If the scalp peels off in the form of dandruff, the cause is often too dry skin. This can usually be easily treated on your own. Particularly sensitive shampoos from the pharmacy and increasing the interval between two hair washes can have a big effect here.
If your scalp is too oily, oily dandruff can also develop. They are sometimes easy to treat, but can also remain stubborn. Please note our care tips.
Dandruff can also be caused by fungi or skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis (neurodermatitis), psoriasis or seborrheic eczema and in this case should be treated by a dermatologist.
Function of the scalp
The function of the scalp essentially corresponds to the function of the rest of the skin. Among other things, it serves to balance the temperature : at low temperatures, the blood vessels contract so that less body temperature is released into the environment; at high temperatures, they expand and the sweat glands release cooling sweat. It can also do this to generally regulate the water balance in the body. By perceiving temperatures, touch, wind and the like, it also serves sensory perception.
The scalp also forms a natural barrier and protection against various infections , which is further reinforced by the hair. As skin renews itself, old cells migrate to the surface of the scalp and become cornified. This keratinization is normal and protects the underlying layers of skin.
Only excessive keratinization leads to cell clumps forming and becoming visible as scales.
Affected by dandruff
The formation of scales is the final step in normal cell renewal. Scales are used to shed excess dead cells. However, if the scales become visible, there is often excessive keratinization and premature scaling . In addition, the skin is no longer able to shed the dandruff quickly enough and instead they are deposited on the scalp . This can not only be visually disturbing, but can also lead to an itchy scalp and inflammation or infection.
In Europe, it is estimated that around 40 percent of people are affected by dandruff at least once in their life. People with oily scalps are particularly often affected by dandruff, but dry scalps can also be prone to dandruff, which is why we cannot generally recommend a specific product or anti-dandruff shampoo.
Oily skin particularly affected
One of the main causes of dandruff is excessive activity of the sebaceous glands arranged in a ring around the hair follicles and the resulting fatty film . This promotes infections and inflammations , which in turn lead to the normal keratinization of the old cells being disrupted.
The cells keratinize incompletely and clump together to form skin or scalp scales and when they come off, the skin underneath is often red or even wet. However, that sounds more dramatic than it is. The symptoms can often be treated well with proper hair care and anti-dandruff shampoos. Various vitamins, e.g. B. Vitamin C serum , sulfur or sulfides, tar and degreasing shampoos can achieve great effects when used regularly. This helps the scalp find its natural balance again.
However, whether the agents and substances mentioned are suitable for treating dandruff on an oily scalp depends on the causes, possible diseases and the skin type. If your scalp is particularly oily and itchy, you should usually see a dermatologist before starting treatment.
How is dandruff formed?
The formation of scales on the skin is completely normal and usually not visible to the naked eye. All skin cells renew themselves within approx. 4 weeks . The cells migrate from bottom to top through the various layers of skin, from the subcutis to the dermis to the epidermis, where they harden. This keratinization protects the skin from penetration by foreign bodies.
Ultimately, the cells die and are shed from the skin – as scales . However, if the skin sheds the cells too early or too quickly, the formation of the protective layer is disrupted. The small, invisible scales clump together to form larger scales, which become visible to the naked eye from a cell clump of around 500 cells.
The scales fall from the scalp onto shoulders and clothes and are quickly visible on dark clothing. There doesn't necessarily have to be a medical problem here, but loose, visible scales are perceived as a visual defect and should therefore be treated. Furthermore, excessive dandruff promotes infections and can worsen underlying diseases.
Possible causes of dandruff
The most common cause of dandruff or accelerated scalp skin shedding is an oily scalp . This can be hereditary or hormonal - for example an excess of androgens during puberty or menopause - but can also have other causes .
Other causes include:
Too frequent hair care with hair care products that are too aggressive can stimulate the scalp's sebum production to above normal levels.
Environmental and climatic factors such as heat, cold, sunlight or heated air can have similar effects.
Stress and an incorrect diet can put strain on the skin and scalp and, among other things, result in dandruff.
However, dandruff can also occur on a dry scalp . Diseases such as atopic dermatitis (neurodermatitis) , psoriasis or fungal infection of the scalp are often the cause. Especially if you have a dry, itchy scalp or increased dandruff, you should consult a dermatologist and have the symptoms thoroughly clarified.
How can you treat dandruff?
If an illness is the cause of the increased dandruff, this and only secondarily the dandruff itself should be treated. Cosmetic shampoos with antifungal agents (antimycotics such as climbazole, selenium sulfide, clotrimazole, ciclopiroxolamine, zinc pyrithio, ketoconazole and others) help against fungal infestation.
For 'normal' dandruff on an oily scalp, a normal anti-dandruff shampoo is often enough to get rid of it in the short term. However, there is a risk of excessive care here, because washing too often with aggressive products stimulates the scalp's sebum or oil production and a vicious circle can begin. Extra mild surfactants and gradually extending the time between two hair washes can counteract this.
For an inflamed scalp (atopic eczema) , shampoos and care products with anti-inflammatory active ingredients such as urea (urea), retinoids, azelaic acid, salicylic acid, resorcinol or coal tar (although a mild carcinogenic effect cannot be ruled out) can be used for treatment.
If atopic dermatitis or neurodermatitis is suspected as the cause, preparations containing cortisone can be used. However, as with stronger or higher-dose antifungal agents, treatment with this is only recommended for a short period of time.
How can a doctor help?
The dermatologist or dermatologist can help, especially with diseases that can be the cause of increased dandruff . Although some shampoos with antifungal agents or care products with anti-inflammatory agents do not require a prescription, higher doses or more effective agents can only be prescribed by a doctor .
