Is Dandruff Contagious?

So, is dandruff contagious?

Dandruff (Pityriasis Simplex Capillitii), also referred to as seborrheic dermatitis, is a scalp condition characterized by a series of skin scalp flakes that form and shed on the human scalp. So, is dandruff contagious?

The flakes consist of dead cells, which are usually shed at a high momentum than normal until they’re widely conspicuous in the hair and on clothes. The real cause of dandruff is not well known, but some people speculate it has something to do with variations in a person’s hormone production.

Yes or no? Is dandruff contagious?

Let's find out, is dandruff contagious? No, dandruff isn't contagious nor is it infectious. However, the scalp condition may further worsen if certain fungi or yeast levels on the scalp increase in numbers. As the levels of these microbes increase in number, overactive flaking occurs on a person’s scalp. And since most of these organisms are usually present on the skin, they're not deemed contagious and hence can't be the real cause of dandruff.

However, walking dandruff, a skin condition that's found in dog skin infected with small mites, could be a contributing factor to dandruff. This is because the mites can easily spread to other animals and even humans. And this means walking dandruff in cats, dogs, and other animals can be contagious to people. Nevertheless, walking dandruff found in both animals and people can be treated with typical medications specially designed to kill mites. But this is not in any way related to dandruff found commonly on people's scalp.

What causes dandruff?

The real cause of dandruff (Pityriasis Simplex Capillitii), also known as scurf, is unknown. However, many experts agree that dandruff isn't caused by poor hygiene but rather by the human body itself. This is because many individuals carry some high levels of dandruff on their scalp. And as the dandruff volume increases, they slowly start becoming conspicuous in other parts of the body, such as in the nasal folds on the face.

Other secondary contributing factors that can cause dandruff include a high level of yeast exposure, not enough hair brushing, dry skin, and some bout of illness. A reaction to hair or skincare formulas, a change in diet, and mental stress can also lead to dandruff on the scalp.

How can a person know if he or she has dandruff?

A person will most likely know their scalp has dandruff if they experience frequent episodes of whitish, dry-appearing thin flakes in the hair, on the scalp, or on the clothes. Some people may also experience episodes of itching from dandruff.

On the other hand, some signs and symptoms of dandruff may fade after gaining control and managing stress. Likewise, some people may find a reduction in symptoms and signs during the summer months.

Treatments available for dandruff

Although there's no remedy for dandruff, people can seamlessly control and significantly reduce the signs and symptoms associated with dandruff. This can be attained through over-the-counter dandruff shampoos with active compounds like zinc pyrithione, selenium sulfide, or salicylic acid.

Be aware, these shampoos are not a cure for dandruff and they also cause smaller and less visible flakes shed on the scalp similar to dandruff. All the same, frequent washing even with typical shampoo can far reduce dandruff signs and symptoms.

In summary, dandruff is a condition of the scalp that allows flakes of skin to form and appear within. Many times, dandruff is accompanied by severe itching, which can become rather embarrassing and impossible to treat. Dandruff appears in great numbers on the scalp when a person reaches puberty.

Babies too can have dandruff and yellow, scaly patches on the scalp. This is called cradle cap, and it frequently appears in babies within the first two months, though it vanishes eventually after a few weeks or months.

On the other hand, most individuals don't have to seek a medical caregiver about dandruff. But if itching becomes unbearable and is linked to dandruff, seeing a skin specialist can come in handy. Similarly, if dandruff shampoo doesn't work effectively and inflammation levels keep getting worse, a doctor's opinion and guidance should be acknowledged.

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Last Reviewed:
July 19, 2017
Last Updated:
October 03, 2017