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What Are The Main Causes Of Dandruff


Dandruff is dry skin cells that are white or greyish in color and could become quite problematic when the condition worsens and there is consistent itching and shedding. This is a widespread problem with quite a significant number of people all over the world suffering from it. Though not dangerous, dandruff problems are not easy to correct and require persistent efforts to cure. At the initial stage, a mild shampoo is good enough, but if the situation persists a medicated shampoo might be necessary. The symptoms are itchiness and flaking and you could also have red and greasy patches. 

Dandruff is caused by a fungus known as Malassezia Globosa and it gets its nutrition from the oils present in the scalp. The fungus breaks down the oils to produce oleic acid and this could cause the shedding of the scalp skin in some people allergic to it. People affected by this problem might find that their skin matures and peels off within 7 days as opposed to a month in other people. Let’s find out more about the causes of dandruff in hair.

Symptoms Of Dandruff 

Dandruff symptoms make themselves appear much before the problem sets in. Some of the most apparent symptoms of dandruff are 

  • Skin flakes which could be small and white while they could also be yellow, large, and greasy,
  • Flaking on the scalp or eyebrows, the flakes could also be seen in the hairline, nose or ears, on the back of the middle portion of the chest. 

What Are The Causes Of Dandruff?

Men usually are more prone to dandruff than women. Individuals who have oily scalps or are suffering from certain medical conditions have a high possibility of developing a dandruff problem. The causes of dandruff on the scalp could be numerous but there are certain causes. Let’s find out what are the causes of dandruff on scalp.

Cause 1: One of the main causes of dandruff hair is oily skin which causes irritation. This is also the most common reason for dandruff in hair. It is also referred to as seborrheic dermatitis. Scaly patches, dandruff, and red skin are some results of it. This could also affect the eyebrows, sides of the ear, eyelids, and chest.  The condition might not need treatment as it could go away on its own. However, on occasion, it does require treatment. 

The condition can be treated by washing regularly to soften and remove the scales from the hair. One should take care to avoid styling products that use chemicals as these are one of the main causes of dandruff. 

Cause 2: Lack of proper hair hygiene can also cause the skin cells to pile up and create flakes and irritation which is one of the main causes of dandruff. Shampooing on a regular basis is absolutely essential. At the same time, it is also important to try and maintain some consistency and regularity in the hair products that you use, do not use too many. This could only serve to further irritate the scalp. Also, do NOT scratch your scalp to answer to your itch as it will only aggravate your problem. 

Cause 3: Yeast cells known as Malassezia, affect your scalp and cause exaggerated skin cell growth. Ideally, your skin has a minimum amount of yeast which is not harmful, it is only when it grows inordinately that you might face a problem. This normally happens when a particular part of your body remains excessively damp or moist and does not receive air. This could be one of the reasons for dandruff. Yeast could also be a result of

  • Stress
  • Wrong medication
  • Presence of chemicals in your hair products
  • Bad diet.

A prolonged infection could result in an accumulation of flakes and dead skin and that might demand medical intervention. 

Cause 4: Some hair care products might have a harmful combination of chemicals that are unsuitable for your scalp and lead to dermatitis or skin inflammation. In this condition, the skin becomes dry and red. Some types of dermatitis last for a long time while you could face intermittent attacks as a result of others due to reasons like stress, the weather, and different types of exposure. Certain people experience severe attacks in humid conditions while others might face significant issues during the dry winter season. 

Dandruff Treatment

There are numerous home remedies that you can use to deal with your dandruff issues. Regardless of the fact of whether you have an oily or dry scalp, certain oil remedies can work wonders on your hair.

  • Aloe vera gel: The amino acids and antioxidants in aloe vera gel can help fight dandruff. It helps in moisture retention and facilitates healing. The anti-inflammatory properties can help solve dandruff problems that result in itchiness. Aloe vera can also repair dead cells and stop itching.
  • Tea tree oil: Tea tree oil is regarded as one of the most effective remedies for dandruff. It has valuable antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties but probably the most potent attribute of tea tree oil is its capacity to combat the strains of fungus that cause dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis. 

Add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to ½ a cup of aloe vera gel and mix well. Apply this to your hair and scalp and wash your hair after half an hour. Try out his remedy once a week.

  • Apple cider vinegar: Apple cider vinegar helps adjust the natural pH levels of the scalp and thereby assists in fighting dandruff. It penetrates the follicles and eliminates any build-up. 

Massage apple cider vinegar into your scalp and wash it off after 10 minutes with a mild shampoo and apply a conditioner after that. Try out this remedy twice a week.

You can also use a mix of aloe vera and apple cider vinegar as it prevents flaking promotes cell growth, moisturizes your hair, and clears clogged follicles. Add 5 tablespoons of coconut milk to 6 tablespoons of aloe vera gel and mix it well. Wet your hair and massage it into your scalp and wash it out after 5 minutes. Add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to a cup of water and use this mixture to rinse out your hair.

