What Causes Dandruff?

Most people know what dandruff is – it’s that flaky stuff falling on the collar of your dark colored shirt. But, fewer people know why dandruff occurs, and how best to treat this condition. Learning more about dandruff can give you an edge on handling an outbreak, when it’s critical to rein in this skin condition to avoid mountains of flakes on your favorite clothes.

For most dandruff sufferers, it’s not as simple as buying a bottle of common dry scalp shampoo. A look into the complexity of dandruff as a skin condition will reveal that most cases need a more sophisticated cure.

Renewal of Skin Cells

Your skin is constantly in a process of shedding and regeneration. Dead skin cells flake off, to be replaced with fresh, new ones. In dandruff, the flaking skin just becomes more visible and excessive. Some conditions can cause normal skin regeneration to turn into dandruff, or “scurf,” where various kinds of dandruff are also called by scientific names like seborrheic dermatitis.

Seborrheic Dermatitis

This condition is a specific kind of dandruff that is more extreme than some other varieties. With seborrheic dermatitis, larger flakes remove themselves from the scalp. This can also spread to other areas of the body.


Another condition known as psoriasis can affect the joints and other areas of the body. It’s a similar situation where skin starts to flake, but with psoriasis, it also becomes scaly. Psoriasis can lead to related conditions, like a specific kind of psoriatic arthritis, over time.

Fungal Infections

Some kinds of fungal conditions can also cause types of dandruff on the scalp. These can be associated with inflammation, soreness or itchiness on the scalp. A specific kind called malassezia is one of the usual suspects that doctors look for in chronic dandruff cases.

Other Causes

In addition to the above, some kinds of dandruff can be caused by exposure to extreme temperatures. Some doctors also claim that dandruff can relate to a specific kind of diet. In other cases, an infestation of head lice can cause dandruff. People with oily skin are sometimes at a higher risk of developing a dandruff condition. Improper hair care can also cause or exacerbate dandruff conditions.

Treating Dandruff

In most cases, dandruff is not just a condition of dry scalp. It can require specific shampoos and other treatments on a frequent basis. Some of these contain natural elements like tea tree oil that can relieve dandruff related conditions like itching. Brushing hair more frequently may also help with some kinds of dandruff.

When it comes to skin conditions like dandruff, every person’s situation is different. It may take a while to find the right “cure,” but with dedication and knowledge about the science of this dermatological issue, patients can have a better chance of beating a chronic case of dandruff that can cause embarrassment and image problems. Talk to qualified dermatologists about the latest and greatest remedies for diagnosing and treating different kinds of dandruff, and explore all of the options open to you.

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