✛ Why dandruff could be causing hairloss

Do you have dandruff? 
Itchy scalp? 
And would you ever think that this could cause you hairloss? 

Probably not. Few know that dandruff is a type of fungus called Malassezia globosa. 

What are things to watch out for?

  • Dandruff 
  • Itchy Scalp
  • Diffuse Hair Loss
  • Gradual Thinning of Hair
  • Rapid thinning of the hair down the lengths
  • Short regrowth
  • Increased shedding
  • And in some cases it is invisible and symptom free! Read on to learn why.

You may have all of these symptoms, or just very few. It does not always have to be accompanied by itching or even obvious flakes. Also, not everyone loses and increased amount of hair. What people fail to understand is that dandruff is ALWAYS a fungus. It isn't dry skin or the poduct you are using. Certain products may just aggravate it more. 

Lots of baby hairs and rapid taper are definitely a good indicator. Or when hair comes out everytime you handle your hair. It is also not normal to lose lots of short hairs between 1/2 inch and 3 inches.

Dandruff sufferers shed skin more rapidly. The fungus actually feeds on them by using enzymes called lipases to metabolize the oils, which creates a by-product called oleic acid. The acid penetrates your skin and triggers skin cell shedding.  Some dandruff sufferers can get temporary relief by washing their hair more often.

Dandruff can also be invisible!

I did not make the connection for a long time because I did not have any symptoms or visible dandruff. Yet I lost hair because of it. It really only started showing after using antifungals for some time. What looked like a normal scalp, eventually began flaking off. So in truth it was a layer of skin that I did not notice. Sometimes individuals notice they will have dandruff with certain products and not with others. That is because certain products can trigger more flakes to come lose while others don't. To see if there actually is a fungal problem, anti fungal products could be used for a trial period to see if the scalp will flake off and clear. Shedding can be reduced about 3 weeks into using anti fungals and should completely stop after 3 months latest.

Brushed scalp and dandruff flakes near thinned temple. My left temple was always worst affected.

My own dandruff/ hairloss problem really creeped up on me. I did not have flakes, I did not have itching at first. Just unexplained hairloss, that was not intense, but with time my hair gradually thinned. It would always regrow and I was a big ball of fuzzy regrowth. I think an average person that does not have very long hair or monitors their hair thickness...may not have noticed the thinning. Above shoulder length my hair was still of medium thickness because it always regrew, but fell out before the thickness could reach the lengths.

It took me a while to figure out a fungus was causing my hairloss. Though I have been having the suspicion since Summer 2014, it took me until fall to stop it. I tried natural remedies first like apple cider vinegar, probiotic and prebiotic drinks, but it wasn't strong enough and some like ACV were just very inconvenient and stinky. I tried using anti fungal cream, but it was a hassle to apply and diluted also meant less potent. That is how I had the idea to give anti fungal solution a try, which is normally used for nail fungus. It is easily applied and not as smeary as anti fungal cream. The brand I used is called "Canesten" and based on Clotrimazole. My pharmacist had to order it for me. Not all anti fungals work great for me but anything containing clotrimazole did. 

I can create a small ponytail with the regrowth that falls out when putting up my hair. There is much more in there that I can not get to. Most of my hair is actually short.

(*If you have visited hair forums before, you may know of using vaginal cream for the scalp for faster hair growth. How it worked however was mysterious and I now assume it has to do with the antifungal properties of the cream. A fungus may not only cause hair loss, it can also inhibit growth some. Plus, when hair is shedding less growth can become more noticeable because it will take much longer for ends to taper.)

Aside from Anti Fungal Solution what cleared up my fungus quickly was a product called Selsun Blue (Selsun in Europe) which contains Selenium. The product I was using is applied in the shower and left on for 5-10 minutes. I found that closer to 10 minutes it actually burned so I only left it on for 5. After the first two washes my scalp was flaking off like crazy. But after a while it was completely flake and itch free, which is a bit harder to obtain with anti fungal solution. I also tested it on my face and found that it was more potent than cream alone. It basically made me not need any exfoliation during the week.

