Dandruff is a common skin condition that affects about 50% of the adult population. It is characterized by excessive flaking of the skin of the scalp and the formation of white scales that fall from the head and hair, and is often accompanied by mild itching. What are the main causes of dandruff and how can we get rid of it?

Causes of dandruff

The upper layer of the skin is constantly being peeled off and renewed, but in moderate amounts. Dandruff occurs when the skin of the scalp starts hyperproliferating. The renewal process is shortened and the keratinized layer of skin cells peels off, which together form visible dandruff.


One of the leading causes of dandruff are fungi of the genus Malassezia. They are an integral part of the skin microbiome, feeding on lipids and inhabiting the sebum-rich skin of the scalp. Excessive growth of Malassezia and activation of our immune system leads to micro-inflammation and increased flaking of the scalp. This process can be triggered by various factors such as climate conditions, hormonal changes, stress and lifestyle.

Shampoos and hair products

A possible cause of dandruff is an allergic reaction or sensitivity to certain hair care products, including shampoos, conditioners or styling products. Using such products can cause scalp irritation, i.e. contact dermatitis and flaking.

Other skin conditions

The formation of dandruff can be the result of certain conditions of the skin of the scalp. For example, the appearance of greasy, yellowish scales along with redness and itching of the scalp indicates seborrheic dermatitis. Some of the other conditions and diseases that can lead to dandruff are: psoriasis, atopic dermatitis and Tinea capitis, i.e. ringworm of the scalp.

How to get rid of it?

Dandruff is a scalp condition that can be easily treated at home. Sometimes just frequent hair washing with a mild shampoo leads to satisfactory results. If that doesn’t help, there is a large selection of dandruff shampoos with different active ingredients on the market.

Choosing a shampoo

When choosing a shampoo, it is important to pay attention to components such as zinc pyrithione, selenium sulfide and ketoconazole, which will have an antibacterial and antifungal effect. Often in such shampoos we can also find salicylic acid, which has a keratolytic effect.

In order to achieve the desired results, it is important to use the shampoo regularly and, when washing your hair, massage it thoroughly into the scalp. Before washing off the shampoo, it is necessary to wait a few minutes for the active ingredients to be absorbed into the skin.

You should see results after a month of using the shampoo. Most often, it is necessary to try several types of shampoo to find the one that leads to the best results.

A natural solution?

Plant essential oils and preparations based on them are considered to be potentially effective substances in the fight against dandruff. The anti-inflammatory properties of essential oils of tea tree, rosemary and lime could help in the treatment of dandruff. However, essential oils are often strong irritants and can cause contact dermatitis and exacerbate the existing situation. The use of such preparations requires special caution, and it is not recommended to use concentrated essential oils directly on the skin.

There is a solution

Dandruff is a very common occurrence in people of all ages. There are many ways to treat it, and it is necessary to choose the one that corresponds to individual needs and the very cause of dandruff. When choosing a shampoo, it is always advisable to contact your pharmacist or physician, and if the desired results are not achieved or there is a suspicion of a more serious problem, you should seek the help of a dermatologist.


 Translated by: Nina Šlopar



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