You lean back for a moment’s relaxation, you happen to look down, and then you see them. White flakes drifting down and coming to rest on the shoulder of your dark pinstripe suit.
The unmistakable sign of dandruff. You dust them away in a hurry and hope no one saw you.
Then, you start to panic. You remember some old wives tale linking dandruff to poor hygiene and you’re wondering what that says about you. You feel like they’re little spotlights spelling out a warning sign that says “stay away!”
The situation is bad enough for anyone, but it can cause your heart to skip a beat if you’re already worried about hair loss. Maybe you’re already struggling with thinning hair and wonder if there is a link.
Maybe you haven’t necessarily noticed any hair loss but you worry about the long-term implications of a sick scalp and know what it can lead to. Either way, you need answers. Is your dandruff going to make you bald one day?
To really answer the question, I need to clarify a few facts about dandruff. It isn’t really as simple as can dandruff cause hair loss or not.
It is determining if you really have true dandruff or a look alike. Then, you have to determine what that means for your scalp.
Explaining True Dandruff
True dandruff, or seborrheic dermatitis as it is known in the medical community, is the white and sometimes yellowish scaly patches, or plaque, of skin which “flake” off.
It can happen anywhere on the body, but is most common and most obvious when it occurs on the scalp. The skin beneath the plaque may become red, but frequently does not.
Dandruff is a skin condition, even though many people think of it as a hair condition. It normally occurs when the skin is over producing oil or when there is an excessive buildup of oil on the skin.
Skin experts believe yeast, specifically the malessizia yeast, become trapped within the oil and stays on the skin for prolonged periods.
The yeast and oil combination agitates the skin. The skin will quickly become agitated and the skin cells on the outer layers of the epidermis will begin to swell. This causes the “plaque” build up which flakes off and appears as dandruff.
In other parts of the body that are small but may collect excess oil, like an ear or around a belly button, dandruff incidents are typically small and easily controlled.
Sometimes they need very little treatment. However, dandruff on your head can cover the entire scalp making the condition very noticeable and adding psychological distress to the physical problem.
Dandruff affected skin can be quite itchy. However, scratching it can actually drive the yeast further into the skin making the agitation greater and more difficult to treat.
Furthermore, your fingernails will cause micro-tears in the skin opening yourself up to a secondary infection. No matter how bad your itchy scalp may irritate you, it is important that you resist scratching.
If the true dandruff goes unchecked, the yeast infection will penetrate deeper and deeper into the skin. Just as in eczema, hives, psoriasis, and acne-if you let it go too long it will leave scars. The problem is these scars will be on your scalp.
They will close up and misshape hair follicles. This will lead to hair loss and could end up causing outright baldness. FORTUNATELY, most people get the yeast infection treated long before it reaches this stage.
Most dermatologist, skin doctors, agree that true dandruff is a genetic skin ailment exacerbated by external factors such as stress or environment, much like the conditions of eczema or hives.
In this case, the body has a genetic trait which forces extra oil production. It is even believed there may be a genetic susceptibility to yeast.
People with true dandruff have suffered from the problem all of their lives. As babies, they may have gotten cradle cap. As kids they may have had episodes of dandruff during every growth spurt and non-stop through puberty.
As an adult, it may always be a mild problem and will become more moderate during periods of stress or when you simply aren’t caring for yourself the way you should.
This means you will always have to be diligent to quickly treat a flare up, especially if you are worried about losing your hair.
Typical treatment for seborrheic dermatitis is rather simple. There are essentially two steps: eliminate excess oil and kill the yeast.
There are several shampoos tailored to dandruff sufferers with medicinal ingredients like selenium, salicyclic acid, and ketoconazole which are aimed at killing the yeast but also contain a high suds detergent to remove oil.
There are natural alternatives which include ingredients like zinc, coal tar, and tea tree oil. However, it is important to know that the safe dosage of these cannot kill the yeast as quick as the commercial medicines which may leave you frustrated.
So, this may be one of those times when I recommend a more mainstream approach. When the seborrheic dermatitis flares, these medicinal shampoos must be used every day. If it gets very severe, the patient may need steroid injections or salves.
Once the flare is gone, the dandruff sufferer really only needs the shampoo once or twice a week to maintain a healthy scalp. Otherwise, a milder and more natural shampoo can be used.
DHT Dandruff Is Not True Dandruff, But Is Still A Serious Hair Threat
Okay, that is true dandruff. It is a chronic case of seborrheic dermatitis which you fight throughout your lifespan. It can cause hair fall and it could even be permanent, but do you really think that is what you have?
There’s a quick way to find out.
Have you struggled with dandruff your whole life? When you were in your peak health, did you have flakes falling on your shoulders? Probably not.
