One in two people develop dandruff, one in five people have alopecia, but some are unlucky enough to have both.
Dandruff is one of the most prevalent skin concerns, identified by flaky skin on the scalp. These scales fall off, resulting in undesirable white spots on the eyebrows, eyelashes, shoulders, and clothes. On the other hand, hair loss happens when the number of fallen hair strands exceeds the growth over a significant time. Many individuals who have dandruff may also develop hair loss. But does dandruff lead to hair loss? Let’s talk about the relationship between them!
Can Dandruff Lead to Hair Loss?
There is a common belief that dandruff rarely leads to hair loss directly. Yet, some mechanisms link these two, including the common habitat both share: the scalp.
Based on scientific documentation, the link between hair loss and dandruff are as follows:
- Follicles injury because of scratching
- A condition known as Pityriasis amiantacea
- Individuals with androgenic alopecia
- Medical issues that lead to both
Follicles Injury Because of Scratching
Severe itching aroused by dandruff can cause individuals to scratch the scalp. In severe cases, some follicles may be injured, leading to hair strands falling out. However, this situation is not permanent.
In severe cases of dandruff, it is advised to see your physician so that you can prevent further complications.
A Condition Known as Pityriasis Amiantacea
Severe, persistent dandruff can harm the hair follicles and scalp, causing hair to drop or thin out. When the flaky scalp is left untreated, it may intensify and develop a rare skin condition known as Pityriasis Amiantacea.
Pityriasis Amiantacea is usually described by thick scales on the scalp. These flakes wrap around the hair shaft and can clump strands together. The flakes appear silver or yellow in colour. Separating them away from the hair or scalp may cause hair loss due to scarring. However, the hair falling is always reversible.
It is hard not to believe that the relationship between hair loss issues and the scalp structure have an undeniable connection. Since hair strands originate from the scalp, any factor that affects the scalp can harm the integrity of the hair.
Pityriasis Amiantacea may be caused by:
- Seborrhoeic dermatitis
- Scalp psoriasis
- Tinea capitis
- Atopic dermatitis
- lichen simplex
- Head lice
Male Pattern Baldness or Androgenic Alopecia
Androgenic alopecia is a widespread type of hair loss that is connected to male hormones. Although in men it may cause complete baldness, in women, Androgenic Alopecia leads to thinning hair. Male pattern alopecia is hereditary in both sexes and has a well-defined pattern. The hair starts falling out from the top of the temples, the line of growth constantly recedes to form an M shape.
Remarkably, dandruff exacerbates hair loss in people with male pattern baldness in some valid studies. So, if you have a family history of alopecia, seek dandruff treatment, as it may increase hair loss.
Pathological Situations That Can Cause Both Hair Loss and Dandruff
Although each has its particular causes, some health-related issues can lead to both dandruff and hair loss:
Seborrheic Dermatitis appears as a spectrum. Dandruff is on the milder end of it and can worsen and lead to itchy red patches and oily scales on various skin parts. Although dandruff is just on the scalp, other demonstrations of seborrheic dermatitis can spread to other areas.
Seborrheic dermatitis does not always cause hair loss. Still, the excess oil on the scalp linked with this kind of dermatitis can increase fungus called Malassezia. This fungus provokes inflammation, and this makes it harder for the surrounding hair strands to grow.
Want to learn more about seborrheic dermatitis and its relationship with Malassezia fungus and dandruff? Click on this link.
Psoriasis of the Scalp
Scalp psoriasis is a skin concern in which flaky patches form. This type of psoriasis can develop as a single patch or numerous patches. In some cases, it may even affect the whole scalp. Psoriasis of the scalp may also grow to the neck, back, and ears.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system mistakes its cells and organs with pathogens and attacks them. Specialists believe this mistake leads to the excess production of skin cells and the development of flaky patches. Although these scales are not real dandruff, scalp psoriasis leads to dandruff-like indications and can end in bald spots where the scaly patches develop.
Tinea Corporis or Ringworm
Tinea Corporis, known as ringworm, is a fungus that usually invades dead tissues in areas such as hair, nails, and dead skin on the scalp.
The immune system gets involved, followed by bacterial activity, which causes the skin to get red, inflamed, irritated, and itchy. Tinea Corporis is highly contagious. It makes circular lesions on the skin. That’s why it’s called ringworm. People with this type of infection may undergo severe itching, dandruff-like scales, and potential hair loss.
Folliculitis Decalvans (FD)
Folliculitis decalvans (FD) is a kind of rare skin concern associated with permanent inflammation of the follicles. Inflamed follicles cannot produce new strands, which usually end up in hair fall. Red patches with severe itching and purulent bumps around the affected follicles are some of the top symptoms. Intense itching in sufferers may lead to dandruff.
