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  5. Dandruff & Hair Loss: How Are They Really Connected?

We all follow so many fancy skin care routines. But are you handling the skin on your scalp with the same care? Now, you must be wondering why we are asking this question. That’s because your scalp health is vital for keeping conditions like dandruff at bay.

Dandruff, when left untreated, can damage your hair follicles. The constant itching paves the way for scratching and causes your hair to fall out. Below, we will explain the entire correlation between dandruff and hair loss and what to do about it. Read on.

Does Dandruff Cause Hair Loss?

Dandruff [1] is a skin condition that causes white or yellow flakes on the scalp, which fall off on the shoulders.

Dandruff directly does not cause hair loss. The itching due to dandruff impacts the hair follicles, which can lead to a certain amount of hairfall [2]. Loss of 50-100 strands of hair on a daily basis is considered normal. If you have excessive hair loss, you will need medical intervention.

Dandruff can increase hair fall in people with androgenetic alopecia [3] (male pattern baldness and female pattern baldness).

What Conditions Can Cause Both Dandruff And Hair Loss?

First things first, get a diagnosis of your scalp condition. Is your dandruff due to improper washing or is there an underlying medical condition? Talk to your dermatologist to understand the cause of your dandruff.

Dandruff and hair loss both can be caused by one of the following:

1. Scalp Psoriasis

This is an autoimmune disorder [4] in which the body's immune system attacks its own system. What follows is an overgrowth of cells on the scalp. Psoriasis [5] causes symptoms like red, raised skin patches with silvery flakes.

2. Ringworm

Ringworm [6] or tinea capitis is a fungal infection that causes itchiness, dry flakes and hair fall.

3. Folliculitis Decalvans

[7] It causes itchy, red patches. People often confuse it with dandruff due to the itchy flakes. This is an inflammatory skin condition that destroys hair follicles.

4. Lichen Planopilaris

[8] This causes dry and flaky rash on the scalp and can make hair to fall off in clumps. It is more common in women.

Dandruff alone can be caused due to one of the following.

  • Seborrheic dermatitis, in which oily, itchy and irritated skin presents itself as flakes on the scalp [9].
  • Fungus like Malassezia [10] (yeast) that lives on the oil on your scalp may cause dandruff. This fungus is sometimes triggered by stress which weakens the immune system and makes your body susceptible to infections.
  • Contact dermatitis [11], which is caused due to hair care products like shampoo, gel or conditioner, can irritate your scalp and cause flaking and itching.
  • Improper washing of hair can cause the oily skin to flake off.
  • People with a compromised immune system (those with HIV [12]) are likely to have dandruff.
  • Dry skin may leave small flakes on the scalp.
  • Certain male hormones cause dandruff in men.

Once you know what's causing your dandruff, you can treat the condition effectively.

How To Treat & Prevent Hair Loss Due To Dandruff ?

The key to treating and preventing hair loss due to dandruff lies in eliminating the itching and scratching so as to protect the hair follicles.

1. Medicated Shampoos

Switch to medicated shampoos [13] containing one of these ingredients if you have mild dandruff:

  • Pyrithione Zinc
  • Salicylic Acid
  • Ketoconazole
  • Coal Tar
  • Selenium Sulfide

While using anti-dandruff shampoos, make sure to follow instructions on the bottle. Some shampoos may need to be left on the scalp for a few minutes in order to be effective.

Word Of Caution:

Coal tar and selenium sulfide can cause discoloration of hair. Consult your doctor before trying any new product.

If your scalp is allergic to chemicals, use herbal shampoos which contain medicinal properties for dandruff hair loss. Look for ingredients like:

  • Neem
  • Aloe vera
  • Reetha
  • Bhringraj
  • Turmeric
  • Rosemary oil
  • Mint
  • Amla
  • Tulsi
  • Tea tree oil
  • Lemon extracts

2. Moisturize

Dry scalp can be one of the causes of dandruff. Ingredients like salicylic acid [14] in anti-dandruff shampoos can dry out your scalp. Massage your scalp using coconut oil to improve blood circulation to the scalp. Coconut oil has antifungal properties [15]. Include a conditioner that suits your hair to add moisture.


If your dandruff is due to an oily scalp, stay away from oiling your scalp too much.

3. Steer Clear Of Harsh Hair Care

Sulfates [16], preservatives, fragrances and dyes in your hair care products can irritate the scalp and cause contact dermatitis. Refrain from using harsh products and switch to gentle hair care.

4. Manage Stress

While stress directly can't cause dandruff, it hampers your immune system and makes your scalp prone to fungus. Manage stress with yoga, meditation or deep breathing exercises.

5. Home Remedies For Dandruff Hair Loss

Even though home remedies for dandruff hair loss are not scientific, people have found them beneficial.

A. Tea Tree Oil

Mix a few drops of tea tree oil with a carrier oil like coconut oil and apply it on your scalp and hair. Tea tree oil has anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties.

B. Aloe Vera

Aloe vera is anti-inflammatory and extremely soothing on the scalp. Cut open the leaf of aloe vera and remove the juice. Apply this on your scalp, leave it on for 15 minutes and wash off.

C. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar encourages shedding of dead skin cells, fights fungus and balances the pH of your scalp. Combine apple cider vinegar with your oil or shampoo, or dilute it with water for a final rinse after shampooing.

Will Hair Loss From Dandruff Grow Back?

Once the dandruff is rectified, hair loss can be controlled. The lost hair will grow back. But you need to be patient for a few weeks to see new strands. Good hair care routine, balanced diet, home remedies and right hair care products can help in hair growth.

Does Anti Dandruff Shampoo Cause Hair Loss?

Anti-dandruff shampoos contain ingredients like selenium sulfide [17] that may contribute to further hair loss. They are potent ingredients aimed at killing the fungus on your scalp. Such ingredients are no harm when used in low concentrations for limited duration. Prolonged usage of such shampoos can increase hair loss.

Is Hair Loss Due To Dandruff Temporary Or Permanent?

Hair loss due to dandruff is not permanent. Once you treat the dandruff, your hair follicles are restored and hair grows back.

Wrapping Up

Numerous scalp conditions can be mistaken for dandruff. Though not a direct cause for hair fall, dandruff can accelerate hair fall. If you have extreme scalp itching or hair that falls out in clumps, consult your dermatologist without a delay. Most importantly, love yourself despite all the physical issues.

Begin By Knowing Your Skin

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