Stress and Dandruff

Woman with dandruff
Photo: Edoma/Shutterstock
Q: Is it true that stress can cause dandruff? What are other possible causes of dandruff?
A: Actually, while stress and dandruff are related in the level of severity of the condition, no studies have ever shown a causal link between stress and dandruff.
The commonly accepted cause of dandruff (which is medically referred to as pityriasis capitis) is the overabundance of the fungus malassezia (formerly called pityrosporum ovale).
Malassezia is a commonly-occuring fungus found in the skin of many animals, including humans, and is generally regulated by the body's own natural immune system and processes. Sometimes, due to specific conditions (a person's naturally oily scalp, environmental factors, etc.) the fungus' levels become excessive and cause irritation and the kills the skin cells of the scalp which fall away in thicker, clumpier flakes.
As stated, stress does not cause dandruff, but as stress can inhibit the function of the body's immune system, it can cause conditions of dandruff to be more severe (if not outright contributing to the imbalance in the level of the malassezia fungus in the first place).
See also:
Scalp problems
Dandruff shampoo
The difference between oily dandruff and dry dandruff