Can Dandruff Cause Hair Loss?

by Ravi Teja Tadimalla

Nearly every hair type is prone to dandruff. Dandruff manifests as white flakes falling off your scalp and collecting on your shoulders. While common, dandruff can worsen with time. It can also lead to scalp inflammation, constant itching, and scratching. But would it lead to hair fall as well? If it does, what can you do about it? In this post, we discuss the causes of dandruff and its relation, if any, to hair loss. We have also listed some home remedies for dandruff and the associated hair issues. Take a look.

What Causes Dandruff?

  • Mild Dandruff: A dry scalp or constant stress can lead to the overgrowth of Malassezia fungus (which causes dandruff). Another possible cause of mild dandruff is an unhealthy diet. You may also experience mild dandruff if your scalp has an allergic reaction to certain hair products, airborne irritants, or even ultraviolet light (1), (2).
  • Severe Dandruff: A severe case of dandruff could be a result of seborrheic dermatitis. This medical condition is characterized by chronic skin inflammation caused by yeast infestation and hormonal changes. This yeast (Malassezia furfur) lives on the scalp and feeds off the sebum the scalp produces. Dandruff occurs with excess production of this sebum or an overgrowth of the fungus (3). This case of dandruff often runs in the family.

These are the major types of dandruff and their causes. But do they lead to hair loss?

Can Dandruff Cause Hair Loss?

Contrary to popular opinion, dandruff directly does not lead to hair loss. But there are a few causes that tie dandruff and hair fall together:

Certain underlying medical conditions may also cause dandruff and hair loss. We will explore them briefly in the next section.

What Conditions Can Cause Dandruff And Hair Loss?

  1. Androgenic Alopecia: Those with androgenic alopecia (male or female pattern baldness) may experience greater hair fall due to dandruff (4).
  2. Scalp Psoriasis: This autoimmune disorder causes an overgrowth of cells on the scalp. It also causes red, thickened plaques with silver-white scales (5).
  3. Scalp Ring Worm: This fungal infection is characterized by itchiness, dry flakes, and hair fall (6).
  4. Seborrheic Dermatitis: It causes oily, itchy, irritated skin, and a flaky scalp. (7)

A severe case of dandruff (and the associated hair loss) warrants a medical diagnosis. The following section highlights certain methods and options for treating these conditions.

Home Remedies To Control Dandruff And Promote Hair Growth

  1. Hydrate And Moisturize Your Scalp: You can apply coconut oil to your dry scalp. The oil hydrates your scalp, and its antifungal properties may help treat dandruff (8). However, avoid using coconut oil if you have seborrheic dermatitis.
  2. Eliminate Stress Triggers: A weak immune system due to increased stress can cause dandruff. Practice yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises to reduce your stress levels.
  3. Embrace A Healthy Diet: Take foods rich in zinc, B vitamins, and healthy fats. These can promote hair and scalp health.
  4. Stick To A Healthy Hair Care Routine: Those with an oily scalp must shampoo regularly. Those with a dry scalp but moisturize it often. A healthy hair care routine is critical.
  5. Restrict Hair Styling Products: Certain hair products and dyes contain bleach, detergents, or formaldehyde that may irritate the scalp and increase the risk of contact dermatitis.

Ayurvedic Methods To Treat Hair Loss Due To Dandruff

  1. Diet: Include zinc, B vitamins, selenium, biotin, folic acid, vitamin D, vitamin A, amino acids, and protein in your diet (9). Avoid excess intake of spicy, oily, salty, and sweet foods.
  2. Lemon Juice And Honey Hair Mask: This lemon juice and honey mask can combat dandruff and itchiness caused by a dry scalp.

Instructions

  1. Mix 3 parts honey and 1 part lemon juice.
  2. Apply this mixture to your scalp.
  3. Leave it on for 20 to 30 minutes.
  4. Rinse with lukewarm water.
  5. Neem Oil: Neem oil can help ease dandruff caused by an oily scalp.
  6. Massage your scalp with neem oil.
  7. Leave it on overnight and allow your hair to soak in it.
  8. Rinse in the morning.

You may also use neem in its powdered form.

Instructions

  1. Mix equal amounts of neem powder, reetha powder, shikakai powder, and dry amla powder.
  2. Apply the paste to the scalp.
  3. Rinse after 60 minutes.

Top Shampoos To Control Dandruff

Regular use of medicated anti-dandruff shampoos may help reduce the symptoms. Read the product labels and pick a shampoo with one or more of these ingredients:

  • Tea Tree Oil: Shampoos with 5% tea tree oil were effective in treating mild to moderate dandruff. The oil has antifungal, antibiotic, and antiseptic properties (10).
  • Ketoconazole: This ingredient may help kill the dandruff-causing fungi (11).
  • Pyrithione Zinc: This ingredient has antibacterial and antifungal properties that can slow down yeast production and prevent dandruff (12).
  • Salicylic Acid: This ingredient can help treat itchy scalp caused due to psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis (13). It also may help remove the dead skin cells on your scalp.

Note: Consult your dermatologist to understand the ideal frequency of shampooing and pick the right product (based on your dandruff severity and condition).

Hair Loss Medications And Dandruff

Certain medications meant for treating hair loss may increase the risk of dandruff. You may want to consult your doctor before using them. Information in this regard is scarce and unclear.

  • One such medication is minoxidil that may dry your scalp and cause dandruff-like flaking. Another medication is finasteride, which is claimed to be a better alternative.

Do Anti-Dandruff Shampoos Cause Hair Loss?

Conversely, certain variants of anti-dandruff shampoos may lead to hair loss. Formulas with selenium sulfide are more likely to cause hair loss (14). You may avoid such shampoo variants.

We have discussed the various options that can help treat dandruff and the associated hair loss. But would the lost hair also regrow?

Will Hair Loss From Dandruff Grow Back?

Hair fall due to dandruff may be reversed. It is important to keep dandruff in check with regular hair care practices. However, more information is warranted in this regard.

Closing Thoughts

Dandruff is not contagious. However, it may hamper your confidence and disrupt your daily life. Dandruff can lead to an itchy, inflamed scalp, and temporary hair loss. Consult your dermatologist if you experience constant, intense itching.

Numerous solutions help eliminate dandruff for good. The remedies listed in this post are effective and have a low risk of causing any side effects. Use them regularly for better hair and scalp health.

14 References

Stylecraze has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

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Ravi Teja Tadimalla

Ravi Teja Tadimalla is an editor and a published author. He graduated from SRM University, Chennai, and has been in the digital media field for over six years. He has a Professional Certificate in Food, Nutrition & Research from Wageningen University. He considers himself a sculptor born to chip away at content and reveal its dormant splendor. He started his career as a research writer, primarily focusing on health and wellness, and has over 250 articles to his credit. Ravi believes in the great possibilities of abundant health with natural foods and organic supplements. Reading and theater are his other interests.
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