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Dandruff Facts & Fiction


Dandruff, a common chronic scalp condition, is incredibly annoying and unsightly. Take it from anyone who has it! Unfortunately, the problem can represent more than just pesky white flakes falling from your scalp like a mini blizzard. Dandruff can sometimes lead to itchy, red patches that can scab and even bleed.

No matter how much you're suffering, you're not going through this embarrassing affliction alone. According to the International Journal of Trichology, about 50 million people in the USA suffer from dandruff. So, yeah, it's a thing.

Fact #1: There are three different types of dandruff.

Pityriasis simplex is the basic white flakes; seborrheic dermatitis is what the condition is called when you see yellow flakes, redness, and more oil; and psoriasis is the most severe of the three dandruffs that causes itching, redness, and bleeding. Lesions elsewhere on your body, like your elbows or knees, are also an indication that you might be dealing with psoriasis.

In general, most scalp conditions would fall under one of these areas. If you're experiencing more of the severe symptoms, you should definitely consult with your primary-care doctor or a dermatologist.

Fact #2: Dandruff is caused by a yeast on your scalp called malassezia.

While it might sound gross, everyone has this yeast on their scalp - but that doesn't necessarily mean you'll have flakes. Only the first two types of dandruff - pityriasis simplex and seborrheic dermatitis - are usually caused by this yeast, and your scalp is only affected if it's aggravated by the malassezia.

Still, a common misconception surrounding dandruff is that it's caused by dryness. People think dandruff is triggered dry skin, but it's actually due to scalp oil. For the most part, the more oily your scalp is, the more the malassezia yeast multiplies and triggers dandruff.

Fact #3: Sometimes dandruff is hereditary, sometimes it's not.

While there is a genetic link to dandruff, that's not always the case. People can also have dandruff when no one else in their family has it.

All kinds of things can cause dandruff to pop up or get worse. A woman's menstrual cycle and stress are some internal causes that bring on the flakes, while external influences like cold or dry weather, or shampooing your hair less, can have the same effect. Even the foods you eat (particularly things like chocolate and cheese) can trigger it, but all of these causes only affect the people who are already prone to dandruff.

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