Dandruff… dry, white flakes in head and beard! How to get rid of it?

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Dandruff affects millions of men and women globally, causing social embarrassment and self-esteem problems. And males face dandruff more than females.

Excessive flaking or shedding of skin cells from the scalp is called dandruff or scurf or seborrhea and medically termed as pityriasis capitis dandruff.

Dandruff is a noninflammatory and harmless skin condition in which the shedding of cells occurs at an abnormally faster rate. It is often associated with dry or oily skin. It mainly affects the scalp and minds of its skin condition, not hairs.

Presence of oil results in clumping up of flakes to form plaques. Flakes of dandruff are visible and they drop on the shoulder, eyebrows, and clothes as a person com or brushes their hair.  

Simple dandruff is harmless to the body, whereas the more severe inflammatory form of this is called seborrheic dermatitis can be bad.

Signs and Symptoms of dandruff:

Flaking or scaling with or without itchiness over the scalp is a common sign. This can develop in low social or self-esteem.

This can also involve eyebrows and even beard, and chest hair and can causes rashes over the skin. Signs and symptoms are;

  • Itchy scalp
  • Flakiness
  • Red dry or greasy patches 
  • Irritation 
  • Fell tingling 
  • Symptoms worsen in wither than summer.

Actual cause and mechanism:

Skin cell that’s grown too fast and die off too fast and shed as flakes, this is the actual mechanism which forms the dandruff flakes. This is as fast as 2-7 days in people with dandruff and normally, this skin cell turns over should be around 30 days in normal people. It is still unknown, why, and how exactly this happens.  

The Fungus theory suggested as the best-understood hypothesis for dandruff.

Fungus theory:

A fungus called Malassezia is considered to cause dandruff. This fungus normally lives on the scalp of most healthy adults without causing any problem. The theory says that “the people with the low immune system and dandruff may overreact to that fungus and resulting in too fast turn over of skin cells resulting in flaking.

Why this affects the scalp, eyebrows, and beard?

Scalp dandruff:

According to one study, dandruff happens in association with oil medically called as sebum, that’s secreted by sebaceous glands around the hair follicle and fungus Malassezia is attracted to this oil or sebum and metabolizes the triglycerides or fats in this oil and evokes an inflammatory response in susceptible people.

Image by Freepik

Eyebrow and beard dandruff:

Seborrheic dermatitis may be the cause of eyebrow dandruff, with symptoms like yellowish- greasy scales, patches on top od red, and irritated skin. Eyebrow dandruff can be caused by the overgrowth of yeast name Pityrosprum oval, which mainly affects oily skin like ears, eyebrow, side of the nose, scalp, and beard (if long).

What factors are would be responsible for dandruff?

Dandruff is not about your hair or how often you wash it. It is a skin disease. Instead, it is about the skin of the scalp and face. Many factors are responsible for dandruff;

  • Genetic factors: If any concept remains unknown or unclear, we always blame this on our genes and that’s true most of the time.
  • Stress: It is another factor that can aggravate dandruff. Stress impairs the immune system and can be one of the causes of dandruff or provoking flare-ups. Also, the itching may become more severe if its due to chronic stress.
  • Not shampooing frequently:  Frequent washing or washing or shampooing can strip hairs of necessary oils. But oils are being utilized by the organisms to create those dandruff flakes.
  • Diet: Certain foods may flare-up dandruff, like high saturated and trans fats, which can cause sebaceous glands to produce more oil, which makes dandruff worse.
  • Overuse of hair styling products: like certain oils and styling gels can worsen dandruff.
  • Seasons: Dandruff may fluctuate with seasons and often worsens in the winter season.
  • Medical conditions: As Parkinson’s disease, HIV, heart attack, or stock are conditions that more prone to dandruff, because of low immunity and high stress. 
  • Skin conditions:  Tinea capitis is a fungal infection, which is also known as scalp ringworm, and psoriasis, eczema is some skin condition that can cause dandruff. 

Dry scalp Vs Dandruff:

Dry scalp and dandruff, both may have many same symptoms, but they are two contrasting conditions.

  • Dandruff flakes are bigger and look oily. At the same time, the dry scalp is small and dry in feel.
  • Dandruff has the symptoms of oily, red, and scaly skin, but dry scalp just has scaly skin.
  • Dry scalp irritated the skin and flakes off, while dandruff causes too much oil on the scalp.
  • Both can make the scalp itch.

Lice Vs Dandruff:

lice are easy to confuse with dandruff and both are common problems.

  • Lice are parasitic conditions, while dandruff may be the yeast condition.
  • Lice can spread to people, but dandruff is not contagious.
  • Dandruff has itching and tingling sensation, while lice or nits may feel a crawling sensation.
  • Lice eggs and dandruff have similar in looks, but close inspection reveals the difference. 
  • Lice can cause a bacterial infection in the blood, but dandruff doesn’t.  

Anti-dandruff ingredients to look out for:

Most of the anti-dandruff or anti-fungal shampoos contain one of these active ingredients;

  • Ketoconazole: It is used to make a medicated shampoo to treat fungal infection, also an OTC ingredient.  
  • Selenium sulfide: It is a chemical agent used to treat dandruff, seborrhea, Tinea Versicolor, and other fungal infections of the skin.
  • Zinc pyrithione: It is the best anti-dandruff ingredient to treat seborrhoeic dermatitis.
  • Coal tar: Coal tar used to treat dandruff, scaly, itchy skin conditions. It works by slow down the growth of skin cells and causes the skin dead cells to shed off.  
  • Salicylic Acid: This ingredient found in all over-the-counter (OTC) dandruff shampoo, helps to clean flakes and also to moisturize a dry scalp. 
  • Tea tree oil: It has anti-fungal properties, which helps to treat skin problems like dandruff, dry scalp, rashes.

Home remedies to get rid of dandruff:

Many natural home remedies can work as OTC products, they are;

  • Tea tree oil: Massage with tea tree oil or add 5-10 drops of tea tree oil in a current shampoo bottle, helps to reduce itchiness, steadiness, and dandruff.
  • Coconut oil: It has multi health benefits and helps to improve skin hydration, dryness, and worsen dandruff. 
  • Aloe Vera: It helps to improve all skin types of skin diseases like burning, psoriasis, and cold sores. It also protects against dandruff and also gives a shiny touch to hairs.
  • Minimize stress: High-level stress and long term may suppress the immune system. The lower the street, the higher the immune system. 
  • Daily use of Apple Cider Vinegar: It helps to maintain the pH of the skin and reduce the growth of fungus and fight with dandruff.
  • Aspirin: Aspirin contains anti-inflammatory salicylic acid. Aspirin able to decrease dandruff and also reducing the eff of scaling.
  • Intake of Omega-3s: Omega-3s helps to manage oil production, hydration of skin, promote wound healing, and prevent premature aging. Fatty fish is one of the great sources of Omega-3s.


Dandruff is a common condition that mostly affects men than women. The exact cause of dandruff is unknown, but it is not related to poor hygiene. Dandruff can be treated at home by a simple massage with tea tree oil, coconut oil, aloe vera, apple cider vinegar, and also overcome by the use of OTC dandruff shampoo.