Lesser Known Reasons For Dandruff That We Bet You Didn’t Know About

Reviewed by Dr. Chytra V Anand

MBBS, MSc - Clinical Dermatology

Written by Urvi DalalSep 16, 2023
Lesser known reasons for dandruff that we bet you didn’t know about

If there is one scalp condition that affects most people at least once in their lifetime, then it has to be dandruff. Although this is a fairly harmless scalp condition, there is no doubt about the fact that it can be extremely annoying. I mean, no one likes noticing white flakes of dead skin stuck onto their hair, clothes and pillows, right?

But what if we told you that it is really possible to eliminate dandruff easily, with just a little a time and effort. By simple hair care and lifestyle changes, it is really possible to get rid of dandruff and make your hair appear healthy, smooth and shiny!

And to help you understand this better, we spoke to Dr. Chytra Anand to help you understand the reasons for dandruff and eliminate it in an effective way. Excited? Read on to find out everything you need to know…


1. Reasons for dandruff

FAQs about the reasons for dandruff


- Seborrheic dermatitis

FAQs about the reasons for dandruff

This is a common symptom of a skin condition called seborrheic dermatitis, which can cause dandruff. Dr. Chytra explains, “People with seborrheic dermatitis will notice a flaky scalp which has an oily texture to it. They will also have oily skin and it can affect not just the scalp but also the eyebrow areas and the sides of the nose.” This condition can also lead to a patch of red, oily skin which is covered in white or yellow scales.


- Extremely dry skin

FAQs about the reasons for dandruff

If you have extremely dry skin or conditions such as eczema or psoriasis, then that could be a reason for dandruff. Just like the skin on the rest of your body becomes extremely dry and flaky with eczema, the same can happen to your scalp as well, leading to dandruff. This type of dandruff is fairly more common during the winters and becomes better in warmer weather.


- Dirty scalp

FAQs about the reasons for dandruff

Are you someone who has difficulty remembering the last time you washed your hair? Well, if you also have dandruff problems, then it is an indication that you need to wash your hair more often. Dirt, oil, pollution, sweat and other impurities settle on our scalp every day, and build up over time. These tend to flake and lead to dandruff. To avoid this issue, wash your hair regularly with a sulphate-free shampoo to keep it clean and healthy.


- Over-washing

FAQs about the reasons for dandruff

The harsh chemicals in shampoos and the minerals in water strip your hair and scalp of their natural oils, making the scalp dry and flaky. This is a major cause of dandruff over time. To avoid this issue, it is important to wash your hair once every two to three days to avoid both over and under-washing.


- Hair care ingredients

FAQs about the reasons for dandruff

If you are suffering from dandruff, then it would be wise to look at the ingredients of your hair care products. Dr. Chytra says, “Over shampooing or not shampooing enough both can lead to accumulation of clamped up dead skin cells on the scalp leading to dandruff. Sulphate sensitivity can lead to increased dandruff by using certain shampoos and hair care products.” Alternatively, you could also have a sensitive scalp and be allergic to certain ingredients, thereby causing dandruff. Therefore, do a little research or speak to your dermat about this before choosing on hair care products.


- An unbalanced diet

FAQs about the reasons for dandruff

Diet plays a very important role in the health of your skin and hair, and dandruff is no different. An unhealthy, oily and spicy diet could lead to excessive sebum production, which in turn leads to dandruff. Or having a diet which is low in healthy fats could dry out the scalp and cause dandruff. Therefore, it is advisable to maintain a healthy, nutritious and balanced diet to not just avoid dandruff, but also to have beautiful hair.


- Stress

FAQs about the reasons for dandruff

Stress or trauma is often observed to be a reason for dandruff in a lot of people. Dr. Chytra explains, “In recent studies, there has been a direct correlation between mental stress and dandruff increase on the scalp. This is because when there is stress there is a change in the hormone balance in the body which leads to decreased immunity.” Stress is also known to provide the perfect breeding ground to thrive for microbe Malassezia, which is also present on the scalp, leading to dandruff. Indulge in stress-relieving activities at least one day to feel calmer and feel more rested.


2. Symptoms of dandruff

FAQs about the reasons for dandruff

One of the most common, harmless health problems faced by one and all is dandruff. So we are sure the symptoms of dandruff are fairly easy to catch -

i) Flakes –

This is the most common symptom of dandruff and it is also the simplest to recognise. These white flakes are tiny pieces of dead skin cells found stuck to your hair strands, and sometimes on your t-shirt. If the flakes are whiter in colour, then it means that the cause of dandruff is a dry scalp. But if the flakes appear to be slightly more sticky and yellow in colour, then the cause is an oily scalp.

ii) Itchy scalp –

The itchy, irritated and inflamed scalp is another symptom of dandruff. Excessive dryness or oiliness can irritate the scalp, leading to inflammation, redness and itchiness. If you feel like your scalp is itchier than usual, immediately check for dandruff, as it is considered to be a precursor for the appearance of those telltale flakes. It can be prevented with the right anti-dandruff products.

iii) Dry scalp –

If the skin on your scalp feels particularly tight or stretchy, then it could be because of dandruff. This is because dandruff can affect the natural moisture levels of your scalp, making your scalp feel really parched and flaky.


