Dandruff Causes & Treatments
It’s grandma here, ready to talk to you about something that may not be so glamorous, but is definitely important – Dandruff! You can get that nasty stuff on your scalp, in your beard and even in your eyebrows.
Let me tell you, my loves, dandruff is something that affects many people and can be a real pain in the tush. So, let’s dive in and talk about why people get dandruff and how to get rid of it.
Dandruff vs. Dry Scalp – There’s a big difference!
Dandruff and dry scalp are two common scalp conditions that are often confused with each other. While they may share some similar symptoms, such as flaking and itching, there are distinct differences between the two that requires different treatments.
Dry scalp is characterized by dryness and tightness in the scalp, which can lead to flaking. It occurs when the scalp is not producing enough natural oils, leading to dryness and irritation. The flakes associated with dry scalp tend to be smaller and less oily than dandruff flakes. Dry scalp can be caused by a variety of factors, including harsh shampoos, cold weather, and dehydration.
Dandruff, on the other hand, is caused by an overgrowth of a yeast-like fungus called Malassezia, which feeds on the oil produced by the scalp. This overgrowth can cause inflammation and excessive shedding of dead skin cells, leading to visible flakes on the scalp and in the hair. Dandruff flakes tend to be larger and more oily than those associated with dry scalp.
Another key difference between dandruff and dry scalp is the level of itching. While both conditions can cause itching, dandruff is typically accompanied by more intense itching and redness.
For dry scalp, shampooing less often with a moisturizing shampoo and avoiding harsh chemicals can help alleviate symptoms. For dandruff, using a medicated shampoo containing ingredients such as zinc pyrithione or ketoconazole can help control the fungal overgrowth and reduce flaking.
Why Do People Get Dandruff?
Well, there’s no one answer to this question, as there are many different factors that can contribute to the development of dandruff. However, here are some common reasons why you may be experiencing what looks like grated parmesan cheese raining down onto your black shirt.
- Oily Scalp – Having an overly oily scalp can lead to dandruff. When there is too much oil on the scalp, it can create a breeding ground for yeast. Some people naturally produce a lot more oil than others.
- Not Washing Your Hair Enough – Believe it or not, not washing your hair enough can actually lead to dandruff. When you don’t wash your hair often enough, oil, dirt, and dead skin cells can build up on the scalp.
- Stress – Yup, you read that right! When you’re under a lot of stress, your immune system is effected, and your body tends to produce more oil.
- Genetics – Your personal body chemistry has a lot to do with whether you’re prone to dandruff, including how much oil your scalp produces along with your body’s microbiome.
- A Poor Diet – A diet high in sugar and processed foods can promote the growth of yeast on the scalp as well as other parts of the body.
- Dry Scalp – This is probably the most common reason for itchy scalp and white flakes, however, it’s technically not dandruff but more of a hydration problem. When the scalp becomes too dry, it can cause the skin to flake and shed, resulting in those lovely white flakes we all know and love.
Can a Bad Diet Contribute to Dandruff?
Yes, a diet lacking in certain nutrients can weaken the immune system, making it more susceptible to fungal infections. Additionally, a diet high in sugar, white flour and processed foods can promote the growth of yeast on the scalp.
Here are some nutrients that may help prevent dandruff:
- Omega-3 fatty acids: Found in fatty fish, nuts, and seeds, omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce inflammation and improve scalp health.
- Zinc: Found in shellfish, nuts, and whole grains, zinc is important for immune function and may help prevent fungal infections on the scalp.
- B vitamins: Found in whole grains, nuts, and leafy greens, B vitamins are important for skin and scalp health.
- Vitamin D: Found in fatty fish and fortified foods, vitamin D is important for immune function and may help prevent fungal infections on the scalp.
- Antioxidants: Found in fruits and vegetables, antioxidants can help reduce inflammation and improve overall scalp health.
Eat lots of fatty fish or take an Omega-3 supplement, and avoid sugar which is the biggest culprit of yeast growth.
Do Genetics Play a Role?
Dandruff can definitely be influenced by genetics and our personal body chemistry, but it is not solely your mom and dad’s fault. The exact cause of dandruff is not fully understood, but it is believed to be a combination of factors such as a yeast-like fungus called Malassezia that is found on the scalp, individual susceptibility to irritation or inflammation of the skin and scalp, and the amount of sebum or natural oils produced by the scalp.