Got Flakes? It May Be More Than Just Dandruff

Apr 6, 2020 | Hair Care

Dandruff is common. Most of us have had it at some point. However, if it is persistent, thick, and falling on your shoulders, it could be something more serious called Seborrheic Dermatitis. (or seb derm as we call it in Dermatology.)  Seb derm is characterized by redness, itching, and thick flakes usually on the scalp but also on the face, and even ears or mid chest.

It is caused by high levels of yeast on the skin that promote inflammation. People with oily skin tend to me more prone (although most people associate flakes with dry skin).
It can get severe enough to cause hair loss so it is important to identify it and treat it properly (plus, who wants a blizzard floating around them?)

What should you do if you suspect this condition? The good news is, it is relatively easy to manage. The bad news is there is no cure to get rid of it completely.


  1. Avoid Triggers
Seb derm is often triggered by too much sugar, uncontrolled diabetes, and infrequent hair washing.  Try to limit your sugar intake for 30 days and see if things improve. It is also important to cleanse your scalp by either washing your hair or using a scalp cleanser (not the same as a dry shampoo) regularly.

  1. Use a Dandruff Shampoo. I don’t have a favorite here. People have such different hair types and textures as well as a variety of beautiful styles, it is hard to choose what I think is best for you. Just make sure it includes an ingredient targeted for dandruff such as zinc or salicylic acid.


  1. Avoid Organic Oils. Yes, I said it. But wait, let me tell you why.  Be patient while I nerd out for a moment.
While oil application may be risk free, a potential concern arises.  Seb derm is often caused by a yeast called Malassezia. Malessezia LOVES saturated and unsaturated fats. Organic oils (such as olive oil) contain both saturated and unsaturated fats and MAY be counterproductive to treat a condition caused by Malassezia.
Remember, this is not a condition of dry scalp, so adding oils does not improve the condition and can even make it worse.

  1. Scalp Massage
Not only does it feel good, but it also cleans scalp of scale before shampooing allowing the active ingredients to get to your actual scalp and do its job.

  1. See Your Dermatologist
If you have tried the above (consistently) and you are not seeing results, it may be time to see a Dermatologist. You might have scalp psoriasis or another scalp dermatitis that needs to be treated more aggressively.


Creator & CEO of Perfect Skin Code
Photo of Perfect Skin Code owner Kimberly Brown
Kimberly Brown

Perfect Skin Code was created by Kimberly Brown, a Physician Assistant in Dermatology, when she decided to create products for her patients who had trouble finding effective yet gentle skin care products.

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