Dandruff is the skin’s overreaction to a common fungus on the scalp, and it is not contagious, hereditary, or due to poor hygiene or weather.
Our scalp skin has an innocuous fungus named Malassezia globosa. It lives there in a symbiotic relationship with us—our skin oil is food for it, and in turn, it prevents other pathogens from settling on our skin by competing with them for the same food.
This fungus eats the skin oil and excretes oleic acid, which gets washed away when you shower.
Oleic acid can penetrate the scalp’s skin and irritate it. If there is too much irritation, the skin gets inflamed, and the scalp tries to get rid of the oleic acid by shedding the skin faster, which are seen as white dandruff flakes.
Now play this story again and figure out what can cause dandruff:
- Men have more oil glands than women and are likelier to get dandruff.
- Hormonal changes in teenagers can increase skin oil production, making them dandruff victims.
- Stress can increase oil production and reduce immunity against the fungus.
- Poor hygiene can prevent oleic acid from getting washed away.
- Everyone’s scalp has this fungus; so dandruff cannot be contagious.
- Excessively oily skin can cause dandruff. So applying oil to hair can’t treat dandruff.
- Prolonged itchy skin can scar the scalp, causing some hair loss; but dandruff cannot lead to hair loss.
- Air pollution has hydrocarbons that your scalp skin can absorb, triggering dandruff.
- Heat and humidity increase oil production.
- Some people think dry weather can cause dandruff, but that is untrue. Dry weather leads to dry skin and small, dry flakes; dandruff flakes are large and oily.
- Processed and fried foods, salt, sugar, preservatives, red meat, alcohol, chocolate, dairy, and soft drinks increase skin oil production, potentially worsening dandruff.
- On the other hand, green leafy vegetables, bell peppers, carrots, tomatoes, fresh fruits, cottage cheese, and foods with omega-3 oils, such as fatty fish, control oil secretions and help prevent dandruff.
- Antiinflammatory foods can reduce inflammatory reactions in the scalp, helping control dandruff.
- Finally, the fungus responsible for dandruff is essential for scalp health. So don’t use harsh anti-fungal shampoos in the hope of getting rid of this fungus.
To Read More
- American Academy of Dermatology: How to Treat Dandruff
- Vogue: Breaking 6 myths around dandruff, and how to deal with it
- EverydayHealth: Surprising Facts About Dandruff
First Published on: 18th May 2023
Image Credit: Image by Freepik