp and makes it dry and flaky, increasing the risk of dandruff.

▪️ Dry Scalp: A dry and dehydrated scalp that lacks moisture leads to inflammation, irritation, and itchiness. This condition causes flakiness that eventually becomes dandruff .Typically, these flakes are smaller and less oily than those caused by other factors.

Different Types of Dandruff.

The spectrum of seborrheic dermatitis ranges from dryness without redness with light flaking to redness, flaking, and itching. At its worst, thick raised plaques of silvery scale develop that is adherent to the scalp and its hair shafts, causing intense itching. At times, the pruritus (itch) is so intense that patients lose hair from the constant inflammation and scratching.

Seborrheic dermatitis can progress from the scalp down to the ears, eyebrows, around the nose, chin, “V of the neck,” armpits, and groin.

How To Get Rid Of Dandruff.

1. Wash Your Hair Regularly: The accumulation of excess oils, dirt, and dead skin cells on your scalp increases the risk of dandruff. Hence, you should wash your hair regularly to keep it clean and dandruff-free. However, do not use harsh shampoos that might dry out your scalp and worsen the condition.

2. Switch To Anti-Dandruff Shampoos: Switching from a regular to anti-dandruff shampoo is the easiest option to treat dandruff. Anti-dandruff shampoos contain salicylic acid, ketoconazole, zinc pyrithione, and selenium sulfide that work against flakiness.

3. Change Your Diet: Apoor diet that lacks essential vitamins and minerals can lead to dandruff. A study shows that foods rich in fat and sugar result in more instances of dandruff than a fruit diet. Thus, maintain a balanced diet that includes essential nutrients, proteins, and minerals to keep the hair and scalp healthy.

4. Exfoliate Your Scalp: Exfoliating your scalp can help remove dead skin cells and product buildup. Scalp exfoliators lock your scalp’s natural moisture, reduce dryness, and prevent the formation of flakes. You can also use a hot oil mask to balance the oil production of your scalp.

Best Essential Oils for Dandruff Control.

A variety of oils may help with dry flaking of the scalp, including something as simple as mineral oil. To treat a yeast infection, tea tree oil can be considered as it is antimicrobial and can decrease the yeast burden on the scalp.

For inflammation presenting as itching and redness, I prescribe a topical steroid oil that you would apply at bedtime under a shower cap and wash off in the morning.  This soothing oil can be effective at treating inflammation while also breaking up thick plaques and scales on the scalp.

How Long Does It Take to Get Rid of Dandruff?

When treating seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp, stay consistent with the prescribed topical medications (shampoos, topical steroids), and you can then expect improvement in the redness, itching, and flaking in 3–6 weeks of use.

Dandruff Flare-Ups During Winter.

It can be argued that seborrheic dermatitis and eczema are interconnected. Eczema worsens in the winter as the cold winter air pulls moisture from the skin to replace the lost water that is turned into condensation outside.

Also, indoor air is dehumidified when you turn your heater on all night while you sleep. These factors can dry out your scalp and can increase the flaking and scaling.

Can a Hot Bath Cause an Increase in Dandruff?

Malassezia yeast thrives in hot and humid environments and can cause a body rash that can discolor the skin called tinea versicolor.With this in mind, a prolonged hot shower can cause issues in a multi-factorial way:

▪️It may create a warm and moist environment that is conducive to Malassezia proliferation on your scalp.

▪️Hot water can cause damage to the epidermis and thus can worsen eczema.

▪️Heat can cause dilation of blood vessels and can increase redness and itch.

Can Stress Aggravate Dandruff?

Nearly all skin conditions worsen with stress, and dandruff is no exception. The mind and skin are closely connected, and when you are stressed with work, family issues, finances, and legal conflicts or you are grieving a death or an illness, dandruff, and seborrheic dermatitis tend to flare up. These conditions can even become resistant to treatment in such cases.

Hair Products That Can Worsen Dandruff.

Avoid harsh products that cause further irritation of the scalp.Allergic contact dermatitis of the scalp can present as a bright-red rash along the hairline that extends into the rest of the scalp. I have seen this in multiple cases that sometimes require oral steroids/prednisone.

Also, avoid products that cause any form of pain, stinging, burning, or increased redness. With eczema, the skin barrier is compromised and can thus be susceptible to bacteria and allergens/irritants that can worsen scalp dermatitis.

Reference :

Kushneet Kukreja , Ravi Teja Tadimalla (2017-11-15), “38 Simple Tips To Get Rid Of Dandruff Permanently”،

“10 Tips to Prevent and Treat Dandruff This Winter”,

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