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Dandruff: Know Which Type Is Making Your Scalp Flaky and Itchy

Asian woman dandruff

Have you ever noticed white flakes on your shoulders and clothes that keep reappearing? Does your scalp itch uncontrollably that you can’t help but keep scratching? You could be suffering from a skin condition called dandruff. 

What Causes Dandruff?  

The exact cause varies from person to person. For some, the skin cells on the scalp grow and shed too fast, resulting in dandruff. For others, it can be some sort of fungal infection that causes itchy and flaky skin. You should first find out the exact cause and type troubling you so that the right treatment can be taken. 

What Are The Different Types Of Dandruff? 

Dandruff can be mild or severe, depending on its type. While some can be treated with home remedies, others may require prescription shampoo and medicine. 

Dry skin dandruff

As the name implies, this type of dandruff is caused by the dryness of the scalp. This normally happens during the cold winter months, when the cold weather outside and the indoor heating inside causes the scalp to dry out. Washing your hair in hot water can also lead to this type. Like normal dandruff, the skin becomes itchy and flaky, except there is no excess shedding of flakes. 

Using a moisturising shampoo helps prevent dryness of the scalp. Applying coconut oil to the scalp can also help to relieve dryness and itchiness. 

Oily skin dandruff

The skin naturally produces sebum, an oily substance that moisturises and protects the skin. For some people, more sebum than what is required, resulting in an oily scalp. This excess sebum forms clumps that become dandruff. 

Unlike the previous type, the flakes in oily skin dandruff will be large and have a yellowish tint. Seborrheic dermatitis is an extreme form of oily skin dandruff. 

Fungal dandruff

Malassezia is a type of fungus that is naturally present in human skin. For some people, Malassezia triggers an inflammatory response, and dandruff forms as a result. It can also lead to other skin conditions like eczema

The best way to treat this type is to use shampoos that inhibit the growth of Malassezia. 

What Are the Skin Conditions That Cause Dandruff?

Besides the above types, certain skin conditions can also result in dandruff. This includes:

Seborrheic Dermatitis

This skin condition occurs in people with excess oil production on the scalp. The scalp sheds flaky scales and will have itchy rashes. The main cause of seborrheic dermatitis is not exactly known, but stress, genetics, the presence of a certain type of yeast, and dry and cold weather can trigger this condition. 


Eczema has similar symptoms to dandruff, but the flakes are usually larger. The scalp will also be very itchy, with the occasional occurrence of red rashes. A gentle, moisturising shampoo helps to clear dandruff off the scalp, but a strong topical treatment may be required for a more permanent cure.


This is a skin condition in which the skin cells grow too rapidly, causing thick, scaly patches to form on the scalp and body. Scalp psoriasis presents a fine, powdery flake with a silver colour. 

The best remedy for psoriasis is steroids. Shampoo containing salicylic acid may also be prescribed by the doctor. 

How To Prevent The Occurrence of Dandruff?

Taking care of your scalp and general health helps to prevent it to a great extent. Here are certain self-care tips to prevent the occurrence of dandruff. 

  • Do not scratch your scalp: Through scratching, flakes appear on the scalp. Hence, it is best to avoid scratching your head with your fingernails. Instead, massage the scalp with the meaty part of your fingers to get relief from itchiness while shampooing. 
  • Wash your hair regularly: Washing the hair helps eliminate dirt and excess oil accumulation. It is advisable to wash the hair at least 3 times a week. After washing, dry the hair thoroughly. Try not to tie wet hair.
  • Avoid chemicals: If you have a sensitive scalp, it is best to avoid chemicals like those present in hair dye. These chemicals can kill the good bacteria on the scalp that is required to fight dandruff-causing yeast. Similarly, certain hair sprays and gels can also cause this condition. If you notice dandruff after using these products, it is best to discontinue them. 
  • Manage stress: Stress can affect your health in different ways. It can even trigger skin conditions like dandruff. If you are under extreme stress, consider seeking professional help. Yoga and meditation also help with stress relief. 

Final Thought

Dandruff, on its own, may not cause any major health issues, but can lead to embarrassing situations. The best way to manage it is to understand the type of dandruff you are suffering from, which will help you avail the right treatment and eliminate dandruff. 

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