Dandruff Symptoms, Types and Treatments: All you need to know!

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What is dandruff?  |  Symptoms  |   Types   |  Treatment options | Dandruff in eyebrow | Final thoughts  | Watch video!

Dandruff Symptoms, Types and Treatments: All you need to know!
Credit: Google

What is dandruff?

When you brush your hair, annoying white flakes starts falling off on your shoulder and collar. These flakes are dandruff which affects the scalp and damage hairDandruff is caused by factors like genetics, hair care habits, climate, and other lifestyle factors. However, the most common cause of dandruff is Malassezia (a type of yeast naturally present on the scalp). When Malassezia grows too quickly, it can cause the skin cells on the scalp to shed more frequently, leading to the formation of dandruff flakes. Dandruff can also trigger by a lack of moisture, which leads to a dry and flaky scalp.

Although dandruff is not a critical medical condition and it does not spread by any contact1. Dandruff is not that harmful, however it can have a significant impact on hair health and appearance.  

Symptoms of dandruff

The most common symptoms of dandruff include: 

  1. Dandruff causes itching and irritation on the scalp. It can be uncomfortable and even lead to scratching, which can further irritate the scalp.
  2. There is an appearance of white or yellow flakes on the scalp. These flakes can be small or large and are often visible in the hair and clothing.
  3. Sometimes, there is an unpleasant odor on the scalp. This odor can be due to the buildup of dead skin cells and oils on the scalp.
  4. Your scalp becomes dryThis can be especially noticeable during the winter months when the air is dry and the scalp is more prone to dryness.
  5. In some cases, there is a redness and inflammation on the scalp. It is a sign of a more severe form of dandruff called seborrheic dermatitis.
  6. Your scalp starts to feel greasy and oily. After one or two days of washing your hair, your scalp becomes shiny due to excessive oil production.
Dandruff Symptoms, Types and Treatments: All you need to know!
Credits: Google

What type is causing dandruff?

1.  Dry skin type:

This type of dandruff occurs when the scalp is dry and flaky. It is often caused by cold weather, low humidity, using harsh shampoos or hair products that strip the scalp of its natural oils. If you wash your hair frequently with hot water, it can cause dry skin dandruff. The flakes are usually small and white and can easily brush off the scalp. 

2.  Oily scalp type:

A gland present under the surface of your skin (called sebaceous gland), that produces an oily substance called sebum. Due to some reasons, these glands produce excessive sebum that makes your skin too oily. This excessive oil can irritate the scalp, leading to larger flakes that may appear oilier too.

3. Fungus related type:

This type of dandruff is caused by an overgrowth of a yeast-like fungus called Malassezia2, which is naturally present on the scalp of every person. The fungus feeds on the excess oil produced by the scalp, leading to an increase in the production of skin cells and the formation of oily, yellowish flakes.

4.  Skin conditions related type:

This type of dandruff is caused by skin conditions like seborrheic dermatitis and  Psoriasis3. Seborrheic dermatitis is a severe form of dandruff caused by oily skin. It can cause redness, inflammation, and scaling on the scalp. 

Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes the rapid production of skin cells, resulting in red, scaly patches on the scalp and other areas of the body. The flakes caused by scalp psoriasis are powdery in appearance and covered with a silvery-white buildup of dead skin cells.

5. Contact dermatitis type:

This type of dandruff occurs when the scalp comes in contact with some irritated substanceIt is caused by an allergic reaction to hair dyes, shampoos, or other hair products. The symptoms can include redness, itching, scaling and can be similar to those of seborrheic dermatitis. 

Treatment options for dandruff

There is no ultimate cure for dandruff, but you can minimize dandruff symptoms by several treatments that include:

1. Use gentle anti-dandruff shampoo:

For some people, gentle anti-dandruff shampoo that does not contain harmful chemicals, is best for treating dandruff. For dry scalp dandruff, use a shampoo that contains natural ingredients like Tea tree oil4. Tea Tree Oil has natural antifungal properties that can help to reduce dandruff when used regularly.

