What's Really Causing Your Dandruff?

We didn't see this coming

Caitlin M.
ByCaitlin M.

We all know what to do when you get flaky skin on your face or body—reach for the lotion! But what about when the flakes find themselves in harder-to-reach spots namely, your scalp? This can be harder to manage and frankly, a bit more embarrassing. And sometimes the cause of your flakes aren't quite as obvious as dry skin.

If you feel like you've been suffering from mystery dandruff lately, listen up. According to Dr. Ilyse Lefkowicz, Head & Shoulders Global Dermatologist, dandruff sufferers tend to assume that it's more common in winter months, when in actuality those who have flakes tend to have them all year around. "That being said, there are some environmental factors including changes in season and pollution that can lead to dandruff," she notes. 

But if a change in season doesn't seem to be the cause of your flakes, there are a number of totally bizarre causes of that we bet you never considered. Get the scoop on some weird causes of your flakes straight from Dr. Lefkowicz—and how to fix 'em!

1) Wet hair

According to Dr. Lefkowicz, sleeping with wet hair or wearing a hat over wet hair can lead to a flaky scalp. As it turns out, the warm, moist environment created from a "wet scalp" is actually a feeding environment for the fungus that causes dandruff. Yikes! And when you are washing your hair, Dr. Lefkowicz suggests staying away from uber hot water, as this can cause irritation and thus, you guessed it, a flaky scalp!


2) Your workout

"Additionally, for people who frequently work out or play sports, it’s best to rinse off after to avoid walking around with a sweaty scalp, which can cause dandruff," she adds. Not only can the sweat create a moist environment for potential dandruff fungus, but it can also lead to salt and dirt buildup, which also leave behind residue that resembles flakes. Turns out there are some things dry shampoo simply can't solve!


3) Stress 

We all know stress can cause breakouts, but did you know it can also be a trigger for dandruff? "When you’re feeling stressed, your immune system is altered, which can lead to flake flare-ups," explains Dr. Lefkowicz. You might want This also includes stress related to illness – if you’ve been recently sick or suffered an injury, that can cause stress in the body as well. 


4) Your blow dryer

OK, now this one totally shocked us. According to Dr. Lefkowicz, the head from your hot tools, namely your hair dryer, on very hot settings can be a source of flakes. Why you might ask? Well, apparently the extreme heat can actually dehydrate the scalp and contribute to inflammation and irritation, which just like dry skin on your body can lead to unsightly crackling, flaky skin!

Thankfully, you can combat dandruff fairly easily. With scalp treatments and plenty of shampoo options available (Dr. Lefkowicz recommends Head & Shoulders Shampoo with 3 Action Formula, which helps remove the oil buildup on the scalp that contributes to dandruff), treatment is as simple as lather rinse, repeat.

How do you treat your dandruff? Let us know your favorite flake-fighter!

About the Author
Caitlin M.
Caitlin M.
Runner. Music lover. All things nachos. Follow me on Instagram: @caitlinsmiller