Dandruff: Symptoms and Treatment

What is dandruff?


Dandruff is a condition of the scalp that makes flakes of dead skin appear in the hair, and on the collar and shoulders.

Dandruff is common, affecting around half of all people at some stage.

You cannot catch dandruff and while it isn’t usually serious, it can be embarrassing or itchy.


What are the symptoms of dandruff?


Symptoms of dandruff include:

  • Flakes of skin that range from small and white to large, greasy, and yellow.

  • Itchy flaking that appears on the scalp or eyebrows or around the hairline, ears or nose.

Dandruff is usually diagnosed through the flakes of skin, but in severe cases, other skin or health conditions may be investigated.


Causes of dandruff:


In a person with dandruff, usual skin renewal cycle gets speeded up causing more patches of dead skin cells on the scalp.

Dandruff isn’t a sign of dirty hair, although it can be triggered by too much washing as well as too little.


Dandruff can also be linked to:

  • Seborrheic dermatitis: causing greasy yellow or red scaling, crust or patches.

  • The skin fungus malassezia.

  • Psoriasis: appears as thick, silvery, scaly patches over joint surfaces. It is also commonly found in the scalp

  • Eczema: Eczema can best be described as a non-contagious skin condition, which is characterized by hot dry itchy skin, with symptoms that often fluctuate seasonally and even over the course of the day.

  • Stress

  • Some hair products

  • A weakened immune system

Seek medical advice if:

Scaling is greasy and yellow and does not respond to professional shampoos and treatment; you may have seborrheic dermatitis and need more intensive treatment to relieve the redness, itching and flaking.


What are the treatments for dandruff?


Mild cases of dandruff may need nothing more than more frequent use of a mild shampoo massaged gently into the scalp.

Shampooing more often with an antidandruff shampoo or one containing tea tree oil can help, also some clients may need a therapeutic oil.


Not all products will be suitable for everyone and all hair types. Seek out a professional stylist or medical advice if you have concerns.


It may help to avoid hairspray and hair gel products until the dandruff clears up.