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What is dandruff?

What is dandruff? Dandruff is one of the most common skin conditions, with over 50% of the population suffering at least once in their life. Its most noticeable characteristic is visible flaking of the scalp skin. Normally, shed skin is invisible, but when the scalp becomes irritated by a trigger, our bodies can respond by speeding up the turnover of skin cells. These cells clump together at the scalp surface, becoming visible flakes of dandruff.

Dandruff occurs when these three things come together:
1. Malassezia globosa: Malassezia is a micro-organism that we all carry, which breaks down scalp oils into potentially irritating compounds like oleic acid.
2. Scalp oils: Our naturally-occurring scalp oils, called sebum, provide the basis for Malassezia globosa growth.
3. Individual Skin Reactions: The degree of responsiveness and sensitivity to different substances varies widely from person to person. Exposure to the same substance (in this case, oleic acid) can produce a wide range of reactions across the population, from no response, to extreme response (severe dandruff).

Basically, dandruff is a scalp’s reaction to the presence of irritants. When the scalp becomes irritated, it can respond by speeding up the turnover of skin cells. These cells clump together at the scalp surface, becoming visible flakes of dandruff.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of dandruff include scalp itch, scalp dryness, irritation, redness, and of course, visible skin flaking (typically white flakes, but sometimes flaking can be yellowish).

While dandruff is the commonest cause of these symptoms, there are other conditions, such as psoriasis, which can cause scalp flaking. If you’re using head & shoulders regularly and don’t notice a difference after a few weeks, consult with your doctor.

Solutions for Dandruff

The best way to take control of dandruff flaking is to routinely remove the source of your scalp’s irritation. head & shoulders pyrithione zinc dandruff shampoos and conditioners effectively target a cause of dandruff (not just the symptoms).

The anti-dandruff technology is combined with cleansing and conditioning agents commonly found in beauty shampoos, so they are truly enjoyable to use every day.

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Dandruff questions answered by our experts

Frequently asked questions

Answered by our experts

How to Treat Dandruff and Stop it From Returning?

How to Treat Dandruff and Stop it From Returning?
How to Treat Dandruff and Stop it From Returning?
What are the symptoms of dandruff?
What are the symptoms of dandruff?
Will Head & Shoulders lose effectiveness overtime?
Will Head & Shoulders lose effectiveness overtime?
What causes danduff?
What causes danduff?
Do I have dandruff?
Do I have dandruff?
What can I do about dandruff?
What can I do about dandruff?
What dandruff shampoo should I use?
What dandruff shampoo should I use?
Does my husband have dandruff?
Does my husband have dandruff?

Further Reading

Myths and Revelations

Myth:
  • Dandruff is caused by poor hygiene

    Revelation:
    This is a common misconception. It’s actually our intrinsic susceptibility, sebum (a substance found on our scalps) and a micro-organism that lives on our scalp that really causes dandruff. Of course, while dandruff isn’t simply a result of poor hygiene, washing your hair regularly with h&s can certainly make a big difference.
  • Dandruff is caused by a bad diet

    Revelation:
    Lifestyle factors such as a bad diet, stress and smoking may aggravate a dandruff problem, but they don’t cause it on their own. Making those changes to your lifestyle is a good idea, but you’ll still need to use the right products to treat dandruff.
  • Styling products can cause dandruff

    Revelation:
    No, they can’t – although the hairstyle you choose may make dandruff more visible. Also, some styling products leave a white flake-like residue that only looks like dandruff, so you might mistakenly end up thinking your dandruff is back! The good news is when you use head & shoulders regularly, you’ll be 100% visibly flake free, even when you style. Satisfaction Guaranteed.* *Satisfaction Guaranteed . Mail product and original cash register receipt for up to $12.99 (including S&H) refund. Refund via prepaid card. Not redeemable as cash. Limit 1 refund per name, address, household. Valid 1 year from date of purchase. Call 1-800-843-3543 for details.
  • You can catch dandruff from someone

    Revelation:
    False. Dandruff isn’t an infection, which means it can’t be caught from contact with people with dandruff. In fact, people with dandruff have an individual sensitivity or predisposition to it.
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