You scratch your head. Then you see some white stuff fall off. And you know what that means. You have dandruff. But what causes dandruff? What makes your scalp itch badly? What makes those white flakes fall on your clothes?
What is Dandruff?
Almost everyone, at least at one point of their lives, has experienced having dandruff. Dandruff is a skin condition that may arise on any area of the skin where hair grows. It usually occurs in the scalp but are as such as the ears, nose, beards, eyebrows, and chest area. Dandruff is a common chronic scalp problem that is characterized by flaking of the skin on the scalp and itching of the scalp. These flakes are the ones that you see falling on your shoulder. In some cases, redness may also occur.
Causes of Dandruff
There are several things that may cause dandruff. The following are the causes of dandruff:
• Overproduction of dead skin cells. This is the most common cause of dandruff. Your skin naturally sheds off dead skin cells from time to time. But in some people, there is an abnormal production of and shedding of these dead skin cells.
• Dry skin. You have probably noticed how easily your skin flakes off when it is dry. The same goes with your scalp. When the skin in your scalp gets very dry, tiny white flakes form and are shed off. The dandruff flakes you get with dry skin are less oily, if not oily at all, compared to dandruff caused by other things.
• Not enough shampoo. Oil and dirt builds up through time. And if you don’t wash your hair regularly and properly you will end up with a lot of dead skin cells and oils in your scalp. This build up will lead to dandruff.
• Contact dermatitis. Contact dermatitis is another term for sensitivity to certain products. When you are sensitive to certain products or their ingredients, you are most likely to end up with some allergic reactions. Take for example paraphenylene diamine (PPD). PPD is an ingredient of hair care products and hair dyes. It can cause red, itchy, and scaling scalp. Using too much styling products and shampooing too often can irritate your scalp and cause dandruff.
• Seborrheic dermatitis. This skin condition is one of the most frequent causes of dandruff. Seborrheic dermatitis is characterized by red, greasy skin with flaky white or yellow scales. Seborrheic dermatitis is also known as irritated, oily skin and can affect areas other than the scalp, such as the sides of the nose, back of the ears, eyebrows, armpits, groin area, and breastbone.
• Malassezia. Malassezia is a yeast-like fungus that grows on the scalps of most healthy adults. But this fungus may grow out of control by feeding on the oils present in your scalp. This can lead to a skin irritation and cause more skin cells to grow. This abundant production of new skin cells causes an increase in the production of dead cells as well. And with this, dead cells in your scalp accumulate, clump, and flake off, giving you dandruff. Dandruff due to malassezia resembles that of seborrheic dermatitis and there is no exact known cause of the overgrowth of malasezzia.
• Psoriasis. Psoriasis is a skin condition wherein there is an accumulation of dead skin cells that form thick scales. Psoriasis usually occurs on the knees and elbows but it may also affect your scalp. The accumulation of dead skin cells on your scalp is a precursor of dandruff.
• Eczema. Eczema is another skin condition that can occur on your scalp and lead to dandruff, just like psoriasis.
• Diet. Your overall health highly depends on your diet. What you eat and what you don’t eat affect how your body
performs and the condition of your skin. Some experts say that people who don’t consume enough B vitamins, zinc, and certain fats are more prone to having dandruff.
• Mental stress. Just like diet, mental stress affects your skin condition. Poor skin is more likely to develop dandruff than healthy skin.
There are many different possible causes of dandruff. But all of these can be remedied by changing some habits and your diet.