The Early Signs And Symptoms Of Dandruff

Medically Reviewed By Dr. Shruti Chavan, MBBS Dermatologist
Written by Sucharita Mishra

Do you feel like dandruff is a chore to deal with? Do you want to get rid of those pesky little flakes once and for all? Then you have come to the right place. In this article, we will discuss some of the early signs and symptoms of dandruff and how you can treat the condition. Keep reading.

Causes Of Dandruff

Dandruff can have a few common causes:

  • Irregular shampooing causes dead skin cells to accumulate on the scalp. This may lead to flakes and itching.
  • Malassezia, a yeast, may also cause dandruff (1).
  • Certain personal care products containing chemicals can make the scalp red and itchy.

Dandruff is more common among men. Individuals with oily skin may also experience dandruff more frequently. People dealing with Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, or traumatic brain injury might also experience dandruff or seborrheic dermatitis (2).

Identifying the early symptoms of dandruff can help treat it more effectively. We have listed the most common dandruff symptoms in the following section.

Symptoms Of Dandruff

1. Itchy Scalp

An itchy scalp is the most common symptom of dandruff. The itching is caused due to loose visible flakes (the dead skin cells from the scalp). This symptom is more common in the winters. Dry scalp is the main cause of winter dandruff.

2. Hair Fall

Hair fall is a common symptom for most scalp problems, including dandruff. While losing 50 to 100 hair strands in a day is normal, anything beyond that can be a cause for concern. Such rapid hair fall could be a symptom of an unaddressed dandruff condition.

3. Dry/Dull Hair

Dandruff tends to extract existing scalp oils, leaving hair dry and dull.

4. Acne/Pimples

A sudden outbreak of pimples or acne could be another serious symptom of dandruff. Such outbreaks have a reddish appearance and could be painful too.

Dandruff can manifest in different types. Which of these are you experiencing?

Types Of Dandruff

1. Dry Skin Dandruff

This dandruff type is common in winters. Washing your scalp and hair with hot water may make your hair dry and flaky, causing dandruff. You may use moisturizing shampoos to treat this dandruff. Avoiding hair colors or chemical treatments can also help.

2. Oil-Related Dandruff

This dandruff type is caused due to the accumulation of excess sebum on the scalp. The sebum can clump the dead skin cells and cause itchy flakes. Stress and anxiety could contribute to this excess sebum production.

3. Fungal Dandruff

Fungal dandruff is caused by a fungus named Malassezia (1). This fungus feeds on the excess scalp sebum. It causes the skin cells to clump and leads to itchy flakes.

4. Disease-Related Dandruff

Ceratin skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis may cause excess production of skin cells. These skin cells, when in contact with sebum or dirt, may cause dandruff.

Identifying the type of dandruff you have is the first step in treating it. Combating dandruff, most often, is a matter of following certain simple methods.

How To Treat Dandruff?

1. Use An Anti-Dandruff Shampoo

Anti-dandruff shampoos are suitable for treating most types of dandruff. A mild shampoo is ideal, as it removes the itchy flakes without drying your scalp or hair out.

2. Use A Moisturizer

A dry scalp may cause itchiness and flakes. Hence, moisturizing your scalp can help. You can use virgin coconut oil for this purpose. The oil has antibacterial properties and helps fight dryness (3).

3. Maintain Proper Hygiene

Maintaining proper hygiene is important. Regular shampooing reduces excess scalp sebum. Also, limit the use of hair products as using too many of them can aggravate scalp itching. More importantly, resist the urge to scratch your scalp. Scratching can lead to scalp inflammation and worsen the condition.

4. Reduce Stress

Dandruff due to Malassezia fungus is more likely to occur with a compromised immune system (4). Stress is a major reason for weakened immunity (5). Reduce stress by practicing regular exercise/meditation. Taking a walk or listening to calming music can also help.

You may also talk to your doctor and opt for certain medications to treat dandruff.

What Medications Help Treat Dandruff?

  • Zinc Pyrithione: Zinc pyrithione has antimicrobial, antifungal, and antibacterial properties. The medication helps treat dandruff by inhibiting the growth of the dandruff-causing yeast (1).
  • Selenium Sulfide: Selenium sulfide is an antifungal agent that helps treat dandruff (1).

Dandruff can be uncomfortable and irritating. However, dealing with it at an early stage reduces its ill effects on your hair. We hope this article has helped you understand the early dandruff symptoms and how you can treat them. Try the remedies listed and you will be happy with the results.

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Sucharita Mishra has a Master’s degree in Biotechnology and specializes in writing on Health and Wellness. She has worked on determining various heavy metals present in green tea for her Master’s dissertation at CSIR- CFTRI, Mysuru. After completing her degree, Sucharita decided to pursue her passion for writing. She is addicted to all things black and aspires to become a bat one day.