There is some interesting new info that I came across which says that a fungus often is related to an imbalance in the fats you are eating.
Dandruff, as well as other dry-skin conditions, can often be a sign that you have a fatty acid imbalance. This is a very common problem, as your standard American diet (SAD) is far higher in omega-6 than omega-3. Your ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats is 1:1. But the current ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 in the average American diet varies from 20:1 to 50:1!

Your primary sources of omega-6 are corn, soy, canola, safflower, and sunflower oil; these oils are overabundant in your typical diet, which explains your excess omega-6 levels. Omega-3, meanwhile, is typically found in flaxseed oil, walnut oil, and fish.

More than 2,000 scientific studies have demonstrated the vast array of health problems associated with omega-3 deficiencies. Usually I talk about omega-3 in the context of improving brain function, and preventing chronic diseases like diabetes, arthritis, heart disease and cancer.

However, omega-3 deficiencies can also have a negative impact on your skin, creating skin-related problems, such as:

  • Eczema
  • “Alligator” skin
  • Cracked heels
  • “Chicken skin” on the back of your arms
  • Dry, unmanageable hair
  • Dandruff

Supplementing your diet with good quality omega-3 in the form of krill oil or fish oil could help alleviate these troublesome and uncomfortable symptoms. Eliminating bad oils is also a must. Zinc is also known to successfully reduce fungus. So Zinc supplementation can be a helpful addition. 

In addition to that, keep in mind that everything you slather on your skin, and put on your scalp goes into your bloodstream, and can affect your overall health and internal balance. Virtually all of your regular shampoos and conditioners contain harmful chemicals that can create skin irritation, contributing to dry scalp and excessive dandruff.
SLS also increases the production of oils to the point where the scalp is too oily. The fungus can then feed on the skin oils. Furthermore SLS increases cell turnover. So skin cells also shed more rapidly. In the end you are dealing with a fast regrowing fungus that gets lots of fuel in form of skin oils.

I recommend buying organic personal-care products that do not contain parabens and sodium laureth, or lauryl sulfate. The latter two are known eye and skin irritants. 

The only time one should use Sodium Laureth Sulfate is if you are not able to get the fungus under control. It may seem odd to recommend something that is actually not good but SLS can help speed up the skin cell turnover and therefore more efficiently remove flakes. On top of that SLS is very aggressive at removing skin oils. The very oils that the fungus feeds on. With washing daily, you will keep your scalp clean so to say. Please don't make the mistake to stretch washes while using SLS shampoo. It won't work if you have a fungal problem and only make things worse like described above.

I actually had to do this for some time, because organic shampoo would not remove all the flakes and my scalp would be left with more itching too. Just something to keep in mind.

Hormonal Imbalances and Fungus

A fungus can not always be blamed on diet alone. I suspect that the connection to hormones is also very strong. Everyone who has been pregnant or has a period knows the impact of hormones to some degree. But especially in pregnancy your hormones make their presence known. The effects vary from person to person but I suspect someone who has already experienced hormonal imbalances prior to pregnancy could have more problems with them during pregnancy. Hormones can also have an effect on digestion and therefore make it easier for Candida to grow. In pregnancy digestion is slowed down to deliver more nutrients to the growing baby, but this also gives foods that are difficult to digest a chance to stay in your digestive tract longer than it is good for you.

My own experience fits this theory - I first experienced a bit of Candida after being on the pill for some years. The pill that had once kept my skin clear suddenly caused me to have dry patches with tiny pimples on my face. Mainly cheeks and nose. I would also get larger zits on my forehead and chin. 
Overall I did not have bad skin but it was just never completely clear and even. Summer 2009 I quit the pill and the Candida problem disappeared...until...I was put on thyroid medication, which resulted in Candida and acne much worse than on the pill. Back then I did not know what it was and only knew my thyroid medication had caused me dry, irritated, flaky skin and some annoying breakouts. 
I was close to quitting it because it also affected my hair negatively, but then I got pregnant with Aodhan and had to stay on it. I was also taking cabergoline for my pitutary tumor so that is LOTS of artificial hormone added to my own. The first trimester was horrible...hormones were literally kicking my ass. I had recurrent Urinary Tract Infections, Vaginal Yeast infections, hormonal acne and the facial yeast. On top of that lots of nausea and just generally feeling very unwell. When I was pregnant in 2009 however, I had no symptoms other than very clear skin. Back then I was not taking anything. My 2009 pregnancy resulted in a miscarriage because of medical error, so I only made it into the 10th week. I had the vaginal yeast problem all throughout my pregnancy with Aodhan. However, after pregnancy the facial yeast and vaginal yeast disappeared. 
At one year postpartum my period returned and that was actually when things got really bad for me. Aside from a very irregular cycle and painful PMS, I had the worst case of facial yeast ever, slowly causing bad acne and my hair fell out from it for the first time. And as you know it took me almost 2 years to fix this completely.

