Dandruff: Causes and Effective Treatments for Flaky Hair

Are you tired of the pesky white-yellow flakes ruining your gorgeous hair? Say goodbye to dandruff and hello to healthy, shiny hair with our expert guide on dandruff causes and treatments.

Dandruff is a common non-contagious dermatological disorder that affects the scalp. It can be mild to severe, with symptoms ranging from white-yellow or gray, oily flakes and scales of medium to large sizes appearing on the hair and scalp to skin that is very itchy and even sore. You might even find those flakes and scales on your bedsheets!

While there are technical and specific names for dandruff depending on the cause of the skin condition, such as seborrheic dermatitis or pityriasis simplex capitis, they all share similar symptoms and treatments as many of the causes can coexist and aggravate your scalp condition.

But don’t worry, dandruff is not contagious, so you don’t have to worry about getting it from or transmitting it to others. However, it can look embarrassing and frustrating.

So, what exactly does dandruff look like? It appears as white, yellowish flakes on your scalp and hair. Your scalp can easily become irritated and inflamed, causing redness and itchiness. Excessive scratching can lead to hair thinning and hair loss, which is usually temporary.

You may confuse dandruff with a dry scalp as they both have similar symptoms like flaking and itchiness. However, a dry scalp is a condition where the scalp skin is not moisturized enough, and it is characterized by white, tiny, dry flakes. Dandruff is a scalp condition that presents large, white/yellowish, and usually greasy flakes. The scalp and hair tend to feel oily, and itchiness may still be present even when the scalp does not feel necessarily dry. Dandruff requires special active treatments and moisturizing for the best, long-term effects, whereas a dry scalp can be treated with adequate shampooing and subsequent moisturizing.

Now, what causes dandruff? Many factors can lead to developing dandruff, and they can coexist and/or amplify the symptoms. The three main factors are microbiome imbalance, individual predisposition, and skin barrier dysfunction.

We all have a range of microorganisms living on our skin that work together to maintain the skin barrier function to protect us. However, a disruption in this balance between the microbiota mixed with individual susceptibility can have dramatic effects on the skin and cause dandruff.

The Malassezia species is considered to be the most dominant fungal species, while Propionibacterium acnes and Staphylococcus epidermidis are the major bacterial colonizers on the scalp associated with dandruff. The Malassezia spp. growth depends on lipids like triglycerides, sterols, and phospholipids.

As it breaks down the sebum triglycerides, it uses the saturated fatty acids for its growth while the unsaturated fatty acids, especially oleic acid, damage the skin barrier function. As a consequence, the microorganism amount keeps increasing and accumulating in oil-rich areas while the cell membranes and extracellular networks of your skin are disrupted.

At the same time, the ratio between P. acnes and S. epidermidis is decreased in dandruff-affected scalp. Staphylococcus spp. has been observed to increase the scalp’s transepidermal water loss, itchiness, and cause a decrease in overall hydration.

Research shows how a severe/chronic barrier disruption impairs the protective feature of your skin and validates the factor of personal susceptibility. Your skin can get damaged by over-shampooing, combing, tight hairstyles,