Dandruff: Understanding the Causes and Effective Treatments

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Dandruff: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment


Dandruff is a common skin condition that affects the scalp. It is characterized by white or yellow flakes of skin that fall from the scalp. Dandruff can be caused by a variety of factors, including overgrowth of a fungus called Malassezia, dry skin, and sensitivity to hair products. While dandruff is not a serious medical condition, it can be embarrassing and difficult to treat.


The exact cause of dandruff is unknown, but it is thought to be caused by a combination of factors. These include:

  • Overgrowth of Malassezia: Malassezia is a fungus that lives on the scalp of most people. In some people, however, Malassezia can overgrow and cause dandruff.
  • Dry skin: Dry skin can also cause dandruff. When the skin is dry, it can become flaky and peel off.
  • Sensitivity to hair products: Some people are sensitive to certain ingredients in hair products, such as sulfates, parabens, and fragrances. These ingredients can irritate the scalp and cause dandruff.
  • Other medical conditions: Dandruff can also be a symptom of other medical conditions, such as seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis, and eczema.


The most common symptom of dandruff is white or yellow flakes of skin that fall from the scalp. Other symptoms of dandruff may include:

  • Itching: Dandruff can cause the scalp to itch.
  • Redness: Dandruff can cause the scalp to become red and inflamed.
  • Scaling: Dandruff can cause the scalp to become scaly.


There are a number of different treatments for dandruff. The best treatment for you will depend on the severity of your dandruff and the underlying cause.

  • Over-the-counter shampoos: There are a number of over-the-counter shampoos that are effective in treating dandruff. These shampoos contain ingredients that help to kill Malassezia and reduce inflammation.
  • Prescription shampoos: If over-the-counter shampoos do not work, your doctor may prescribe a prescription shampoo. Prescription shampoos contain stronger ingredients that can be more effective in treating dandruff.
  • Other treatments: Other treatments for dandruff include topical creams and lotions, oral medications, and light therapy.


There are a number of things you can do to prevent dandruff, including:

  • Wash your hair regularly: Washing your hair regularly helps to remove Malassezia and other irritants from the scalp.
  • Use a gentle shampoo: Harsh shampoos can irritate the scalp and make dandruff worse. Use a gentle shampoo that is designed for people with dandruff.
  • Avoid scratching your scalp: Scratching your scalp can irritate it and make dandruff worse. Try to avoid scratching your scalp, even if it itches.
  • Use a humidifier: A humidifier can help to keep the air moist, which can help to reduce dry skin and dandruff.
  • Eat a healthy diet: Eating a healthy diet can help to keep your scalp healthy and free of dandruff. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.


Dandruff is a common skin condition that can be embarrassing and difficult to treat. However, there are a number of different treatments available that can help to control dandruff and keep your scalp healthy. If you have dandruff, talk to your doctor about the best treatment for you.

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