brunette man parting his hair with fingers to reveal scalp
Hair LossDandruff

Can Dandruff Cause Hair Loss?

Dandruff affects a lot of people worldwide, but can dandruff cause hair loss? Nioxin explores the answer to this question.

Dandruff is an uncomfortable condition that causes our scalp to become irritated and our skin to flake. It leads to a dry scalp and itchy skin, which can affect scalp health and hair growth.

But does dandruff affect hair loss? Well, dandruff can cause hair thinning and shedding. But luckily, in most cases, dandruff will only lead to temporary hair loss. In fact, it is quite rare for dandruff to cause permanent hair loss. Let's explore why this happens.

key takeaways

Dandruff does not cause permanent hair loss but the severe and constant itching can disrupt the scalp's environment, which can can affect healthy hair growth.

There are a few dermatological and scalp conditions to watch out for that may worsen due to the symptoms of dandruff. We highly recommend consulting with a medical professional if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.

A suitable SCALP CARE regime and hair care routine can help guard against the most common factors that disrupt your scalp's environment, such as dandruff.

Can Dandruff Lead to Hair Thinning?

In short, the answer is 'yes.' But it is not dandruff itself that directly causes hair thinning.

If you are experiencing moderate to severe dandruff that causes your scalp to itch, you may be more likely to experience hair thinning. This is because when our skin is itchy, we typically can't help but scratch it. Excessive scratching can damage our scalp and cause our hair follicles to become inflamed, which in turn can delay hair growth and lead to hair thinning.

Try to avoid overbrushing and hairstyles that pull your hair (like a high ponytail). These can worsen hair thinning and hair loss caused by dandruff.

Can Dandruff Lead to Permanent Hair Loss?

Usually, dandruff does not cause permanent hair loss. Intense itching can damage the scalp, but this typically does not lead to permanent hair loss, as hair can grow back once the scalp recovers.

There are a few dermatological and scalp conditions that may worsen due to the symptoms of dandruff. These conditions include:

  • Male pattern baldness

  • Female pattern baldness

  • Alopecia areata

  • Telogen effluvium

  • Seborrheic dermatitis

  • Bacterial or fungal scalp infections

If you have one of the conditions listed above, you might find that your hair loss worsens when experiencing dandruff. It is important to reach out to your doctor or healthcare provider if you are concerned about dandruff's interaction with a pre-existing medical condition.

What Type of Dandruff Causes Hair Loss?

There are different types of dandruff. We might find that our dandruff is very dry and keeps coming back several times a year, or we might notice that our dandruff is oily but goes away immediately after treatment. But how do the different types of dandruff affect hair loss?

Fungal Dandruff

Fungal dandruff is generally caused by a fungal infection like ringworm or an overgrowth of the yeast Malassezia (this is part of the scalp's natural microbiome). 

Ringworm is a red or gray circular rash that can appear on any part of the body, including the scalp. It often leads to flaky skin and a dry scalp, and in some cases, it may even cause bald patches and weak, fragile hair.

Ringworm needs to be treated as soon as possible. Beyond the discomfort it causes, it is also contagious.

Malassezia is another type of fungus that contributes to dandruff. The overgrowth of Malassezia can be caused by scalp conditions like seborrheic dermatitis (a type of chronic eczema). It can also trigger scalp conditions like Malassezia folliculitis (an overgrowth of yeast on hair follicles leading to inflammation). These conditions can contribute to an irritated scalp and can also interfere with the growth of hair.

Although fungal dandruff can cause hair loss, this is usually temporary. Typically, once the fungal infection is treated, dandruff and the hair loss triggered by it should subside. 

Chronic Dandruff

Sometimes dandruff might be caused by a chronic medical condition like seborrheic dermatitis. When a skin condition is chronic, it means that it will most likely keep coming back. Although it is not yet possible to fully treat chronic dandruff, your doctor or healthcare professional might suggest tips, like using medicated shampoo and eating a well-balanced diet, to minimize discomfort and prevent hair loss. 

Wet Dandruff

Wet dandruff is a type of scalp condition that results from oil buildup on the scalp. Instead of dry, scaly skin and white flakes, wet dandruff causes yellow and oily flakes to appear on the scalp.

It is often an underlying dermatological condition that causes wet dandruff. Other times it may be caused by genetic or environmental factors. Some of the reasons we might encounter wet dandruff on our scalp include:

  • Seborrheic dermatitis. 

  • Psoriasis (a type of autoimmune skin condition that causes greasy, crusted patches to appear on our scalp).

  • Not washing hair often enough. 

  • A naturally oily scalp.

Although wet dandruff does not directly cause hair loss, it can create discomfort and inflammation. Similarly to dry dandruff, intense scratching caused by wet dandruff can contribute to hair loss and thinning. It is important to talk to a healthcare professional if you are experiencing excessive hair loss caused by dandruff.

Excessive Dandruff

With mild and moderate dandruff, we might notice a dry, scaly scalp and a few flakes falling from our scalp to our shoulders.

A severe case of dandruff causes our scalp to feel raw and crusty. This type of dandruff may lead to constant itching and will often fail to respond to standard over-the-counter treatment. To prevent hair loss and further injury to the scalp, your dermatologist might prescribe:

  • Topical medications, like a topical steroid cream to apply to your scalp.

  • Antifungal medication to take orally or apply directly to your skin. 

  • A solution to apply to your scalp and leave overnight repeatedly for a period of time.

It is important to speak to your physician or medical provider to find out what is causing your dandruff. You might even find that excessive or stubborn dandruff is caused by another skin condition like psoriasis, eczema, allergies, or an autoimmune disease. 

Treatment for Hair Loss Caused by Dandruff

Your hair loss treatment will usually depend on the type and severity of your dandruff. Some general tips for preventing hair loss caused by dandruff include the following: 

  • Moisturize your scalp and keep your scalp clean by regularly

    washing your hair. We

  • Try to reduce stress..

  • Make sure you are getting all your essential hair vitamins and nutrients by eating a

    balanced diet

  • Avoid harsh chemicals and hair products that can cause irritation (for example, certain hair dyes or bleach). 

  • Avoid tight hairstyles that pull your hair. 

  • Catch some sunlight

    Spending time outdoors can be great for controlling dandruff. Always make sure to wear sunscreen on your face and parts of your body that are exposed to direct sunlight.

Anti-Dandruff and Hair Loss Shampoo

Anti-dandruff shampoo is a standard treatment for dandruff-related hair loss. These shampoos help alleviate the symptoms of dandruff, like a dry and itchy scalp. This can also reduce excessive scratching and inflammation. 

After using anti-dandruff shampoo, you may also notice a decrease in hair shedding. 

Hair care products like Nioxin's Scalp Recovery System Kit can help restore your scalp's natural balance and fight dry skin and flakiness. The system kit contains active ingredients like zinc pyrithione and green tea extract, which have antibacterial and antifungal properties.

Look for products that moisturize your scalp and hair to reduce irritation and flaking caused by dandruff.

Learn more about hair loss treatments and remedies for scalp and hair concerns. Our range of products and treatments are created to help with thinning hair and achieve thicker, fuller-looking hair.

Shop The Story

View all