A few hundred strands of hair clogging the shower drain doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going bald. But when your hair is shedding and there are piles of dandruff on your shirt collar, that could mean double trouble. While dandruff is only indirectly related to hair loss, its presence indicates an unhealthy scalp environment which can be harmful to hair follicles and lead to thinning hair.
Dandruff (pityriasis capitis) is an embarrassing and potentially serious scalp condition most commonly caused by fungi. Its symptoms include itchy, red, burning skin, and inflammation of the scalp in more severe cases. Abnormal amounts of dead skin cells litter the hair and scalp like so many fallen snowflakes. If left untreated, dandruff can damage hair follicles and exacerbate hair loss.
The relationship between hair loss and dandruff is significant because it often indicates a more serious health issue. Stress and poor diet cause dandruff AND hair loss. So, where there is thinning hair, there is often dandruff. The two go together. People who suffer from anxiety, chronic stress, overwork, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and an unclean scalp are prone to lifestyle-induced hair loss and dandruff. In some cases, the dandruff results from faulty hair follicles. Over washing of the hair is another reason many people have a problem with dandruff. The dry shampoo and conditioner left behind on the hair and scalp eventually flake off, resembling dandruff.
As fungi proliferation in the scalp is the most likely cause of dandruff associated with hair loss, there are ways to treat the condition. The most common treatments include ketoconazole, zinc pyrithione, and exfoliating agents which cleanse the skin of the scalp and unblock hair follicles so they will function properly.
Hereditary pattern baldness is a different story. This is when a person has a family history of hair loss that is passed on from one generation to the next, and it is best treated with hair transplant surgery. For those people experiencing hair loss related to poor diet, stress, or lifestyle, more than a few flakes of dandruff on the sport jacket collar can be a health warning sign. Learn more about the important relationship between dandruff and a healthy scalp and hair follicles by talking to a qualified hair restoration specialist.
Dr. Kyle S. Choe is a board certified facial plastic surgeon and hair restoration specialist with offices located in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Contact The Choe Center for Facial Plastic Surgery at (757) 389-5850 for a personal consultation.