Dandruff is a common condition that causes the skin on the scalp to flake. It isn’t contagious or serious. But it can be embarrassing at times and difficult to treat and get rid of permanently. Mild dandruff can be treated with a gentle daily shampoo.

Dandruff is considered to be a mild form of Seborrheic dermatitis. It is a common skin condition that mainly affects the scalp and causes scaly patches, red skin and stubborn dandruff. It can also affect oily areas of the body such as face, sides of the nose, eyebrows, ears, eyelids and chest. In babies, Seborrheic dermatitis is called Cradle Cap. This condition is more common in infants within the first three months after they are born. In adults, between 1% and 10% people are affected. Males are more often affected than female. The cause of Seborrheic dermatitis has not been fully clarified. The condition is thought to be due to a local inflammatory response to over-colonization by Malassezia fungi species in sebum-producing skin areas including the scalp, face, chest, back, underarms and groin.


Dandruff may have several causes including:-

  • irritated, oily skin.
  • not using shampoo frequently.
  • an yeast-like fungus Malassezia that feeds on oils on the scalps of most adults.
  • dry skin.
  • sensitivity to hair care products.
  • other skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.


In about half of the human population, it’s activity causes dandruff. Our skin hosts billions of microbes. Malassezia yeasts make themselves at home on our skin shortly after we are born. Follicles, the tiny cavities that grow hairs all over our body, make for especially popular living quarters for these. Malassezia are found in these follicles because they contain glands that secrete an oil called sebum, that’s thought to lubricate and strengthen our hair. Malassezia evolved to consume our skin’s proteins and oils and because of it’s many sebum-secreting follicles our scalp is one of the oiliest places on our body and consequently one of the yeastiest.

As these fungi feast on our scalp’s oils, dandruff may form. This is because sebum is composed of both saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. Saturated fats perfectly pack together whereas unsaturated fats contain double bonds that create an irregular twist or curl in their structure. Malassezia eat sebum by secreting an enzyme that releases all of the oil’s fatty acids but they only consume the saturated fats, leaving the unsaturated ones behind. These unsaturated fats(irregularly shaped) soak into the skin and pry it’s barrier open allowing water to escape. The body detects these breaches and responds defensively causing the inflammation that gives dandruff it’s itch. It also makes the skin cells proliferate to repair the damaged barrier.


Usually our skin’s outer surface, or epidermis completely renews itself every two to three weeks. Epidermal cells divide, move outwards, die and form the skin’s tough outer layer which gradually sheds off in single cells far too small to see. But with dandruff cells churn out quickly to correct the broken barrier, meaning they don’t mature and differentiate properly. Instead they form large, greasy clumps around the hair follicle that are shed as visible flakes. Currently the most effective way to get rid of dandruff is by using Antifungal shampoos or as recommended by the Dermatologist.

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