The diseases that may be considered include:
psoriasis as well
Fungal diseases or infections.
To decide whether a visit to the doctor is advisable, you should observe how quickly the dandruff forms and whether there are any other symptoms. In particular, if the dandruff cannot be attributed to an oily scalp without any other symptoms, you should consider visiting a dermatologist.
If you have these symptoms, you should go to the doctor:
when weeping spots form
severe itching, swelling or redness of the scalp
noticeable inflammation or burning of the scalp
If you only suffer from slightly increased dandruff formation, but the dandruff does not disappear or comes back quickly despite anti-dandruff shampoo and appropriate hair care, a good dermatologist may be able to help you choose the right care line.
Home remedies for dandruff
In addition to the professional help of a family doctor or pharmacist, special anti-dandruff shampoos, soothing and moisturizing care products, oils and home remedies may also be suitable for treating your dandruff.
When choosing the remedy, it is important to always differentiate between dry scalp with dry dandruff and oily scalp with greasy dandruff , because very different treatment recommendations sometimes apply here. Basically, if you have dry dandruff, you should be careful not to degrease your scalp too much and therefore only use mild shampoos. Strongly oil-dissolving anti-dandruff shampoos, on the other hand, can be useful in treating greasy dandruff.
The well-known and proven home remedies for dry dandruff include:
Hair masks: Hair masks made from different oils (almond oil, argan oil, olive oil) worn overnight also reach the head and help the skin to provide itself with the oil it needs.
Baking soda: Apply a handful of baking soda to wet scalp, massage in and rinse with lukewarm water. It acts like a peeling and also absorbs excess fat.
Yogurt: Yogurt has a soothing, calming effect and can also reduce itching. Apply the yogurt to the stressed scalp, leave it on for about 15 minutes and wash your head and hair thoroughly but gently with a mild shampoo.
There are far fewer home remedies for greasy dandruff, which is probably because they are generally easier to treat and conventional anti-dandruff shampoos are also promising. An insider tip to combat greasy dandruff that is caused by a skin fungus (usually a yeast fungus) is to add a little tea tree oil (a few drops are enough) to your usual shampoo.
A treatment with apple cider vinegar has proven effective against both dry and greasy dandruff . To do this, simply mix half a glass of apple cider vinegar with half a glass of warm water, pour it over your scalp, wrap a towel around your head and leave it on for about 30 minutes. Finally, rinse your hair and scalp with lukewarm water without shampoo. This soothes the scalp, cleanses gently and thoroughly and helps the skin reach its natural pH value.
Care for the scalp properly
Long-term success against dandruff can only be achieved with a care routine tailored to individual conditions. If there is no illness, the increased formation of dandruff is often due to too intensive or too frequent hair care or a hormonal imbalance. Both causes can be treated relatively easily with the right care products and an adapted washing routine.
What should you pay attention to?
Here too, it is important to differentiate between a scalp that is too dry and a scalp that is too oily. If your scalp is dry and prone to dandruff, you should:
Wash your hair only every two, preferably every three days with a gentle shampoo
Only use lukewarm and not hot water for washing
Maybe use a moisturizing conditioner after washing or nourish your scalp with natural oils
Avoid heat in general (headgear in the sauna, let your hair air dry, do not dry it with a hairdryer)
Just dab the hair gently with a fine cotton towel
Do not comb your hair too often and only use brushes or combs with rounded tips
If you have an oily scalp that is prone to dandruff, you should:
Wash your hair about two to three times a week
If your hair is oily, use dry shampoo between washes
Avoid shampoos and care products with a strong moisturizing effect
just blow-dry your hair cold
give yourself (or have a partner) regular head massages
Some frequently asked questions are briefly answered below.
Why is my scalp peeling?
The most common cause of increased dandruff on the head is a scalp that is too dry, which is often due to excessive hair care with care products or shampoos that are too aggressive.
What to do if your scalp peels?
If a dry scalp with dry dandruff is the cause, the skin needs time to regenerate (wash your hair less often with mild shampoos) as well as moisture and oil. Please note the care tips in this article.
How do you recognize a fungus on the scalp?
A fungal disease of the scalp usually begins with a small red nodule that lies around the hairline of a hair and spreads from there. After a few days, the nodule becomes pale and scales begin to form and shed. Hair loss, itching and inflammation can result.
It is not always easy to tell whether fungi or other diseases are the cause of dandruff on the scalp, because the changes in the skin caused are easily confused with similar symptoms, which can, however, have other causes (such as psoriasis or neurodermatitis). A certain amount of yeast fungi on the skin is generally normal.
If you suspect a fungal disease, you should consult a dermatologist. A dermatologist can carry out microscopic examinations or even have tissue samples analyzed in the laboratory to find out whether and which fungus is the cause of the dandruff formation.
What to do about a weeping scalp?
If there is severe scaling, inflammation and peeling scabs or scabs, a dermatologist should usually be consulted, as fungi or skin diseases such as psoriasis, seborrheic eczema or neurodermatitis are possible causes and must be treated
A relatively large number of people suffer (temporarily) from dandruff. There are many reasons for this, which are more or less harmless or require treatment and have been presented in this article.
The death of skin cells and the shedding of the scalp as scales is initially a normal part of skin renewal. These dry scales are usually not visible at all and are not a problem. Visible clumps of dead skin cells are initially only a visual problem and can often be treated well with an adapted hair care routine (less frequent, less, extra mild shampoo).
However, if there are other symptoms such as itching, inflammation, weeping spots, grinding or scabs, it is better to see a dermatologist.