Why Do I Get Dandruff? Know the Causes and Learn How to Manage

Why Do I Get Dandruff? Know the Causes and Learn How to Manage

If you avoid wearing black for fear that you’ll have telltale flakes on your clothes or if you’ve ever been self-conscious about having intimate conversations for fear that your dandruff will be noticeable up close, know that you are not alone. Dandruff is an annoying problem that people don’t really talk about but it’s estimated that it affects nearly half of adults (and it’s more prevalent among males). It’s time to stop being embarrassed and to start understanding the causes of dandruff to help you better manage it.

What is Dandruff?
The Mayo Clinic defines dandruff as “a common chronic scalp condition marked by flaking of the skin on your scalp.” Is dandruff contagious? No, it’s not—and you’ll understand why once you know its actual causes. (More on that later.)

While many people tend to classify any flaking as dandruff, the experts interviewed by Women’s Health magazine are more specific, saying that there is a difference between a dry scalp, dandruff, and psoriasis. Dryness is usually caused by products you’re using or the environment, so it’s easier to manage (just change the products or learn how to deal with the environment).

Psoriasis is marked by flakes that are “silvery white, clumped, and thick,” according to a dermatologist interviewed by Women’s Health, and they tend to appear on other parts of the body like elbows and knees. Dandruff symptoms include yellowish or white flakes, itchiness, and a greasy scalp.

Causes of Dandruff
Just like the rest of your skin, your scalp sheds dead skin cells on the regular. Dandruff flakes appear when skin sheds faster than normal. This may be caused by the following:

A greasy scalp. You may have associated flakiness with dryness but dandruff is actually exacerbated by a greasy scalp. Skin oils are the favorite snack of a yeast called pityrospoum orbiculare—too much of this yeast leads to dandruff.

You might have been skipping the shampoo every other day or so, but you’ll have to make it part of your daily routine to lessen the greasiness and help manage the flakes. (If you’ve heard that hot oil treatments can help get rid of dandruff, then now you know it’s a myth. Remember: Oil can only make things worse.)

Not washing your hair properly. So you’ve finally changed up your routine to include a daily shampoo but the dandruff doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. What gives? Make sure you’re rinsing your hair thoroughly after you lather up as the dandruff-causing yeast might also thrive on shampoo residue.

Also make sure you properly rinse off any hair products that you use. You don’t have to ditch your mousses, pomades, and styling sprays but do get all the gunk out of your hair to prevent buildup, which may increase oil production and—you guessed it—lead to dandruff.

Eating oily foods. The old adage “you are what you eat” may also apply to your scalp! Eating something fatty or oily won’t instantly cause dandruff but saturated and trans fats may make matters worse by stimulating your sebaceous glands, thus producing more oil. This doesn’t mean you should eliminate fat from your diet; instead, go for healthier fats from such sources as avocados, nuts, and healthy oils.

One expert suggested that full-fat dairy foods as well as sugary and spicy foods can worsen dandruff. While this has not been scientifically proven, you can try eliminating some foods from your diet that you suspect could be leading to flare-ups.

Stressing out. Stress really does a number on your body: fatigue, insomnia, irritability, upset stomach…the list goes on and on. Stress can also manifest itself in rashes and other skin conditions, so it’s no surprise that it can make your flakiness worse. Look for healthy coping mechanisms to manage chronic stress and remember to take deep breaths when you find yourself in a particularly stressful situation.

How to Manage Dandruff
Mild cases of dandruff may be treated with a medicated shampoo. Just make sure you don’t mix it up with non-medicated products (like a regular conditioner) as this may reduce its effectiveness. You can find a range of natural dandruff shampoos and conditioners at Healthy Options. If you feel your case is severe, it’s best to see a doctor.



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