Dandruff isn’t life-threatening, but it can be socially embarrassing to be seen with visible flakes on your hair and shoulders. But dandruff is actually a very common condition that affects around 20% of the population.
For many, it’s a minor cause for concern that can be removed after small changes to your hygiene habits. But for others, it could be more difficult to treat and can involve uncomfortable itching.
But what causes your dandruff? Here are five of the most common reasons.
Your Shampooing Habits
How you shampoo your hair and the type of shampoo you’re using could be causing your dandruff.
Your hair stays healthy because it receives oil called sebum from the sebaceous glands in your scalp. Sebum keeps your hair moisturized, but too much oil can make your hair greasy and dirty. Shampoo removes the excess oil as well as the dirt and debris trapped in your hair and scalp.
If you’re not shampooing enough or not shampooing your scalp properly, the dead skin cells on your scalp can accumulate and create dandruff flakes. It can also cause itching if your scalp gets irritated by the dead skin cells.
There’s been a debate on whether you should shampoo every day, once a week, or every few days. If you’re noticing dandruff, you might not be shampooing as often as you should. Try increasing your shampooing frequency to see if it solves your dandruff problem. Or, switch to a mild dandruff shampoo.
Other Skin Conditions
People with other skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema tend to get dandruff more frequently than others. This may be due to the fact that what is causing their skin condition is also affecting their scalp.
Malassezia is a form of yeast that live on your skin and is known to cause skin conditions like dandruff and eczema. If you have a yeast infection on your scalp, you probably have Malassezia feeding on the oils of your scalp to survive. This can irritate your scalp, cause itching, and lead your skin to produce more skin cells which can end up causing dandruff.
In this case, you have to see a dermatologist to determine if you have a fungal infection. This can be treated with topical or oral medicine. Most likely, you may be asked to use a ketoconazole shampoo until the problem resolves.
The weather may be a reason why you have dandruff. When exposed to air with low humidity (especially during the winter months), the moisture on your skin evaporates more quickly. This can cause your scalp to lose its moisture, crack, and create dandruff flakes.
Lack of Hair Brushing
Combing and brushing your hair removes tangles and helps brush away some of the excess debris on your skin, including dandruff. Brushing can help naturally shed away dead skin cells, reducing the risk of dandruff.
Dandruff is not necessarily a cause for concern and can be remedied without a visit to the doctor. But if you find that your dandruff is becoming excessive and difficult to treat at home, consult with a dermatologist to help determine the cause and a possible solution.