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while and following The Hair Loss Black Book, I’m betting this is a part of a long line of symptoms which began when your health started to fail and your DHT started to rise.
If this condition is new, or only a year or two old, then you DO NOT have true dandruff. It probably showed up about the time you realized your hair was falling out from DHT overload.
This means you do not have a genetic susceptibility to seborrheic dermatitis. Unfortunately, although the problem is not in your genetic code, you currently have the same problem.
If you suffer from male pattern baldness, you have a greasy scalp. The DHT inflammation within your skin is squeezing the hair follicles and forcing oil production. You may not be able to grow hair, but you can really produce a lot of oil.
The problem with dandruff occurs when you encounter yeast. The microscopic organisms of yeast, even the dandruff causing malessizia yeast, can be found everywhere around us.
Every surface you touch, even some you just cleaned, have yeast present. This includes the surface of your skin.
It is almost impossible to avoid yeast. Just as in a person with genetically true dandruff, the yeast gets trapped on your scalp within the oil build up.
If the oil is an ever-present problem, the yeast is allowed to grow and thrive on the surface of your scalp. The scalp becomes infected and the plaque scales build up.
Suddenly you have dandruff. Your scalp is most likely already swollen from toxic DHT sickness. This makes it more susceptible to the yeast infection and can make dandruff more severe.
Your hair follicles are already weakened from the DHT attack, so this secondary attack does have the potential to hasten the permanent death of the hair.
The difference is this is NOT a chronic problem for you. Well, in truth, it will be a chronic problem for you as long as your body suffers from chronic DHT overload.
However, if you once had a thick, lush head of hair and were never plagued with dandruff, this does not have to be a chronic problem for you.
This is just another symptom of your DHT. It is another problem that will go away once you correct your DHT issue.
As always, I believe The Hair Loss Black Book can help you correct that problem, but it is something which requires your commitment to change your situation.
In the meantime, you need to treat the dandruff. Using the same medicated shampoos for seborrheic dermatitis will help stop your current flare up.
However, you do not have a genetic susceptibility to yeast so you do not need to use the shampoos full-time. Instead, you have to make your main priority removing the excess oil.
Excess oil causes a whole host of problems. Not only does it trap yeast, but it also traps dirt, old skin cells, and bacteria on your scalp leaving you more prone to hair killing infections. It clogs up hair follicles, further choking the life out of your thinning hair.
A healthy, oil-controlled scalp is an important part of regrowing your hair. That is why I have offered several solutions in The Hair Loss Black Book you can use to eliminate excess oil.
The scalp massages and treatments I have included will help break down the oil build up on your scalp and wash it away. They will also help tame the excess oil production, helping you stay dandruff free while your body heals from DHT overload.
A Dandruff Lookalike And A Hair Loss Threat
Now you have learned a lot about true dandruff and how it can impact a male pattern baldness sufferer. You ought to be able to determine if you have this kind of dandruff and if it will cause you to lose your hair.
However, there are a lot of fake cases of dandruff which are not related to genetics or DHT which can also have a serious implication regarding hair loss.
What is a fake case of dandruff? It is something which demonstrates dandruff-like symptoms but is not caused by a yeast infection. The scalp will have a plaque buildup, with or without swelling, which looks like dandruff.
The most common dandruff lookalike is a scalp fungal infection, the most common being piedra and ringworm, also known as tineas capitis.
(Don’t worry, ringworm doesn’t mean you have worms on your scalp. It is a reference to the circular pattern of the rash related to the infection.)
The primary fungus which affects the scalp is the same fungus which causes athlete’s foot, nail bed yellowing, and jock itch. It is highly contagious and can be easily spread just by touching.
On the scalp, the fungus has an ability to attach itself to the keratin within your hair shaft. Keratin is the primary ingredient for hair. As the fungus grows on the hair, it erodes its host.
The hair thins and weakens. In most cases, the hair will typically break off at the scalp giving the appearance of baldness or hair that has worn thin from friction.
Fungal infections, like ringworm, typically begin as a small bump which you may mistake as a pimple. Over the next few days, it will spread into a small, itchy rash. This rash will cause plenty of flakes. Eventually, it will erupt into blisters which ooze.
Soon after, the hair will begin to break off and appear to fall out. The process is very quick, which helps you recognize and correctly identify this dandruff lookalike.
It is important that you look at the broken strands of hair. If you do not see a root ball attached to the hair, you are only losing hair at the surface and not within the follicle which will also help you diagnose your problem.
Fugal infections are best treated medicinally. There are some homeopathic alternatives, but the longer the fungus grows the more hair it will thin.
