ZocdocAnswersDoes washing my hair too much make my scalp dry and flaky?

Question

Does washing my hair too much make my scalp dry and flaky?

I shower one or two times a day and wash my hair every time. I have flaky, white stuff that comes out of my hair though. Is it from washing my hair too much? Am I drying my scalp out? I use a hair dryer every time too.

Answer

It sounds like you are dealing with dandruff. Dandruff is actually a mild form of an inflammatory skin condition called seborrheic dermatitis, which causes itching, redness, scaling, and flaking of the skin of the scalp and sometimes also of other oil-producing parts of the skin such as the eyebrows and around the nasal creases. It is a common misperception that dandruff results from 'drying out' the scalp. In fact, the scalp is a very oil-rich part of the skin, and it is difficult to dry out. The flaking and itching actually result from inflammation and a buildup of excess skin, not from dryness. The solution to dandruff is not, therefore, to wash your scalp less but actually to wash it more. However, it is important to use a special dandruff shampoo, as the chemicals in the dandruff shampoo are specially formulated to help break up the scaly skin and kill off the fungus and other organisms which are potentially making the inflammation worse. You will want to start with an over the counter dandruff shampoo, initially using it once or twice a day and leaving it on the scalp for 5-10 minutes prior to rinsing. If this doesn't work, see your primary care doctor for stronger treatment options.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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