Lichen planopilaris is considered an autoimmune disease that is more common in young women. This hair issue affects the hair follicles and leads to persistent hair loss. Dry skin, itching in the affected area, and scaling are common symptoms. Lichen planopilaris can lead to hair falling out in clumps.
Demodex mites are tiny skin parasites that are invisible to the naked eyes and exist in low numbers in most adults. Similar to Malassezia fungus and some other microbes, they are part of the microbiome that occurs naturally on the skin.
You may know about Demodex in dogs. However, some Demodex species have been shown to live exclusively on humans. They play an essential role in worsening, triggering, and even creating skin issues like hair loss and dandruff. On the other hand, they have been shown to have a role in developing seborrheic dermatitis and Malassezia fungus, both of which are associated with hair loss and dandruff.
You can read this article to know more about Demodex mites and their role in typical skin and hair issues.
How Do Demodex Mites Create Dandruff?
Demodex mites secrete numerous inflammatory factors that provoke the immune system and lead to a cascade of inflammatory responses. These harmful reactions end up in inflammation and itching. If the Demodex mites are low in density, these toxic substances are easy to look over and do not cause a particular problem. However, under favourable conditions, like a vulnerable immune system, Demodex mites can reproduce. They secrete notable amounts of toxic compounds that lead to itching. Severe itching results in the host scratching the skin, leading to scaling.
Moreover, Demodex mites scratch the skin with their little claws, producing micro lesions. Consequently, skin cells grow and become hyper keratinized, which may lead to a dandruff-like condition. These scales, which are primarily cylindrical, are a symptom that shows Demodex infection on the eyelid. So, if you have inflamed, scaly eyelids with cylindrical dandruff at your eyelash base, there is a good chance that you have a Demodex infection.
Demodex mites can also aggravate dandruff based on what they carry inside. The Demodex body is a vector for harmful fungi like Malassezia and some species of bacteria. These microorganisms can cause and worsen seborrheic dermatitis and some other fungal infections.
How Can Demodex Lead to Hair Loss?
In severe cases of a Demodex mites’ infection, about 25 mites may fit into one hair follicle! They can physically harm the follicles, loosen the strands, and cause them to fall out.
On the other hand, the primary food source of Demodex is sebum, which is produced by the oil glands. Sebum is essential for skin and hair to grow normally and healthily. Besides skin oil, Demodex mites feed on minerals, hormones, vitamins, and dead cells.
Although they usually don’t pose a particular problem in small numbers, when they exceed 5 per square centimetre of skin, they plunder the skin’s food resources and weaken the hair so that starving strands can hardly grow. The strands constantly become thin and finally fall out.
On top of all, the toxic compounds that Demodex mites carry, can lead to oxidative reactions and inflammatory responses that affect the follicles and skin and increase hair loss.
As mentioned, Demodex has a role in aggravating seborrheic dermatitis, which is one of the underlying reasons for alopecia. To know more about Demodex mite-related hair loss, click here.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Skin issues leading to alopecia and dandruff are usually diagnosed via clinical examination. Still, it’s not the same for Demodex infection. These mites are not visible to the eye. Furthermore, Demodex mites often hang out under the follicles and oil glands, where they are completely out of reach. Because of that, sampling and counting them under the microscope is very challenging. Maybe that’s why their role in causing dandruff and alopecia has been ignored for so long.
Demodex mites in high populations can manifest indications that bring their existence out of the shadows. We do not have to find them under a microscope to ensure they are there; the signs always speak louder than words.
Demodex Mites Density Test
If you don’t know if Demodex mites are involved in your hair loss and dandruff troubles, take this 5-minute online test. This symptom-based test precisely estimates the density of Demodex on your skin. So if you have a high density of Demodex, you know you can do something to get rid of your hair loss and those embarrassing scales.
How You Can Control Demodex Mites
Since many of our everyday habits may strengthen Demodex, getting the mites under check needs comprehensive measures. For instance, consuming a lot of fried and oily food as well as applying greasy cosmetics and other healthcare products gives Demodex an additional source of food to proliferate. Furthermore, some bad habits weaken the immunity and help Demodex take control of the skin.
If you want to know more about these habits, refer to the habit tab of this link.
At Ungex, we have formulated unique products that have entirely altered the anti-Demodex industry. Our products are natural and herbal-based with no side effects, even when used daily for a long time. Ungex provides these products with a comprehensive guideline so that you can bring your Demodex mites under control in a short time.
You can apply most of our products to other parts of the skin in addition to the scalp. You can also use them in their diluted form on your ear canal and eyelids.
Demodex mites can move to your skin from other people’s items, which have direct contact with their skin and hair. These items include pillowcases, towels, bedding, hats, combs, beauty salon equipment, beautifiers, etc. You can stop Demodex from contaminating you by using a small amount of Ungex products on these items. Simply spray a little bit of the defined products, and you are safe from infection.
To Know more about Ungex products, click here.