  • Coconut Oil: Coconut oil is also a very effective remedy for dandruff. It is a very good moisturizer and helps fight dryness which could increase dandruff. The anti-microbial properties solve inflammation and itching problems.
  • Neem oil: Neem is blessed with antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties which build up a powerful armory against the negative effects of dandruff. Neem oil or a neem hair mask are good options. 
  • Fenugreek Seeds: Fenugreek seeds are rich in protein and are very helpful in combating the negative effects of hair fall due to dandruff and dryness. They moisturize the scalp and strengthen the roots. 
  • Baking Soda: A very convenient remedy for dandruff found in most kitchens is baking soda. It can remove dead skin and exfoliate the scalp. It has anti-fungal properties that are very effective in the treatment of dandruff.

You can also use a mixture of baking soda and apple cider vinegar. Use 2 tablespoons each of baking soda and apple cider vinegar to make a thick paste and massage it into your scalp to clear the dead skin and remove build-up. Rinse your hair with cool water afterward. 

  • Neem leaves: You can boil neem leaves in water and use it to rinse your hair or you can also make a paste out of neem leaves and leave it on your scalp for half an hour before washing it off.
  • Coal tar: Coal tar is also very useful in treating dandruff as it helps in eliminating the excess skin cells in your scalp and making them flake off slowly. However, a number of people are allergic to coal tar, and therefore they would be well advised to test it before using it.
  • Mehndi: Mehndi is also a very popular cure for dandruff as it helps soften the hair. Prepare a mix using mehndi, curd, and lemon juice. Use the paste after 8 hours. Let it stay on your hair for 2 hours before washing it off.
  • A Balanced Diet: It is also very important to have a balanced diet which would build immunity and enable the body to fight against various infections. 

A deficiency in Omega-3 fatty acids can lead to dry hair, hair fall, and dandruff. A nutritious diet with a good intake of foods rich in omega-3 like salmon and mackerel can help reduce problems related to dryness. 

Probiotics are very important in raising the immunity levels of the body and can help prevent fungal infections which cause dandruff.  They are very useful in treating and preventing skin conditions such as dermatitis and eczema. Fermented foods such as tempeh, kimchi, and kombucha have rich probiotic content.

  • Avoid Certain Foods: Apart from incorporating the right foods into your diet plan, it is equally important to avoid certain harmful food that could only aggravate your dandruff issues. You should generally avoid foods like white bread or white pasta, fried foods, processed foods, and sugary foods among other things. 
  • Reducing Stress Levels: It is very important to reduce stress levels as prolonged periods of mental stress can lead to a weakened immune system. This will hamper the ability of the body to combat different infections including fungal issues which might lead to increased dandruff. Stress often leads to seborrheic dermatitis, one of the most frequent causes of dandruff.


Dandruff in itself is not a very serious problem as once the reason behind the issue is uncovered, you have multiple options available for its treatment. What is important is quick corrective measures after you have identified the causes of dandruff. If you allow the problem to fester it could lead to more serious scalp issues in the future. Do take the Traya hair test and figure out the cause of your hair ailment so that you can move towards an early resolution of your problems. 


Q1 - What Is Dandruff Caused By?

Ans - Dandruff is caused by the accumulation of fungus on your scalp. This happens when you do not shampoo regularly and leads to the growth of skin cells and itching. Dandruff can also happen because of over-shampooing and over-drying of the scalp. If you brush and overdried the scalp, it creates friction with the skin and causes dandruff. 

Q2 - How do I get rid of dandruff?

Ans - There are certain basic ways to reduce dandruff. Shampoo regularly to reduce the accumulation of skin cells and oil on your scalp. If the accumulation of dandruff is more severe you might have to use a medicated shampoo. Pyrithione zinc shampoos, tar-based shampoos, shampoos using salicylic acid,  selenium sulfide shampoos, ketoconazole shampoos, and fluocinolone shampoos can be used. However, if your hair is drier you need to shampoo less and use a moisturizing shampoo for the scalp and hair. There are also a number of home remedies and you can use apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, or baking soda as effective solutions for dandruff. 

Q3 - Can Dandruff Be Caused By Stress?

Ans - While stress itself might not cause dandruff it can definitely worsen dandruff caused by Malassezia which is a microbe always present on your scalp.

Q4 - How Do I Get Rid Of Dandruff Fast?

Ans - Baking soda is the quickest remedy to remove dandruff. It has potent antifungal properties and is also a very good exfoliant that helps reduce itchiness and scaling and removes dead skin cells.


Zahra Lokhandwala

Hair Coach

Zahra is the hair coach-in-chief at Traya. She works closely with the doctors to monitor all cases. She is a fitness freak and has not touched sugar in years!

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