Why do we get dandruff?

hair dandruff

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In the cosmetic industry, every problem has a solution. Every acne (or even their scars) has a treatment, tan-removal and overall, treatments which enable people to look their best. Of this, the industry catering to the hair is one of the most profitable sects, bringing revenues in millions of rupees by solving everyday problems faced by people. The specifications of brands is a way to ensure a targeted approach for each hair problem – lack of volume, frizzy texture, dryness and all the others. One of the frontrunners from this industry is fixing the recurrent problem of DANDRUFF.

Various hair care brands have based their entire marketing strategy on the occurrence of dandruff. Each advertisement regarding these brands tend to highlight the various causes of dandruff. Firstly, dandruff is not contagious. While lice may be contagious, dandruff does not spread to people by contact. This is because it is not caused due to a pathogen but is rather because of the condition of the scalp of the people. Thus, it NONINFECTIOUS.

The symptoms of dandruff are easy to notice – itchy scalp and white, flaky particles near the scalps confirms the occurrence of dandruff. However, this ‘primary’ stage of dandruff is often the signs of a DRY SCALP. If a dry scalp is aggravated and the symptoms are noticed even after repeated oiling and moisturisation, the ruling is dandruff. This is a general confusion which will be addressed later.

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What causes dandruff?

The white flakes that are observed are DEAD SKIN CELLS. Skin cells have a lifespan as well and it is normal for them to die after a duration and get replaced by newer cells. If the cells accumulate in a place, they manifest as dandruff. If the accumulation is prevented, a person is deemed free of dandruff. It was mentioned that the death of an appropriate number of skin cells is normal, but it can escalate due to several reasons which will be traced below.

  1. Dryness

If a person experiences extreme dryness of the scalp, they are more susceptible to getting dandruff. Since the moisture content is low in the area, the skin cells will flake out and accumulated faster than in a normal scalp. Dryness may be due to the practices of the person or a disease such as ECZEMA. The condition tends to get worse in cold climates and dry seasons.

  1. Oily scalp

Too much grease in the hair causes dandruff which worsens the itching of the scalp and the redness of the skin. This condition arises due to lack of shampooing and/or a condition called SEBORRHEIC DERMATITIS. In this condition, the skin is made irritated and itchy due to the presence of a fungus Malassezia. Malassezia proliferates in the hair follicles by the feeding on the secretions. If the fungal load goes beyond a certain threshold, it irritates the scalp. The other symptoms come into play due to the overactive nature of the fungus

dandruff scalp

3. Irregular brushing

Brushing is a necessary step in caring for the hair since it smoothens the hair strands out, relieves their tension, removes tangles, and facilitates the normal shedding of the skin cells on the scalp. As the skin cells are shed, brushing also dislodges them from the scalp and essentially removes these from the hair, thus preventing accumulation of flakes. If brushing is irregular, the chances of the formation of the flakes dramatically increases.

4. Pollution

Pollution has been the cause of a variety of problems, including dandruff. Air pollution may cause entry of chemicals and other hazardous substances onto the scalp which can cause irritation and an exasperated loss of skin cells. If the hair is not cleaned with a cleansing shampoo regularly, the problem of dandruff may arise

dandruff products

5. Dietary restrictions

Just like all the parts of our body obtain nutrition from food, the health of the scalp and its cells is maintained in the same way. Dandruff is said to be caused due to the unavailability of zinc, fats, and vitamin B in their diet. Hence, supplementation of food with these molecules can help in the prevention of dandruff.

6. Stress

Stress is a factor that can uproot the general well-being of the body. It can also cause a drastic decrease in the response of the immune system. As it was mentioned before, the overgrowth of Malassezia increases dandruff – but the immune system keeps the growth in check. If stress causes a compromise in the immune system, the growth of Malassezia will go unchecked.

7. Hormones

Some scientists have linked the impact of age-related hormones to the occurrence of dandruff. Most prominently, the hormonal levels observed during the middle age may contribute to it. It has also been noticed that men have a higher occurrence of dandruff than women – another instance which can be attributed to hormones.


Is there any difference between the manifestation of dry scalp and dandruff?

Dry scalp and dandruff are often misdiagnosed and used as alternatives – however, this is incorrect. The occurrence of dandruff is a more severe issue than having a dry scalp. Dandruff is a result of the proliferation of Malassezia, while dry scalp is solely due to the dryness of the scalp. Both are used interchangeably because they occur as flakes.

There is a significant difference in the appearance of the flakes formed. In case of dandruff, the flakes formed have an oily texture while the flakes observed in dry scalp are smaller and powder-like in texture. Itchiness, redness, and scaly skin is only observed in the case of dandruff and not for a dry scalp. Lastly, if there can be dryness of the scalp (which is also made up of skin cells), dryness will also be observed in the other parts of the body. In such a case, HYDRATION, and supplementation of moisture to the dry parts is crucial to restore it to the normal state.

Yet, it is unwise to leave dry scalp as the way it is. It is necessary to take steps to avoid the signs of a dry scalp as it can pave a way to dandruff as well. Our body is delicately linked to the parts and while it is very resilient, a small change can incur a cascade of events which can result in flaws.

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