Dandruff and Hair Loss – A Concern?

If you are a guy whose hair is thinning and you also have dandruff, you may be wondering if the dandruff is actually causing the hair loss, or if there is a connection.

It’s not and there isn’t.

Male pattern baldness, which manifests in the typical receding hairline and loss of hair at the crown, is a genetic condition that affects hair follicles. Dandruff is a skin condition that involves the overgrowth of skin cells and affects the scalp, making it itchy and flaky. Dandruff may worsen in the winter months when indoor heating exacerbates dry skin conditions.

Let’s examine these two conditions, dispel any associated myths, and talk about treatments for each.

Does dandruff cause hair loss?

Dandruff does not cause hair loss. There is no connection whatsoever. Dandruff is a cosmetic nuisance, but it is not dangerous, it’s not contagious, and it won’t lead to other health issues. It can have several causes, including:

    • A naturally occurring microbe on the scalp
    • Dry skin
  • A yeast-like fungus
  • Psoriasis
  • Eczema
  • Seborrheic dermatitis

In the majority of cases that involved microbes, dry skin or a fungus, simply washing the hair with an anti-dandruff shampoo every few days can be an effective treatment. However, if the underlying cause is related to a skin condition such as psoriasis, other topical and systemic treatments should be pursued.

Dandruff and hair loss – why the connection myth?

Fifty percent of all men (and women) will experience dandruff at some point. And 50% of all men will experience male pattern baldness to some degree by the time they are 50. So if you are experiencing both, you are not alone, and it’s easy to see why the question of connection might come up. You may well be thinking, “I have dandruff, and my hair is falling out, so maybe the dandruff is the cause.” It’s quite natural to draw this connection, erroneous though it is. But the fact is that losing hair is normal. An adult will loss approximately 80-100 hairs a day, whether they are experiencing advanced hair loss or not hair loss at all. This is because hair grows in cycles that last between four and seven years. At the end of the cycle the hair is shed. In people not experiencing male pattern baldness, that lost hair is replaced by a new hair, and the cycle begins again.

Furthermore, men tend to notice hair loss while in the shower, as the hair accumulates in the shower drain. So they conclude that dandruff + shower + shampoo = hair loss. But this is also a false assumption. Washing your hair cannot cause male pattern baldness. If it could,women would suffer receding hairlines, temple recession, and hair loss at the crown in the same way that males do.