What is dandruff and what to do

What is dandruff and what to do

03 Mar 2022

A dry and flaky scalp can be uncomfortable and sometimes cause insecurity but there may be a deeper reason for why you’re experiencing it.

The occurrence of dandruff specifically can indicate if we have hormonal imbalance, low nutrient intake, too much stress or even poor hygiene practices.

You may have researched how to get rid of dandruff and dandruff causes. This scalp condition can manifest in several ways, all of which can cause embarrassment and distress among those unable to successfully treat it.

Despite the desire for affected individuals to get rid of dandruff, doing so can be incredibly challenging. The beauty and personal care market is saturated with products and services supposedly effective in targeting this concern, but what people may not realize is that the best way to get rid of dandruff is through improving health from within. Aside from topical solutions, there are vitamin and mineral supplements worth exploring that are specially formulated to combat dandruff causes.

Given the distress dandruff can cause for many individuals, let’s explore this health issue, the possible causes and how to get rid of dandruff through healthy, sustainable and achievable means.  

What is dandruff?

You might have mistaken dandruff as the flakes of dry skin that unflatteringly stick to clothes or make it to the surface of your hair. More accurately, dandruff is the term given to the scalp condition that causes this kind of skin flaking as well as other related skin symptoms.

When thinking of how to get rid of dandruff, most people will want to address things like skin flaking, greasy hairline, limp hair, scalp itchiness or redness, or even a burning sensation that accompanies all of these things. In more severe cases, dandruff may also cause the skin behind the ears and the nape to exhibit these symptoms. Whether experienced singly or collectively, these symptoms of dandruff often encourage scratching or rubbing, leading to secondary issues like wounds, sores, or scabs on affected areas of the scalp.

Australians wanting to learn more about the causes of dandruff and how to treat it may be surprised to learn that it is, in fact, a common skin condition that affects 50 percent of the Australian population (1). People of all ages can experience dandruff-related issues and while dandruff is inconvenient and uncomfortable, it is not life-threatening nor contagious. Dandruff can however be a long-term health concern or a one-time occurrence.

It is also important to note the difference between dandruff and the skin’s normal shedding of its outermost layers from time to time. For instance, skin-flaking is not automatically indicative of dandruff; it can happen as a reaction to beauty products such as shampoos or hair dyes, or even when skin becomes excessively dry or irritated from sunburn or extreme changes in the environmental such as humid weather conditions, the heat and winters (1).

The best way to know whether one needs to learn how to get rid of dandruff or is simply dealing with a passing scalp irritation is to see a dermatologist.

Common causes of dandruff

Before diving into how to get rid of dandruff, it’s best to know what causes the common scalp condition. Different causes require different courses of treatment, so it’s crucial that those with this health concern receive an accurate diagnosis.

Most often, skin conditions such as seborrheic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, and cradle cap are the causes of dandruff (2). Hence, how to get rid of dandruff actually requires one to deal with these underlying skin conditions first.

Seborrheic dermatitis

Dandruff is a mild form of seborrheic dermatitis which occurs with the overgrowth of malassezia, a yeast naturally found on the skin’s surface. Too much of this yeast triggers the body’s immune response as the body can mistake the overgrowth as the presence of bacteria. Therefore, the body reacts by shedding layers of skin, the process of which makes the scalp itchy and the skin on the head and sometimes the face, flake and fall (2). Seborrheic dermatitis appears on the head most frequently, but can also affect the eyebrows, ears, and chest area (1).

The causes of  seborrheic dermatitis are not completely known, but enough research has shown that it can be triggered by stress or fatigue and is more commonplace in cold weather (1). It is not linked to other illnesses but it may become more difficult to treat because of the presence of other health issues (1). Additionally, seborrheic dermatitis has not been found to be caused by poor hygiene or diet, nor is it hereditary (3).

Contact dermatitis

Contact dermatitis may also be a potential culprit behind dandruff. This a condition that causes the skin to become excessively dry, making it prone to other complications (4). Causes of dandruff related to contact dermatitis are accompanied by skin appearing red, itchy, and blistered, and these symptoms can last for just minutes or days. Often, contact dermatitis is a result of exposure to irritants that damage the top layer of the skin, or to allergens that awaken the immune response of the body (4).

Cradle cap

Cradle cap is a skin condition that occurs in newborns and is a form of seborrheic dermatitis. Telltale signs include the crusting of skin on a baby’s scalp, eyebrows, and nappy area. It’s not harmful to the baby and is not contagious despite appearing painful (5), and can sometimes clear up on its own. The yeast malassezia may also cause cradle cap in babies, but its exact causes are more varied than that.

Understanding these potential causes are essential in the search for how to get rid of dandruff. Though this article does not provide an extensive discussion on these skin conditions, the goal is to equip concerned individuals with what they should understand about dandruff, first and foremost. It can be frustrating to find a good starting point for dandruff treatment, so learning about their causes marks a good springboard.

The following sections of this article focus on how to get rid of dandruff as well as manageable steps that can be taken in order to prevent a recurrence of the condition after successful treatment.

