What Is Dandruff? How to Get Rid of It

Do you notice white flakes following you everywhere you go, especially after scratching your head? If so, you likely have dandruff. These small bits of dry skin are shed from your scalp, causing itchiness and feelings of embarrassment for many. But if you relate to this feeling, know you’re not alone. In fact, approximately 50% of the general adult global population lives with dandruff.

What Is Dandruff?

Dandruff is a common condition that causes pieces of dead skin to form in your hair, due to a flaking scalp. If your scalp is itchy at times or you have experienced dry (or greasy) scales on your scalp, you may have dandruff.

Although most people have heard of dandruff, it is not as easy to diagnose as you may think. That’s because this condition overlaps with other skin conditions, including chronic eczema. However, the telltale sign of dandruff is the white flakes that are often seen loose in your hair. 

What Causes Dandruff

There are several possible explanations for what causes dandruff, including:

  • For those with severe dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis may be to blame. This is a form of eczema that impacts areas that secrete the most oil. If you have oily skin, you’re more prone to dandruff. This is because yeast feeds on scalp oils, which may be perceived as an irritant by your body. To react, your scalp may produce more skin cells, causing dandruff.
  • Contact dermatitis may also be the culprit, which is a skin irritation caused by an irritant or allergy. In most cases, contact dermatitis will occur because of certain hair products or hair dyes.
  • Dry skin can also quickly lead to dandruff, which is why your symptoms may worsen during the winter months. Your shampooing habits can also make things worse. Washing infrequently can lead to a buildup of oil, worsening your condition.
  • Age and sex both affect dandruff production. Common during puberty, dandruff generally peaks around the age of 20 and isn’t overly common once you are 50 and older. Men are also more frequently affected by dandruff, likely because of androgen hormone levels, including testosterone.

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Dandruff vs. Scalp Psoriasis

When looking up your symptoms, you may encounter a condition known as scalp psoriasis. Understanding the difference between dandruff and scalp psoriasis means you can treat your symptoms accordingly. So, how do you know if you have psoriasis or dandruff?

As discussed above, dandruff is a common skin issue that causes noticeable white flakes to fall from your scalp. It isn’t typically serious and can often be remedied at home. In comparison, psoriasis is a chronic condition with no cure and often causes great discomfort. Unlike dandruff, psoriasis is considered an autoimmune disease. Patches often surface on your scalp, elbows, knees, and back.

If you’re concerned about your symptoms or the severity of your condition, it’s recommended that you seek an expert opinion. This will allow you to get a proper diagnosis to seek the best possible treatment plan. 

Dandruff vs. Other Scalp Conditions

Differentiating dandruff from other scalp conditions like psoriasis or eczema is crucial. Here is the different scalp conditions:

  • Dandruff Characteristics: Typically presents as white flakes and itching.
  • Psoriasis Indicators: Causes thicker, silver-coloured scales on the scalp.
  • Eczema Symptoms: Often leads to intense redness and irritation.
  • Cause of Dandruff: It usually stems from a fungus called Malassezia.
  • Psoriasis Nature: An autoimmune condition, different from dandruff.

Home Remedies for Dandruff

Natural remedies abound for dandruff control. Ingredients like tea tree oil and coconut oil have antifungal properties that combat the Malassezia fungus. Aloe vera soothes the scalp, reducing dryness and irritation. Apple cider vinegar’s acidity can help balance the scalp’s pH, discouraging fungus growth. Additionally, incorporating honey can enhance the antimicrobial effects of these remedies.

Lifestyle changes also play a significant role in managing dandruff. Hydration is key; drinking plenty of water and using hydrating conditioners can help alleviate dryness. A diet rich in essential oils from sources like walnuts can support scalp health. Stress management techniques can reduce factors that exacerbate dandruff. Regular hair washing with gentle, moisturising products, including natural ingredients like lemon juice or baking soda, helps maintain scalp health.

Medical Treatments for Dandruff

Over-the-counter (OTC) dandruff shampoos are a common first-line treatment. Ingredients like zinc, pyrithione and ketoconazole target the fungus and bacteria responsible for dandruff. Some shampoos contain coal tar, which slows skin cell growth and reduces flakes. However, following the instructions is important, as overuse can lead to scalp irritation.

Prescription treatments from a dermatologist may be necessary for severe cases. These might include stronger antifungal agents or medicated conditioners. Experts recommend that patients use these treatments as directed to achieve the best results.

Prevention Tips

Regular hair washing is vital to keep the scalp clean and reduce the risk of fungal overgrowth. A balanced diet, rich in vitamins and minerals, supports overall hair and scalp health. Stress management is another key aspect; research links stress to various skin and scalp conditions.

When to See a Doctor

Consulting a dermatologist is advisable if home remedies and OTC treatments don’t alleviate dandruff symptoms. Symptoms like severe redness, hair loss, or scaling beyond the scalp (such as on the eyebrows) indicate the need for professional advice. During a consultation, expect a thorough examination and possibly tests to determine the exact scalp condition.

How to Get Rid of Dandruff

When addressing how to eliminate dandruff, you can target symptoms by taking simple steps in the comfort of your home.

The first is to address your lifestyle — mainly your diet. If your diet is high in sugar and processed foods, this can trigger oil production. Instead, consume more nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables and healthy fats.

Next, your shampooing regimen will have a significant effect on your dandruff. Oils and dead skin worsen symptoms of dandruff, so start washing your hair more often. You should wash your hair a few times a week at a minimum if you’re prone to dandruff. Also, the shampoo products you use do matter.

Sumlab’s Products for Dandruff

Summer Laboratories offers a range of products designed specifically for various skin conditions, including dry and oily skin — both of which may lead to dandruff. Some of the best products for getting rid of mild to severe dandruff include:

1 | Tarsum Relief Shampoo — This is the only psoriasis shampoo designed to be applied full strength, directly to affected areas before you bathe. This quality shampoo can target seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis, and severe dandruff, helping maximise treatment time.

This option is highly beneficial, as you’ll want to gently exfoliate your scalp regularly. This will allow you to regularly lift the top layer of dead skin, reducing dandruff production. The most effective products are those that leverage small amounts of salicylic acid. Keralyt-5 Shampoo, for example, contains 5% salicylic acid.

It’s important to target your dandruff and avoid scratching. Scratching and itching will only increase inflammation and irritation. Instead, apply one of the abovementioned shampoos, gently massaging your scalp to eliminate dandruff.

Lastly, it’s important to manage stress levels. When you are stressed, this affects your overall health. It can trigger a wide range of conditions and may make dandruff worse. This is mainly due to the impact of stress on your immune system. While walks, yoga, and journaling are often recommended to reduce stress, you should focus on whatever helps you relax. Whether that is cooking or doing art, these activities can support your immune system and your quality of life as a whole.

Summers Laboratories Can Help

Summers Laboratories offers skincare solutions for getting rid of dandruff and other conditions. Want to learn more about our collection of skincare products for the entire family? Contact us at 1-800-533-7546 or shop our collection today!


In conclusion, while there are many ways to manage dandruff, understanding the type and cause of your scalp condition is key. From natural remedies like tea tree and coconut oil to medical treatments like zinc pyrithione shampoos, options vary based on individual needs. Regular care, a balanced diet, and stress management are essential preventative measures. Remember, persistent or severe cases warrant a visit to a dermatologist for specialised treatment. Stay informed and proactive for optimal scalp health.




  • Michael Reed

    Michael Reed is a medical writer at Sumlab, focusing on dermatological studies and treatments. His articles help demystify complex clinical results for a broad audience.

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