What Causes Dandruff?

Dandruff is a common scalp condition characterized by the flaking of dead skin cells from the scalp. While the exact cause of dandruff is not fully understood, several factors are believed to contribute to its development. Here are some potential causes:

  1. Seborrheic dermatitis: Seborrheic dermatitis is a common skin condition that can affect the scalp, causing dandruff. It is thought to be related to the overgrowth of a yeast-like fungus called Malassezia, which is naturally present on the scalp. The overgrowth of this fungus can lead to inflammation and excessive shedding of skin cells.
  2. Malassezia fungus: Malassezia, the yeast-like fungus mentioned earlier, is found on the scalp of most individuals. However, in some people, it can become overactive, leading to increased cell turnover and dandruff formation.
  3. Dry skin: Dry skin is a common cause of dandruff. When the scalp becomes excessively dry, it can result in flaking and shedding of dead skin cells, leading to dandruff.
  4. Sensitivity or allergy: Some individuals may have a sensitivity or allergic reaction to certain hair care products, such as shampoos, conditioners, or hair dyes. These reactions can cause scalp irritation, itching, and dandruff-like symptoms.
  5. Poor scalp hygiene: Inadequate scalp hygiene, such as infrequent shampooing or improper cleansing, can contribute to the accumulation of dead skin cells and oils on the scalp, leading to dandruff.
  6. Stress and hormonal factors: Although the link is not well understood, stress and hormonal imbalances may play a role in the development or worsening of dandruff in some individuals.

It’s important to note that dandruff is a common condition and is not contagious. In most cases, it can be managed with proper scalp hygiene and over-the-counter dandruff shampoos that contain ingredients like zinc pyrithione, ketoconazole, selenium sulfide, or coal tar. If self-care measures do not improve the condition or if dandruff is severe and accompanied by other symptoms, it is advisable to consult a dermatologist for further evaluation and treatment.