Topical dandruff treatment

Once you’ve learned about the causes of dandruff, the next step is to of course figure out how to get rid of dandruff. The best way to do so is to use products that have specific ingredients to improve the scalp’s condition. These products come in specially formulated shampoos, oils, or balms and often come with a label indicating that they are medicated hair or scalp products (6). Medicated products are prescribed by dermatologists and instructions for use are indicated by the product label or in your prescription. Remember never to self-medicate.

When specifically looking for anti-dandruff products, the most common form of which is shampoo, these are some of the ingredients that you need to look out for, however it’s important to be mindful that they are chemical based (6):

  • Fluocinolone: A corticosteroid that lessens itching, flaking, and irritation.
  • Zinc pyrithione: An anti-bacterial and anti-fungal ingredient
  • Salicylic acid: A substance that minimizes scaling
  • Selenium sulfide and ketoconazole: Anti-fungal ingredients
  • Coal tar: An ingredient that slows down the scalp’s shedding of skin

Aside from using the right product to get rid of dandruff, there are several more tips you can follow, as suggested by the American Academy of Dermatology Association (7).

For instance, they recommend different ways of using shampoos depending on hair type. For Caucasian and Asian hair types, it’s best to use dandruff shampoo twice a week and a normal shampoo daily (7). Switching dandruff shampoo with different ingredients also helps if one product is not working as it should (7). African-American hair types may benefit from a milder formula, as their hair may be more sensitive to regular washing and medicated shampoos (7). Consult dermatologists during your next visit to raise these concerns.

How to get rid of dandruff

Avoiding a dandruff recurrence

An equally important part of dandruff treatment is learning how to avoid a recurrence after one has successfully treated the tricky condition.

One thing to do is to always have an arsenal of anti-dandruff products. Always having a stock of shampoos and similar products you were prescribed, can help as addressing any new flare-ups can be attended to immediately before they worsen.

Secondly, recall the link between the common causes of dandruff and stress. It can be said that combatting stress is an indirect yet effective path to managing dandruff. Therefore, having regular stress-busting practices in your life can have unexpected yet useful benefits in one’s mission of how to get rid of dandruff.  Simple things such as getting into the habit of exercise, decompressing your mind via activities like meditation and finding a hobby, sleeping properly, balancing work and play might be the solutions to dealing with dandruff that many people realize they should have considered.

In addition to setting appointments with dermatologists, using the right products, and keeping stress at bay, there is another alternative for how to get rid of dandruff effectively. Dandruff, as discussed above, can be an offshoot of skin issues, therefore, treating the skin to minerals and vitamins it needs to function more healthily can be yet another pathway to dealing with dandruff.

Skin can get the vitamins and minerals it needs when individuals employ a well-balanced diet that includes a variety of wholesome foods. However, the reality is that well-rounded diets can be challenging to maintain, so most people turn to supplements to fill in the gaps. Mineral and vitamin supplements for skin are available to all Australians, especially those provided by Vitable Australia. The brand boasts of three supplements that are especially made to strengthen hair and skin from within, becoming an effective way for how to treat dandruff once and for all.

This article takes a closer look at the roles of Biotin, Collagen, and cranberry supplements in the process of how to get rid of dandruff (6).

Supplements to take as part of dandruff treatment

The following nutrients support and maintain skin and hair health which is crucial in holistic dandruff treatment. These nutrients can be sourced from foods that we eat or through supplements.


When it comes to hair health, biotin is one of the nutrients frequently mentioned. Also known as vitamin B7, it’s used in breaking down amino acids, fat, and protein (8), all of which maintain hair health evidenced by healthier growth, strength, and thickness in addition to promoting overall skin health (8).

There are several studies that show how biotin helps in hair health. Patients who experience thinning hair have seen improvements after taking supplements with biotin (9). In a different study, patients with poor hair growth have seen better hair health after taking biotin supplements (10). In terms of how to get rid of dandruff, a study has shown that improving the synthesis of biotin and other vitamins is linked to the lessening of fungus-caused dandruff flare-ups (11).

For you to consume more Biotin in food, eat more meats like beef and pork, some organ meat like liver, fish, eggs, and milk. Fruits and veggies such spinach, avocado, broccoli, seeds, and nuts also have traces of Biotin. It’s recommended to have at least 25 micrograms of Biotin per day in order to reap its benefits.


Cranberry is not a nutrient in itself, but this super fruit is known to contain a hefty dose of vitamin C which essentially helps in maintaining and supporting hair health and growth. Additionally, vitamin C also supports the production of collagen, a protein that naturally occurs in the body and is responsible for keeping skin supple and resistant to stress and illnesses.

Here, it’s noted that Vitamin C supports the body in fighting free radicals which may cause premature hair loss (12) while also minimizing iron deficiency-related hair loss (13), both of which potentially exacerbate dandruff-related concerns.

The recommended daily intake for vitamin C is at least 45 mg per day (14). Whether you get your daily dose from fresh or processed cranberries, or from supplements, those looking for how to get rid of dandruff would do well by having any of these forms of cranberries at home.