It is better to go to your doctor and get a 1-2 week treatment, usually a cream or a shot, and get rid of the fungus as soon as possible.
The good news is the hair will grow back once the fungus is cured, as long as the infection was cured quickly before it began to scar the skin. Treatment is simple and has no dangerous side effects.
If you think you have a fungal infection on your scalp, don’t hesitate to have a doctor take a look at it.
Unnaturally Caused Dandruff Means A Very Natural Problem
Unnaturally caused dandruff sounds a little funny doesn’t it? That is because I’m actually referring to the condition which is commonly mistaken for dandruff.
As in most things, a misconception can frequently have consequences if it isn’t corrected and it is my job to help you sort out fact from fiction.
If you asked most people on the street, they would describe dandruff as a dry, itchy scalp. The scalp becomes so dry it causes skin to flake off, the same as it would on your hands or arms if they were exceedingly dry.
They might compare it to the dry, itchy, and flakey skin you get when you have sunburn.
While this is not true dandruff, they are right when they compare it to sunburn. These extremely dry, itchy, and flakey conditions are happening because the scalp has been “burned”.
If you have this type of dandruff you may not feel particularly burned, but I promise you that is the problem.
Hair color, hair drying, stringent shampoos, excessive hair treatments, shampooing multiple times a day, swimming in chemical treated water, sun exposure, smoke, smog, and about a million other external forces take a toll on your scalp.
Typically, they erode away your skin’s natural oils faster than it can produce new oil. This leaves the skin dry and vulnerable.
Itching and flakiness is the first sign. For many people, it is the only sign. For those who are less fortunate, the lack of oil means a lack of conditioned skin. Unconditioned skin is more likely to get infected from fungus and bacteria.
Furthermore, you are more likely to scratch it which, as I explained before, tears the skin almost ensuring an eventual infection.
Most importantly, unconditioned skin cannot grow healthy hair. The oils in your hair follicles not only soften your skin, they soften your hair. This gives it the soft luster it needs to bend and flex as you move.
When the oil is not present in sufficient quantities, the hair becomes coarse and brittle. Coarse and brittle hair cannot move with you or endure stress. It breaks off, sometimes along the length of it, but sometimes right at the scalp.
All in all, it gives you a look of thinning, unhealthy hair. This can be just as hard on your self esteem as it would be if you were truly balding. Fortunately, there is a simple solution: stop burning your scalp.
I’m not telling you to turn into a Puritan who never wears product or doesn’t spend a day at the beach without a hat on. I’m telling you to balance your scalp.
If your style and lifestyle are taking a toll on your scalp, make sure you are giving your scalp plenty of R&R.
Moisturizing shampoos and conditioners are an easy way to make up for the wear and tear on your scalp. When you can, give your scalp a break from the heavy treatment.
If you have no plans for a Sunday, you don’t need to apply the extra mouse and blow dry a perfect coif just to sit on the couch all day.
If you are hanging around outside with friends but have no one in particular to impress, try putting on a hat for an hour or so every now and then.
Unnaturally caused dryness and flakes are easily corrected. Skin has an amazing ability to heal itself. It will bounce back if you just give it a chance.
In The Long Run, All Dandruff Comes Down To Scalp Health
A yeast infection, a DHT oil overload, a fungal infection, or scalp burn all have one thing in common. They happen when your scalp isn’t healthy.
Whether it is a quirk of your DNA weakening your scalp or something external which attacked your scalp, the solution is the same. If you nurse your scalp back to health you will have a better chance of eliminating your dandruff and saving your hair.
As I mentioned earlier, The Hair Loss Black Book has a lot of scalp-health solutions which will help you no matter what type of dandruff you suffer from.
The scalp massage techniques will stimulate blood flow in the scalp, whisking healing nutrients to the areas where they are needed most.
Scalp massage will also help loosen oil and debris build up (including fungal and yeast build up) and you will be able to more easily rinse it away.
The scalp treatments will help soothe your ailing scalp. Ingredients like aloe, tea tree, and other herbs have medicinal properties which fight all types of infections. Furthermore, they can reduce inflammation and stimulate new, healthy cell growth.
Most importantly, scalp masques and daily treatments add “clean” moisture to the scalp which will condition, soften, and strengthen the skin.
However, they are light enough to be thoroughly absorbed into the skin and not lock yeast, fungus, and other contaminants on the vulnerable surface of the scalp. You get all the benefits of skin oil with none of the drawbacks.
I highly encourage you to check out the Scalp Health section of The Hair Loss Black Book. If you have come to my blog, it is probably because you are worried about a problem on your scalp.
Whether your problem is dandruff or a lookalike problem, the Hair Loss Black Book can teach you how to keep your scalp healthy and your hair growing strong.