Avoid using numerous hair items like hair showers, gels, and mousses as they contain harsh synthetic substances that can disturb the scalp and cause dandruff. 

2. Try other anti-dandruff shampoo:

Some people with oily and inflamed scalp can try these anti-dandruff shampoos5 


  • Use Antifungal Shampoos that contain active ingredients like ketoconazole, selenium sulfide, or zinc pyrithione, which target the yeast Malassezia that can contribute to dandruff. 
  • Shampoos that contain salicylic acid also help to exfoliate the scalp, removing dead skin cells and reducing flakiness.
  • Another ingredient coal Tar slows down the growth of skin cells on the scalp, thereby decreasing dandruff.
  • Sulfur Shampoos help to reduce oiliness and scalp inflammation, which can contribute to dandruff.

Use an anti-dandruff shampoo at least twice a week to keep dandruff under controlIf these OTC shampoos do not provide relief, see a dermatologist near you. 

3. Moisturizing treatment

Dryness and flakiness, which can lead to dandruff, can result from not moisturizing the scalp. Use a conditioner to keep your hair and scalp moisturized.  A moisturizing scalp treatment should be used once a week to keep the scalp hydrated and healthy. For moisturization, you can further massage your scalp with several oils that prevent dandruff and irritated scalp. Regular scalp massages with oil can help to reduce flakiness.

You can treat dandruff at home by adding natural ingredients to your daily hair care routine. 

Dandruff Symptoms, Types and Treatments: All you need to know!
Credit: Google

4. Additional approaches:

Healthy hair and scalp require a well-balanced diet. Not eating a well-balanced diet can lead to certain vitamin deficiencies, which can cause dandruff and an irritated scalpTo maintain health of hair and scalp, it is suggested to consume a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats.

Try to manage stress levels by practicing relaxation techniques like meditation or yoga, as stress can worsen dandruff symptoms.

Keeping your scalp clean and healthy is necessary to combat dandruff. Wash hair frequently, as it stops the development of oil and dirt on the scalp, which causes bothering and dandruff. 

Why is dandruff in my eyebrows?

Some people get dandruff on other areas of the body, for example: the eyebrows. The causes of eyebrow dandruff are similar to those of scalp dandruff. It can be due to dry skin, oily skin, contact dermatitis or fungal infection

For treating eyebrow dandruff, it is best to moisturize your eyebrows with Vaseline at night. If you have eyebrow dandruff due to oily skin, use OTC shampoos in your eyebrows. Avoid contact with eyes.

Final thoughts:

Dandruff is a common scalp condition that can causes a range of symptoms, including white flakes, itching, dryness, redness, and oily scalp. The five types of dandruff are dry skin dandruff, oily scalp dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis, and allergic contact dermatitis. The symptoms of each type of dandruff can vary, and it is necessary to seek medical advice if you are experiencing persistent or severe symptoms.  With proper care and treatment, you can reduce symptoms of dandruff.

However, with the right treatment, we can keep dandruff under control. Use an anti-dandruff shampoo, keep your scalp clean, manage stress, and eat a healthy diet to prevent dandruff and maintain healthy hair.

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1. Healthline. (August 12, 2019). Is Dandruff Contagious? And Other Important Questions About Those Frustrating Flakes.

2. Experimental dermatology. (July, 16 2019). Published on WILEY ONLINE LIBRARY. Seborrheic dermatitis—Looking beyond Malassezia

 3. Healthline. Updated on (September 9, 2021). What Type of Dandruff Is Causing Your Flaky Scalp? 

4. Healthline. Updated on (April 3, 2018). Tea Tree Oil for Dandruff.

5. Healthline. Updated on (November 7, 2023). What Causes Dandruff and How to Remove It: Common dandruff shampoo brands

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