The Complete Guide to Everything You
Wanted to Know About Dandruff

Treatment

Remedies

Prevention

Our skin cells have the unique ability to regenerate. When this happens, the old, dead cells are pushed out to the surface of the scalp. For those who have dandruff, the rate of skin renewal occurs faster than what is considered to be normal and results in the excessive shedding of dead skin cells.

These dead skin cells are clearly visible on the scalp as well as on the shoulders, especially on dark colored clothes. Also, let’s not forget the fact that they also suffer from itchiness and a sore, red scalp, which add to their woes. These clearly visible signs of dandruff, therefore, cause major embarrassment when they step out in the public.

In short, dandruff is a menace that wreaks havoc on people who suffer from it.

Although a large number of people all over the world suffer from dandruff and there are many commercial products available for its treatment, we seldom know or try to know its root causes. This comprehensive guide digs deeper and answers some of the common questions about dandruff.

Dandruff is not a new disease known to mankind. This is evident from the origin of the word, which dates back to 1545! While the origin of the first part of the word ‘dand’ is not known, the second part ‘huff’ or ‘hurf’ is derived from Archaic Norse word meaning scab, Proto-Germanic ‘hreufaz’ or ‘hreubaz’, meaning rough or scabby and Archaic English ‘hrēofla’, meaning leprosy or leper.

There’s another definition of dandruff, which is said to be a combination of the Anglo-Saxon word ‘tan’ meaning tetter and ‘droff’ meaning ‘dirty’.

Dandruff in babies or infants of 2 weeks-8 months of age, is known as Cradle Cap. The entire scalp becomes covered with crusty, yellow and brown scales, which may spread to the eyelids, around the nose and the groin area. The scales can lead to itchiness in these areas and scratching them causes inflammation and infection, which may be accompanied bleeding. However, as severe as Cradle Cap may appear to be, it is usually harmless. The condition is temporary and vanishes within weeks or months, depending upon several factors.

What are the differences between Dandruff and Dry Scalp? What are the differences between Dandruff and Lice? What are the differences between Dandruff and Product Buildup?

Dandruff Dry Scalp Lice Product Buildup

Dandruff is the excessive shedding of dead skin cells from the scalp.

It is a chronic condition caused due to several factors, but mainly due to overgrowth of a yeast, Malassezia. It can cause itching and flaking of the scalp.

Dandruff can also occur at places other than the scalp such as eyebrows, ears, nose and chest, the areas where oil secretion glands are more active.

It is normal for the scalp to shed skin cells regularly. But when this occurs at a rapid pace, it can cause the scalp to become dry. This is Dry Scalp.

The scalp becomes dry owing to a number of reasons, including extreme cold, excessive shampooing that strips the hair of its natural oils.

Head lice are parasites that infest the scalp. There are three forms of head lice – Eggs or Nits, which appear as tiny white grains between the hair, Nymphs or young lice that are tan-colored and fully grown Adult Lice that are size of a sesame seed.

The lice can crawl onto outfits, combs, hair accessories, beddings etc.

Buildup is caused by excessive hair product usage and the way hair and the scalp are cleansed.

More specifically, buildup occurs when the hair is not washed properly or at regular intervals and owing to the accumulation of hair care products, dirt, dust and other foreign particles on the scalp.

Large, yellowish-white, oily flakes of dead skin that are visible on the scalp and shoulders are tell-tale signs of dandruff. Dandruff may lead to itchiness and redness of the scalp.

Dry scalp can lead to smaller, drier flakes of dead skin cells accompanied by irritation, redness and itchiness of the scalp.

The flakes are smaller and whitish in color.

Head lice feed on human blood. Therefore, they are close to the scalp and feed off it. The saliva of these parasites during feeding causes the irritation and itchiness.

People with head lice can also feel a tiny insect is moving around on their scalp. They can part the hair and check for Nits, Nymphs and Adult Lice.

Head lice doesn’t cause flaking.

Buildup on the scalp is caused by overstyling or the over use of hair care products including shampoos, conditioners, hair sprays and hair gels etc. When the scalp is not cleansed properly, the products remain on the scalp and clog the pores. This leads to itching, soreness and flaking.