Another nutrient known to be critical in maintaining skin and hair health is collagen. It’s the body’s most abundant protein for a good reason; it gives structure to hair and skin (15) and for women especially, it plays a role in skin integrity, elasticity, and hydration. Skin that has enough collagen is less likely to feel taut, flake, or get itchy as what commonly happens when one has dandruff (16).

Normally, the body can produce its own collagen when it has the nutrients needed for collagen production. When looking for foods rich in collagen, know that it is found in most meats, fish, chicken, and eggs, as well as all forms of broth where bones and cartilage or tendon are the main ingredients. There are other foods that have smaller traces of collagen like nuts, seeds, and several varieties of beans. If dietary restrictions or lifestyle choices prevent you from consuming these foods, collagen supplements are available. The recommended daily intake for collagen is at least 37 grams per day (17).

There are other nutrients and other activities which can help improve hair health but the easiest step is to work on having these nutrients included in your diet. Vitable Australia can give you the health boost you need through daily vitamin packs, may support skin and hair health, but also suggests the best ways on how to get rid of dandruff, as well as other health concerns.

Learning ways to get rid of dandruff can start by improving your hair health. Rid yourself of the skin condition for good by nurturing a healthy scalp and stronger hair through biotin, cranberry, and collagen supplements. Discover the supplements that help you achieve that through Vitable vitamins. They offer subscription vitamins that take care of your body’s needs.

Choose from a variety of supplements to create your own daily vitamin pack. Whether you need to have more sleep, get more energy, or improve your overall wellness, they can find you the right supplements for your needs. Pay only for the ones you’ve selected and save money and effort.

Vitable offers a vitamin delivery service to ship your purchase directly to your home. Experience convenience and premium quality to help you start your healthy habit with Vitable.

*Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional. Vitamin and/or mineral supplements should not replace a balanced diet.


  1. “Dandruff and itching scalp”. Better Health Channel. Published Jan 6, 2020 on https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/dandruff-and-itching-scalp. Accessed on Dec. 19, 2021
  2. “Dandruff”. National Health Service. Published Oct. 2, 2019 on https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/dandruff/. Accessed on Dec. 19, 2021
  3. “Seborrhoeic Dermatitis”. British Association of Dermatologists. Published Apr. 2018 on https://www.bad.org.uk/for-the-public/patient-information-leaflets/seborrhoeic-dermatitis. Accessed on Dec. 19, 2021
  4. “Contact Dermatitis”. National Health Service. Published Nov. 12, 2019 on https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/contact-dermatitis/. Accessed on Dec. 19, 2021
  5. “Cradle Cap”. National Health Service. Published Jan. 24, 2019 on https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cradle-cap/. Accessed on Dec. 19, 2021
  6. “Dandruff”. Mayo Clinic. Published Sep. 21, 2021 on https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dandruff/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20353854. Accessed on Dec. 19, 2021
  7. “How to treat dandruff”. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Published on https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/hair-scalp-care/scalp/treat-dandruff. Accessed on Dec. 19, 2021
  8. “Biotin”, Ministry of Health: National Health and Medical Research Council. Published on https://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/biotin. Accessed on Dec. 19, 2021
  9. Glynis A., “A Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Study Evaluating the Efficacy of an Oral Supplement in Women with Self-perceived Thinning Hair”. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology. Published Nov. 2012 on https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3509882/. Accessed on Dec. 19, 2021
  10. Patel, D., Swink, S, and Castelo-Soccio, L., “A Review of the Use of Biotin for Hair Loss”. Skin Appendage Disorders. Published Apr. 27, 2017 on https://doi.org/10.1159/000462981. Accessed on Dec. 19, 2021
  11. Saxena, R., Mittal, P., Clavaud, C., Dhakan, D., et al. "Comparison of Healthy and Dandruff Scalp Microbiome Reveals the Role of Commensals in Scalp Health". Frontiers in cellular and infection microbiology. Published  Oct. 4, 2018 on https://doi.org/10.3389/fcimb.2018.00346. Accessed on Dec. 19, 2021
  12. Trüeb R., “Oxidative stress in ageing of hair”. International Journal of Trichology, Published Jan. 2009 on https://doi.org/10.4103/0974-7753.51923. Accessed on Dec. 19, 2021
  13. “Vitamin C”, National Institute of Health: Office of Dietary Supplements. Published on https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-HealthProfessional/. Accessed on Dec. 19, 2021
  14. “Vitamin C”, Ministry of Health: National Health and Medical Research Council. Published on https://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/vitamin-c. Accessed on Dec. 19, 2021
  15. “The beauty of collagen”. Green Dispensary. Published on https://greendispensary.com.au/the-beauty-of-collagen/. Accessed on Dec. 19, 2021
  16. Kim, B., and  Kim, H. “Successful hair regrowth in a Korean patient with alopecia universalis following tofacitinib treatment”. Singapore Medical Journal. Published May 2017 on https://doi.org/10.11622/smedj.2017039. Accessed on Dec. 19, 2021
  17. “Protein”, Ministry of Health: National Health and Medical Research Council. Published on https://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/protein. Accessed on Dec. 19, 2021