5 Sneaky Dandruff Causes That Have Nothing to Do with Dry Skin

Can’t seem to shake those pesky white flakes? A myriad of factors may be to blame for a flare-up, from what you eat to how often you wash your hair.

You’re sensitive to your hair’s natural fungus


Contrary to popular belief, dry skin isn’t one of the causes of dandruff. The real culprit: an overgrowth of a common yeast called pityrosporum orbiculare. The yeast feeds on skin oils, which may explain why people with oily scalps are more susceptible to dandruff. “Some people make oil that is particularly likely to harbor this organism, and they get dandruff at the drop of a hat,” explains Robert T. Brodell, MD, professor and chair of the department of dermatology at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Normally, a mild case of dandruff will respond to self-treatment, so give home remedies or over-the-counter dandruff shampoos about two weeks to work. Check out these other 21 reasons your scalp might be itchy.

You’re stressed out


One of the many dandruff causes is stress. It may be a clue that you need to relax. “Stress can worsen any skin condition,” says New York City-based dermatologist Lotika Singh, MD. Stress impairs your immune system and can be one of the causes of dandruff, provoking flare-ups. “Particularly in the cases where the dandruff is itchy,” she adds. “[Stress] can perpetuate an itch-scratch cycle: the more the patient scratches, the itchier it becomes.” Incorporate relaxation techniques into your everyday routine. Try yoga, a daily walk, or some deep breathing (inhale for a count of four, hold the breath for a count of four, exhale for a count of four).

You’re not shampooing (or rinsing) your hair enough


Proponents of the “no-poo” (no shampoo) movement say frequent washing can strip your hair of necessary oils. But those oils can also create a hotbed for flakes. “Dandruff can result when there’s a build-up of oils/sebum or sweat on the scalp, says Dr. Brodell. “Washing hair more frequently can help reduce the sebum and control dandruff and its symptoms.” Opt for shampoos with tea tree oil, which has been shown in studies to significantly improve the severity of dandruff. And take care to rinse shampoo thoroughly: leftover residue could create a feeding ground for pityrosporum orbiculare. If you’re looking for a solution, try these dandruff shampoos.

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