Why you have dandruff: You’re sensitive to your hair’s natural fungus
Huh?! Contrary to popular belief, dandruff isn’t caused by dry skin. 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,” says Dr. Robert T. Brodell, professor and chair at 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 for dandruff or over-the-counter dandruff shampoos about two weeks to work.
Why you have dandruff: You’re stressed out
Dandruff may be a clue that you need to relax. “Stress can worsen any skin condition,” says New York City-based dermatologist Lotika Singh. Stress impairs your immune system and can provoke dandruff flare-ups.
“Particularly in the cases where the dandruff is itchy,” says Singh. “[Stress] can perpetuate an itch-scratch cycle: The more the patient scratches, the itchier it becomes.” I
ncorporate 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).
Why you have dandruff: You’re not shampooing (or rinsing) your hair enough
“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.
Why you have dandruff: You’re not eating properly
It’s not too surprising that healthy hair and skin come from the inside out. While experts won’t go so far as to blame dandruff on a poor diet, certain foods may cause a flare-up, especially if you’re already prone to dandruff.
“Diets high in saturated and trans fats cause your sebaceous glands to produce more oil, which makes dandruff worse,” Beverly Hills dermatologist Stuart H. Kaplan told EverydayHealth.com.
Aim to eat more healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, or MUFAs, whenever possible. Great sources include avocados, nuts, olives, and safflower oil. Too little vitamin B complex, which contains biotin, a nutrient that forms the basis of hair cells, may exacerbate symptoms as well. Load up on vitamin B-rich foods like oatmeal, rice, eggs, and bananas.
Why you have dandruff: You’re over-styling your hair
Using thick pomades or certain oils can potentially worsen dandruff. “Yeast feeds off lipids and can proliferate in their presence,” says Dr. Singh. Cut back on hair sprays, styling gels, and mousses when possible. These styling products can build up on your hair and scalp and cause oiliness.