You may be wondering “what is dandruff?” at the sight of those white flakes. In the past, dandruff issues, like most other scalp ailments, was just a fact of life—much like a delayed subway train when you’re already running late, or a downpour after you wash your car (no, this is not a 1990s pop song). Thankfully, we’ve come leaps and bounds in the realm of hair care and scalp technology, and we’re that much closer to nipping these problems in the bud. A lot of stigma surrounds the condition, but it’s essential to note that dandruff is quite the everyday malady.
It is reported that 37 percent of adult men and 27 percent of adult women have suffered from dandruff symptoms in the past year. Considered a scalp disorder, dandruff is usually characterized by a flaky, itchy and sometimes scaly scalp, the downsides of which being both medical and aesthetic. Some consider it a double whammy, and rightly so: Not only do you suffer from an uncomfortable (and rather debilitating) skin condition, but others can also see that you are.
As with any disorder, a lot of myths and misconceptions have clouded the truth as to what really causes dandruff to occur. Read on as we separate the fact from fiction and list its most common dandruff issues and really get down to the base of this problem, “What is dandruff?”
What Is Dandruff? Learn the Myths and Facts
MYTH #1: Dandruff is a grave disease.
FACT: Dandruff is, for the most part, an everyday occurrence. It’s primarily caused by an overproduction of malassezia, a fungus and form of yeast that naturally lives on the skin surface of animals and humans. Some people, due to lifestyle choices, certain hair care habits, or even genetics, trigger a spike in the growth of this fungus, which, in affected individuals, burrows into the scalp skin’s top layers and causes a reaction we all know too well: an itchy scalp that sheds its cells more quickly than normal, and as such, produces bigger visible flakes. A dandruff shampoo that effectively targets this fungus—as well as keeps the shaft moisturized—like Dove Dermacare Scalp Dryness and Itch Relief Anti-Dandruff Shampoo and Conditioner is a good place to start your dandruff therapy.
MYTH #2: Is dandruff contagious?
FACT: Contrary to the many old wives’ tales you’ve probably heard, dandruff is not contagious. It is not caused by a bacteria or virus and usually cannot be transmitted from person to person by using contaminated hair tools or brushes.
MYTH #3: Stress causes dandruff.
FACT: We’ll go 50-50 on this one and say that although it doesn’t directly cause dandruff, it may worsen the symptoms. Just as stress elevates certain hormones like cortisol, high stress levels can compromise your immune system and make you prone to yeast infections.
MYTH #4: Hot weather worsens dandruff.
FACT: Quite the contrary—drier, more extreme weather conditions, especially those seen during winter, can make dandruff symptoms worse. This misconception however, may have stemmed from poor hair wash hygiene and oilier, sweatier scalps during the summers that can lead to itchiness and scalp irritation, which can cause loose flakes. More itching and less flaking is also possible, as a dandruff scalp is compromised and can become itchy from sweat. Washing with products that both cleanse and infuse with much-needed moisture and hydration helps keep irritation at bay.
MYTH #5: Dandruff causes hair loss.
FACT: Not directly. Excessive scratching can cause hair breakage due to friction, but the disorder per se is not a primary cause of hair loss. However, keeping your scalp in optimal health is always best to ensure stronger hair growth—best to invest in an anti-dandruff conditioner that also nourishes your hair.