3. Simple tips to get rid of dandruff

FAQs about the reasons for dandruff

i) Scalp exfoliation –

One of the simplest ways to get rid of dandruff as well as prevent it is to exfoliate your scalp using a scalp scrub. It helps to reduce product and dead skin build-up, thereby eliminating dandruff.

ii) Anti-dandruff shampoos –

If your dandruff condition isn’t very severe, then simply get yourself an over-the-counter anti-dandruff shampoo and use it once or twice a week to wash away the flaky skin and eliminate dandruff.

iii) Check your diet –

In order to get rid of dandruff, it is important to consume a low-carb diet and avoid extremely spicy, fried and sugary foods. Stick to having a protein, fibre, and nutrient-rich diet for an all-over improvement in your hair and scalp.

iv) Massage your scalp –

The main reason for build-up on your scalp is lowered blood circulation. Therefore, give your scalp a quick five-minute massage at least twice a day. Additionally, when applying hair oil or shampooing, ensure you massage it thoroughly onto your scalp to allow the ingredients to sink into your skin and show results.

v) Avoid scratching –

Dandruff can be an extremely annoying situation, mainly because it brings with it a lot of itchiness. But we advise you to resist the urge to scratch because it can aggravate the inflammation and cause further irritation. Keep your nails short and should you feel extremely itchy, gently massage the area with your fingertips to soothe and calm the skin.


4. Dr. Chytra’s expert tips that one can follow every day to prevent dandruff

FAQs about the reasons for dandruff

  • Manage daily stress triggers with meditation or other stress relieving activity.
  • Take zinc and vitamin supplements.
  • If you have an oily scalp, use a mild shampoo and wash your hair often.
  • Brush your hair with a comb regularly as this will exfoliate the scalp and prevent a build-up.
  • Lessen the amount of hair exposure to direct sunlight as it can worsen oily scalp.
  • Indulge in a warm oil treatment for dry scalp.


5. FAQs about the reasons for dandruff

FAQs about the reasons for dandruff

Q. When should one see a doctor for dandruff?

A. Dr. Chytra explains, “You should consult a doctor when you have used an antidandruff shampoo for about two weeks and don’t see a difference, or if there is a nasty smell to dandruff or if it’s highly itchy, irritated or red looking.

“People will experience dandruff at some point in their life and this will usually settle within two to four weeks. If dandruff does not settle in this much time, then it is best to consult a scalp doctor to get advice and medicated shampoos. This will help control dandruff and prevent it from worsening”, she adds.

Q. What are some common dandruff treatments that one should consider?

A. In order to treat dandruff successfully, you need to consider some treatments as well. Dr. Chytra says that while it is completely safe to use over-the-counter anti-dandruff shampoos initially, then you need to speak to your doctor and use a medicated one. She further explains, “READ the ingredients on your shampoo bottle to understand which is more suitable for your scalp based on dry skin or oily scalp or irritated scalp. Here are some of the best ingredients –

  • Ketoconazole: Antifungal shampoo
  • Selenium Sulphide: For oily scalp
  • Coal tar: For scalp that is highly irritated, or has psoriasis. Not for coloured hair
  • Zinc pyrithione: For yeast infection-prone
  • Tea tree: Antiseptic; suitable for regular use, long term use makes the scalp drier
  • Salicylic acid: For exfoliating clumped up the scalp. Not for dry scalp and should be used just once a week.
  • Neem: Antiseptic. Can be used regularly

Q. Does dandruff cause hair loss?

A. Dandruff isn’t a direct cause of dandruff, but it could indirectly be responsible. This is because when you scratch your hair, you could be damaging the follicles on your scalp, thereby weakening the strand and leading to hair loss.

Urvi Dalal

Written by

Writer, avid reader and hardcore beauty enthusiast is the best way to describe Urvi Dalal. With over 5 years of writing experience in the beauty industry, you can trust her to have the latest skin, hair and makeup tidbits on her fingertips. In her time working as a beauty writer, she has had the opportunity to interact and work closely with a string of dermatologists, makeup artists and hairstylists. All that knowledge exchange, coupled with her flair and love for writing make it possible for her to bring you some authentic yet fun beauty content. When Urvi isn’t working, you’d usually catch her curled up with a big, fat book, drinking a cup of tea or practising her makeup skills; there is no in-between!


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