What Causes Dandruff?

Dandruff can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'worrying' to 'very serious'.  Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.

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Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms.  In order to diagnose dandruff, we could:

  • Research the topic
  • Find a doctor with the time
  • Use a diagnostic computer system.
The process is the same, whichever method is used.

Step 1: List all Possible Causes

We begin by identifying the disease conditions which have "dandruff" as a symptom.  Here are six possibilities:
  • Psoriasis*
  • Vitamin B6 Need
  • Sjogren's Syndrome
  • EFA Need
  • Liver Congestion
  • Hypothyroidism
* symptoms can be very similar

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

We then identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
Heberden's nodes
macrocytic red cells
mildly elevated TSH
fatty food intolerance
dry eyes
microcytic red cells
anal itching
regular unexplained nausea
ear wax build up
poor mental clarity
negative reaction to coffee
major fatigue for over 12 months
... and more than 110 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of dandruff:
Cause Probability Status
Vitamin B6 Need 94% Confirm
Hypothyroidism 58% Possible
Psoriasis** 20% Unlikely
Liver Congestion 1% Ruled out
Sjogren's Syndrome 1% Ruled out
EFA Need 1% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process
** Symptoms can be very similar

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

In the Existing Skin Conditions section of the questionnaire, The Analyst™ will ask the following question about dandruff:
Do you have dandruff (Seborrheic Dermatitis)?
Possible responses:
→ No / don't know
→ Some
→ Significant
→ Severe
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate either dandruff or severe dandruff, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:

Hypothyroidism can manifest as dry, flaky skin.


Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin disease in which skin cells replicate at a rapid rate.  Although the symptoms of psoriasis – silvery scales covering reddened areas of the scalp – appear similar to dandruff, psoriasis is very different.  New skin cells are produced about 10 times faster than normal, but the rate at which old cells are shed is unchanged.  Live cells then accumulate and form the thick patches covered with flaking skin.

Vitamin B6 Requirement

A vitamin B6 deficiency can cause dandruff.

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