Dandruff – What Causes It?

Dandruff – What Causes It?


By Dr. Sandesh Gupta, Dermatology

Dandruff is an extremely chronic condition of the scalp. It is characterized by the skin on your scalp becoming flaky and white. However, this is not a serious condition. Dandruff can usually be controlled by just shampooing your hair. Even a medicated shampoo is not needed unless it is a very severe case of dandruff. Here is everything you need to know about dandruff:


There are several causes of dandruff including:

1. Seborrheic Dermatitis-

Seborrheic dermatitis is when your skin becomes inflammed, irritated and oily.

2. Infrequent Shampooing-

Infrequent shampooing causes oil and skin cells to accumulate which cause dandruff.

3. Skin Drying Up-

Dry skin causes less oily and smaller flakes than with other forms of dandruff.

4. Malassezia-

Malassezia is a yeast infection which rests on your scalp and is usually harmless. However, sometimes it may cause extra skin cells to grow which then fall off and become flaky, thus causing dandruff.


Dandruff symptoms are quite noticeable. You will see oily, white flakes of dead skin cells throughout your hair accompanied by a possibly itchy scalp.


The treatment for dandruff is washing your head with medicated shampoos. The possible medicines which are put in shampoos include:

1. Tar-

These slow down the rate at which the skin cells die and flake off. Seborrheic dermatitis and psoriasis can also be treated with tar.

2. Zinc Pyrithione-

This is an antibacterial and antifungal agent which may also cure seborrheic dermatitis.

3. Ketoconazole-

This is said to be the most effective agent in curing dandruff.

4. Selenium Sulfide-

Selenium sulfide is an agent which slows down the growth of hyperproliferative and normal cells in dandruff.