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What causes dandruff (and what is it)?

What those pesky flakes actually are and why we get them.

Scalp health

3 min read

Noticed little white flakes falling on your shoulders? These flakes are caused by dandruff, a skin condition affecting the scalp and hair. If you've ever experienced this, then you're probably wondering what it is – and more importantly, what's causing it?

If these are questions you've asked yourself, you've come to the right place. Below we explain what is dandruff, what causes dandruff and the age-old query of is dandruff contagious. Read on to satisfy your curiosity and walking away with a clear head.

What is dandruff?

These flakes are actually your scalp's old skin cells shedding at an excessively rapid rate. Normally, with a healthy scalp, its surface layer should shed around once a month and quickly churn out new cells for replacement.

However, when your scalp gets over efficient, the turnover process occurs too quickly, causing a build-up of excess dead skin known as dandruff.

Dandruff can look different depending on each individuals scalp, but it is usually noticeable as dry white flakes or as yellow clumps on the scalp. 

What causes dandruff?

Dandruff causes have long been a topic of debate but from what we know, the main cause is a fungus called Malassezia. A yeast-like scalp fungus, Malassezia is naturally present even in healthy scalps. It's only when the scalp barrier becomes weakened that irritants produced by Malassezia are able to penetrate through the weak scalp barrier, aggravating the scalp condition and leading to the formation of dandruff.

Women in mirror gazing at scalp

Restoring your scalp's protective barrier and boosting its natural defence power is a big scalp towards combating the fungus. 

Factors that can increase your sensitivity to Malassezia include stress, a dry scalp, cold weather and bad reactions to products. Luckily, CLEAR has a solution to tackle these factors with that offers effective care for you to combat dandruff

Is dandruff contagious?

Worried about passing dandruff on to your friends and family? There's no need to be. Dandruff is not contagious and cannot be caught from or passed on to another person. Dandruff-causing Malassezia is naturally occurring on the scalp and only those with a sensitivity to the microbe will develop dandruff. 

So, now you know the facts about what dandruff is and how it's caused, it's time to discover how to get rid of it for good with our helpful tips and tricks.