Health Check

What causes dandruff?

Dandruff is more common than you think - around half the population will have it at some stage.

Written by Bonnie Palmer
Woman scratching her head

Humans are shedding skin all the time. Dandruff describes a reaction that can happen when you’re shedding the skin on your scalp.

What causes dandruff?

When cells are shed one at a time it will most likely go undetected. It’s when inflammation causes cells to stick together and large clumps are shed as one that dandruff occurs.

So what causes this inflammation? Some experts point to an abnormal immune response to a fungal microbe called Malassezia. Everyone has the microbe on their skin, it’s just our immune system’s response that can differ.

What are the typical symptoms of dandruff?

The most common symptom of dandruff is an itchy scalp. Of course the temptation is to scratch and this can lead to flakes appearing in the hair, or even sores.

Can you treat dandruff at home?

In terms of treating dandruff, there are many over-the-counter shampoos that help to treat dandruff. How often you use the shampoo will depend on how severe your dandruff is and the strength of the shampoo. Always read the directions on the pack, but sometimes it might just take a little experimenting to find the right frequency for you

When in doubt, talk to your GP

If you feel like you’re struggling to control your dandruff and it’s causing anxiety or embarrassment have a chat to your GP. They’ll be able to give you some advice and might refer you to a dermatologist who specialises in this area.

Find out more about what causes other common health conditions like acne, muscle cramps and migraines.

Written by Bonnie Palmer

My passions in life are writing, raising awareness for cancer research, exercising, spending time with my amazing friends and drinking good wine (the last two usually go together).

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