Dandruff is the dead part of the skin on the head, or other parts of the body, which differ from the normal death of the skin in size and possibly other accompanying effects such as itching. About half of the adult population, more often men than women, suffer from dandruff, and several false myths circulate around them. What are the predispositions to dandruff and can we get rid of them at all?
Dandruff is nothing new in the animal kingdom. Relatively recent research has revealed dandruff in the 125-million-year-old dinosaur. In humans, however, dandruff is an unpleasant problem causing itchy skin, unaesthetic white flakes on the head and clothes, lower self-confidence and possibly anxiety.
The formation of dandruff is caused by several independent factors, namely sebum, by-products of the metabolism of microorganisms, especially yeast fungi of the genus Malassezia, and then the sensitivity of the person and possibly environmental influences. Malassezia has a major effect on the formation of dandruff, but does not cause dandruff in itself, as it is also found on the heads of people without dandruff. However, Malassezia feeds on sebum, specifically the saturated fatty acids that sebum contains. Higher sebum production leads to larger colonies of yeast fungi. A by-product of saturated fatty acid metabolism is free fatty acids, which irritate the skin. Irritated skin causes a reaction that accelerates the skin renewal process. As a result, dead skin clumps into larger formations, which we call dandruff. Men generally have a higher production of sebum than women and are therefore more prone to dandruff.
There are also a number of myths around dandruff that need to be corrected. Dandruff is not caused by dry skin, it is not a sign of insufficient hygiene and in no case does the application of olive oil on the scalp help against their formation. On the other hand, the saturated fatty acids contained in the oil make the situation worse. The formation of dandruff is also likely to be affected by season or stress. We are currently unable to fully get rid of dandruff. However, with age, the amount of sebum decreases and thus the amount of dandruff.