What Causes Dandruff?print
We need to consider three factors when defining dandruff: our intrinsic susceptibility, sebum (a substance found on our scalps) and a micro-organism called Malassezia.
For the majority of us, dandruff problems begin with the onset of puberty. (If there are flakes visible in a child’s hair before puberty it’s worth consulting your doctor as it may indicate a more serious condition).
During puberty, our bodies start producing much more testosterone. This hormone affects more than just hair growth.
Testosterone can also have a dramatic effect upon the production of sebum, an entirely natural substance. Sebum is a greasy substance that protects our scalps and makes it difficult for micro-organisms to live there.
However, one organism has adapted to live off sebum. It’s entirely natural that it lives on the areas of our bodies where our skin contains more “natural oils”, like the scalp.
The microorganism produces oleic acid which it deposits on our scalps. The way our bodies respond to this causes irritation of the top layer of skin and this leads to an increased turnover of skin cells. They also clump together so we see them as flakes of dandruff.
So that’s basically what dandruff is: a scalp reaction that leads to a speeding up of your natural cycle of skin replenishment.