Dandruff and Hair Loss: Is There a Connection?
Can dandruff cause hair loss? If so, what can you do to prevent it? These are just some of the concerns that people suffering from premature hair loss have as they strive to find a solution. While it is true that some people with dandruff go on to experience hair loss, can we definitively state that dandruff is to blame?
What is Dandruff?
Dandruff is one of the most common scalp conditions in the world today. One of its symptoms includes white flakes that appear on your skull. These white flakes tend to fall off on to your shoulders and can be seen if you are wearing a dark shirt. The flakes come from a superficial skin layer made out of dead skin cells and often result in itching. Because dandruff causes, vigorous, sometimes even violent scratching, some people believe that it might lead to hair loss.
Does Dandruff Lead to Hair Loss?
Because millions of people the world over suffer from hair loss, it is only logical that several studies would be conducted in this field trying to figure out the various causes. However, studies dedicated to finding a link between dandruff and hair loss have concluded that dandruff does not cause hair loss, at least not directly.
The same studies show that it is the constant itching and sometimes aggressive scratching as a result of dandruff that causes hair loss in some people. When you scratch your scalp constantly, you inadvertently weaken the roots of your hair thus eventually causing them to fall off.
While, on the surface, it might sound as though there is a simple solution to this problem (get a cure for dandruff and in the same breath stop itching, scratching and hair loss) the truth is that more often than not it is not that simple. There is a condition called “dermatitis” that is very closely related to dandruff and hair loss.
In fact, it is believed that people who have dandruff and suffer from hair loss have some form of dermatitis. This is one of those scalp conditions that cause both problems (dandruff and hair loss). So, unless you know for sure that you do not have dermatitis, simply getting rid of your dandruff might not save you from hair loss.
The Insidious Dandruff-Hair Loss Cycle
Granted, these studies claim that dandruff does not directly cause hair loss. However, it is one of the symptoms of dandruff that leads to an increased possibility of hair loss. On the other hand, you should know that there are certain chemicals and shampoos meant to treat hair loss that cause dandruff which in turn cause itching, which in turn encourages hair loss and the cycle continues. The main problem here is a chemical called “minoxidil” that is a mainstay ingredient in shampoos and other hair damage treatment solutions.
As far as vicious cycles go, this has to be one of the most damaging one where hair loss is concerned. However, that does not mean that you should sit back and let dandruff take over. There are ways through which you can prevent both dandruff development as well as hair loss in turn.
How to Prevent Dandruff and Hair Loss
The very first thing you need to do here is to find a way to get rid of the dandruff or whatever is causing it. That is a very important part of the equation. The following steps should help you deal with your dandruff and hair loss problem adequately.
Get a Definitive Diagnosis
Several things could be causing your dandruff, some of which include things like underlying skin conditions and your general hair washing chemicals as well as habits. You may never be sure what is causing your dandruff,so it is imperative to get a definitive diagnosis from a qualified dermatologist.
Some of the things that your dermatologist will check for include:
- Natural dry skin: if you have naturally dry skin that often results in flaking without inflammation or redness
- Malassezia: this is a fungus that is found on most people’s scalps. In some cases, this fungus may irritate the scalp as well as the growth of an extra layer of skin cells. When these skin cells die off, they go on to form dandruff
- Dermatitis: we already mentioned how detrimental this could be to the health of your scalp as well as hair. Your dermatologist will be able to tell you definitively if you have any form of dermatitis and what you can do about it
As soon as you have figured out what condition your scalp is in then, you can go ahead and start finding solutions for that condition.
Switch your Shampoo
Your shampoo and other hair products could be causing your dandruff. One of the best ways to eliminate this issue is to use a medicated shampoo. Medicated shampoos contain any of the following ingredients:
- pyrinthione zinc
- selenium sulfide
- salicylic acid
The best-medicated shampoos put an end to the vicious cycle we talked about earlier. In the same breath, you should strive to avoid any and all irritating hair products such as bleach, formaldehyde, and artificial fragrances. Many of these products have the potential to cause “Contact Dermatitis.”
One of the most important things to do is to find natural ways to add moisture to your scalp. Dandruff is dried out skin cells that died and came about as a result of having an under-hydrated scalp. Additionally, some of the recommended shampoos can cause your scalp to dry up more, especially the medicated ones with salicylic acid as an ingredient.
You can try frequently massaging your scalp with natural coconut oil. Not only is this highly moisturizing but it also contains some antifungal properties that protect your scalp from developing dandruff which in turn keeps you from scratching and as a result keeps your hair from falling off.