Back to digestion and hormones, during my time with bad facial and scalp yeast, improving my digestion and adjusting my hormones with supplements* definitely had an impact on my yeast problem. My skin cleared up a good deal when I kept up with probiotics, digestive enzymes and herbal supplements for my hormones. It just did not fix the problem completely. Same with sticking to my diet. It did improve things but did not have the power to fix it fully. I am guessing that maybe a healthy pregnancy could correct things. But this is just a theory too. 

I hope this article provided some more detail about the causes of Candida and maybe these new treatment options will benefit you. :)

* you can read more about these supplements in 20127 2013 posts.

Don't forget to check out my other posts about Candida!


  1. Wow, this is interesting! I can relate to almost all the symptoms you described. I will definitely try anti fungal treatment for my scalp and check on my omega-3...
    Thanks for this post, I now have new hope for less tapered hair someday - that would be amazing!

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  2. very interesting! that would explain the baby hairs and my extremely increased hairloss since august... how do you use the canesten cream? smear on the scalp at night and wash it out in the morning? i have some at home and I would like to give it a try.

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  4. Interesting! I was totally unaware that dandruff and hairloss is so closely related. I do feel few of the symptoms, but now all thanks to your post I know what has to be done now.


  5. I have battled dandruff for years. I can offer some info that I learned from my years of this:
    1. Hormones really affect it.
    2. There are different levels of dandruff--the more severe, the more you will be shedding hair. I was shedding fistfulls at one point (what a MESS!)
    3. Stress is linked to dandruff flares. This is what caused mine---two heavy stress times and then a hormonal shift(pre menopause for me)

    For regrowth/length, I managed to stay at tailbone with frequent micro trims. My regrowth was only visible at the back/underneath part of my neck (nape) and hair line. I had what is called geometric dandruff--it was patches around my scalp like a globe. The worst it got was when I was homeless --oddly enough after I found a place to live, about six months later, the stress hit me. My scalp was encrusted in white, painful scales (could have been psoriasis) that bled when picked. This was when I was losing the most hair. I had a lot to begin with so it wasn't as noticable as my next two sheds due to age/hormones.

    The first flare, the worst, with the scales, my doctor prescribed a steriod drop and I was very careful in how much I used. In fact, I only used it once because the itching was SO BAD! And one use it cleared right up. Now, I am VERY sensitive to medications so that didn't surprise me--I don't use a lot so the one application worked. For the other bouts, I used the following products which DID work, but had their own side effects:

    1. Nizoral: this is good for moderate to severe breakouts. WARNING: This will cause discoloration in colored hair and why I can no longer use it.(the warning is more for blonds who color, but I'm not risking it). SIDE NOTE: This will cause MORE itching because it's healing the problem below the surface. The fungus lives below your scalp line and this is why you need to leave it on the scalp (Shampoo or any treatment) for several minutes. This stuff smells HORRID! But, after a few uses, I went back to my normal routine and was fine.

    Head and Shoulders: Works the best on mild to moderate dandruff. IS DRYING. Always CWC with this. Safe for color treated hair

    ONe side note--no matter what dandruff shampoo I used, I found it dried my ends over time. I have since been CWC and I now wash daily with a clarifying shampoo again and my dandruff is gone. The fungus that cause dandruff feeds on excess sebum. Not washing daily for me (oily scalp) was the worst thing. Basically I was feeding the fungus. I'm not a fan of daily washing if I had to choose, but my scalp has been perfect since!! I do have to CWC sometimes , but after 3 yrs, I have finally gotten my ends thickened.

    I hope this helps!!

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  8. Hi! Just wondering if the Canesten you used also had hydrocortisone in it? They make 2 versions I believe. One with the steroid and one without.

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