The Main Causes of Dandruff, And How to Treat Them

The Main Causes of Dandruff, And How to Treat Them

Itchy, flaky scalp? White flakes everywhere? We feel your pain. When you've got dandruff in your hair, it can be embarrassing and annoying to deal with. Dandruff is a common condition that afflicts up to 50% of the world's population, and while it may not be contagious or harmful to your skin and hair, it can certainly bruise your ego and ruin your day. Fortunately, it's also a relatively easy problem to deal with, especially with Lu by your side. I would al

The Causes of Dandruff

The Causes of Dandruff

Dandruff is produced by dead skin cells, but what makes them die? The exact cause remains a bit of a mystery, but there are several possible reasons why you might be seeing those pesky white flakes.

Seborrheic Dermatitis

Dandruff is a mild form of seborrheic dermatitis, a condition that turns skin oily and scaly. As the skin flakes off, it produces dandruff. Seborrheic dermatitis can occur wherever you have oil glands. That means that dandruff can occur not only in your hair but also on your eyebrows, groin, armpits, ears, and even along the sides of your nose.


You've likely heard of dandruff, but you may not be familiar with one of its main causes, a yeast-like fungus called Malassezia. This fungus exists on practically everyone's scalp. It feeds on the natural oils on your scalp, breaking them down and leaving oleic acid on your skin. Many people are sensitive to this acid, and the body's answer to that sensitivity is to increase the speed at which your skin cells renew. This in turn causes flakes as your dead skin cells accumulate.

Oily skin

Oily skin is one of the most common causes of dandruff. Your scalp produces natural oils called sebum, which serves as a protective layer that keeps your scalp hydrated. Excess production of sebum leads to an oily scalp, which in turn causes your skin cells to build up. There are many reasons why you might have oily hair, but one of the effects is the creation of pink, scaly areas on your scalp, which produce dandruff.

Dry skin vs. dry scalp

While dry skin can cause dandruff, dry scalp is something else. Both can cause an itchy, flaky scalp, but there is one main difference. While dandruff is caused by excess oil, dry scalp is the result of loss of moisture. There are many reasons why you might have dry scalp, but one of the main culprits is poor hair care.

Your hair products

It should be no surprise that your shampoo could be causing dandruff. Hair products that contain harmful ingredients can cause irritation or even allergic reactions for your skin. This is known as contact dermatitis, and, you guessed it, it can often result in dandruff.

This is why a dandruff shampoo and conditioner can be so useful in treating dandruff. Regular shampoos struggle to clean out all the buildup that causes dandruff. Medical shampoos have the proper ingredients to do that.

Other skin conditions

Perhaps the most well-known skin conditions that cause dandruff are eczema and psoriasis. If you suffer from either of these conditions, you should consult with a dermatologist, who may prescribe oils, creams, or medicated shampoos to help you treat it.

The Symptoms of Dandruff

The Symptoms of Dandruff

While the causes of dandruff are myriad, the symptoms are relatively few, and unfortunately pretty easy to spot. The most obvious signs are skin flakes on your scalp, hair, shoulders, and other parts of your body where you have hair. An itchy, scaly, or irritated scalp is one of the other common symptoms of this condition. In infants, this scaly scalp is known as cradle cap.

How to Treat Dandruff

How to Treat Dandruff

The good news is that it's pretty easy to control and eliminate dandruff. If you've got mild dandruff, your best bet is a gentle shampoo that will reduce the buildup of sebum and skin cells. Lu's Freedom Shampoo, Control Shampoo, and Rescue Shampoo have all been found to help fight dandruff. Made with clean, natural ingredients and no phthalates, sulfates, parabens, or colorants, it's gentle on your hair and leaves it looking shiny, smooth, and healthy. If you have dry hair, you can also skip a wash day here and there, and use a Lu moisturizing conditioner for extra hydration.

People with severe dandruff should consider a medicated anti-dandruff shampoo. These shampoos, as well as other treatments such as foams, oils, sprays, and ointments, can be prescribed by a dermatologist.

Prescription and over-the-counter dandruff shampoos contain specific medications including:

  • Zinc pyrithione, an antibacterial and antifungal agent.
  • Coal tar, which slows the speed with which skin cells die and flake off the scalp. Note, if you have light-colored hair, shampoos with coal tar may cause discoloration.
  • Salicylic acid, which helps reduce scaling.
  • Selenium sulfide, an antifungal agent. Note that shampoos with selenium sulfide can also cause discoloration.
  • Ketoconazole, an antifungal agent that helps eliminate dandruff-causing fungus.
  • Fluocinolone, a corticosteroid that helps control itching, flaking, and irritation.

Before resorting to medicated shampoos, give Lu's natural and proven shampoos a shot to help you control dandruff. You might just find your new favorite hair care product in the process!