Dandruff can also be triggered off by several factors, which include but are not limited to:

  • Puberty or Adolescence
  • Dry skin
  • Oil-prone scalp and hair
  • The absence of or poor scalp hygiene
  • Psoriasis and eczema
  • Allergic reaction or sensitivity to certain products
  • Poor diet
  • Genetics
  • Fatigue or stress
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Poor health or chronic illness
  • Personal habits (Place link on this topic in the guide: What are the habits that lead to dandruff?)
  • Extreme weather conditions
  • Using shampoos/conditioners way too often: No matter what the advertisements say, using shampoos or conditioners on a daily basis can prove to be detrimental to your hair. They are laced with chemicals and can damage the structure of your hair follicles if overused.
  • Using too much of styling products: Hairstylists may wax eloquent about styling products and how they prove to be the elixir for your hair. For instance, gels, mousse, pomades, hair sprays, leave-in conditioners are some of the products that may make your hair look fantastic and get rid of a potentially bad hair day, but in the long run, these strip your hair off its natural oils. Also, let’s not forget the fact that product buildup can also potentially damage the hair follicles and slow down hair growth. If you have to use the products at all, use them sparingly.
  • Using cheap products: When products are expensive, know that they are expensive for a reason. By buying cheap products as an alternative, you are going to cause potential damage to your hair. This is owing to the fact that cheaper products may not be tested for effectiveness and contain additional chemicals, scents and preservatives, which can take a toll on the hair follicles as well as the hair shaft. This often accelerates hair fall and subsequently, hair loss.
  • Over-brushing hair: There is a common notion that says brushing your hair 100 times every day helps distribute natural oils from your scalp to the end of the hair and makes it appear shiny. Even teasing the hair too much for creating different hairstyles can cause irreparable damage to your hair.
  • Brushing wet hair: Wet hair is more prone to breakage. Therefore, make it a point to never brush your hair when it is wet. Instead, gently comb it with a wide-toothed comb or run your fingers through them to detangle. Don’t use a fine-toothed comb or brush it while the hair is still wet. You must also avoid vigorously rubbing your hair dry with a towel.
  • Using extreme heat: Blow-drying, straight-ironing, perming and curling your hair requires the use of styling tools that generate extreme heat. This damages the hair follicles.
  • Using chemical treatments: Chemically treating your hair with hair dyes, hair colors and other products is also one of the leading reasons of hair fall, hair thinning and hair loss.
  • Tight hairstyles: It goes without saying that tight hairstyles such as ponytails, braids, pigtails etc. pull the hair shafts vigorously and damage the follicles. The same holds true for using hair accessories such as elastic hair ties, barrettes and hair pins, which pull your hair at the shaft.
  • Unclean scalp: An unhealthy scalp is the playground of a number of infections and diseases. This may not result in hair fall or hair loss directly, but can lead to the buildup itchy patches on the scalp, which causes infection and inflammation of follicles. This infection and inflammation of the follicles stall hair growth.
  • Eating unhealthy: There is no definite proof that eating unhealthy promotes hair fall or hair loss. However, eating healthy may do the opposite i.e. promote healthy hair growth!
Dandruff Dry Scalp Lice Product Buildup

Dandruff is the excessive shedding of dead skin cells from the scalp.

It is a chronic condition caused due to several factors, but mainly due to overgrowth of a yeast, Malassezia. It can cause itching and flaking of the scalp.

Dandruff can also occur at places other than the scalp such as eyebrows, ears, nose and chest, the areas where oil secretion glands are more active.

It is normal for the scalp to shed skin cells regularly. But when this occurs at a rapid pace, it can cause the scalp to become dry. This is Dry Scalp.

The scalp becomes dry owing to a number of reasons, including extreme cold, excessive shampooing that strips the hair of its natural oils.

Head lice are parasites that infest the scalp. There are three forms of head lice – Eggs or Nits, which appear as tiny white grains between the hair, Nymphs or young lice that are tan-colored and fully grown Adult Lice that are size of a sesame seed.

The lice can crawl onto outfits, combs, hair accessories, beddings etc.

Buildup is caused by excessive hair product usage and the way hair and the scalp are cleansed.

More specifically, buildup occurs when the hair is not washed properly or at regular intervals and owing to the accumulation of hair care products, dirt, dust and other foreign particles on the scalp.

Large, yellowish-white, oily flakes of dead skin that are visible on the scalp and shoulders are tell-tale signs of dandruff. Dandruff may lead to itchiness and redness of the scalp.

Dry scalp can lead to smaller, drier flakes of dead skin cells accompanied by irritation, redness and itchiness of the scalp.

The flakes are smaller and whitish in color.

Head lice feed on human blood. Therefore, they are close to the scalp and feed off it. The saliva of these parasites during feeding causes the irritation and itchiness.

People with head lice can also feel a tiny insect is moving around on their scalp. They can part the hair and check for Nits, Nymphs and Adult Lice.

Head lice doesn’t cause flaking.

Buildup on the scalp is caused by overstyling or the over use of hair care products including shampoos, conditioners, hair sprays and hair gels etc. When the scalp is not cleansed properly, the products remain on the scalp and clog the pores. This leads to itching, soreness and flaking.