The Ultimate Guide To Dandruff: Causes, Treatments And More

“What are those white flakes on your hair?”

Finding dandruff on your head and shoulders can be annoying but having friends point it out can be embarrassing to boot.

Don’t let dandruff affect the way you feel about yourself. With the right scalp care and treatments, you can manage your condition instead.

To help you with this, we’ve put together a guide on everything from the causes of this condition to available dandruff treatments in Singapore.

What is Dandruff?

What is dandruff

Dandruff is a common scalp condition among men and women. Half of the general population across the world are affected by it. The symptoms of dandruff include:

  • Dry or greasy flakes on the scalp and hair
  • Itching of the scalp
  • Yellowish or reddish bumps on the hairline (severe dandruff)

Although it is harmless, dandruff can be uncomfortable and affect your confidence. In some cases, the flakes are large and oily, causing your hair to look unclean.

The Different Causes of Dandruff

Dandruff is typically caused by a combination of bacteria, dead skin cells and a naturally occurring oil on the scalp called sebum. It can be triggered by a number of reasons and the following are some of the most common:

Seborrheic Dermatitis

Seborrhea skin and hair. Dandruff seborrheic dermatitis. Dysfunction of the sebaceous glands. Inflammatory skin disease.

Seborrheic dermatitis is caused by a yeast-like fungus called Malassezia globosa that naturally lives on the skin. It is a chronic form of eczema that occurs on areas of the body secreting the most sebum such as the scalp, face and chest.

Malassezia globosa thrives in warm, humid environments and feeds on sebum on the scalp. This breakdown of sebum may be seen as an irritant and the body responds by accelerating the growth of skin cells, causing dandruff to form as they accumulate.

Scalp Psoriasis

Scalp Psoriasis

Scalp psoriasis is a skin disorder which can cause dryness and flakes to appear on the scalp. It can affect any area of the scalp and is characterised by thick, inflamed and reddish or white scaly patches.

The extreme itching and dryness that are brought on by scalp psoriasis can cause cracks and bleeding. Without treatment, this condition may also spread to your face.

Dry Skin

Man Symptom Scalp Scaly Patches Illustration

A dry scalp or skin can be the result of insufficient water intake, your lifestyle or dry weather. A scalp that is dry can be easily irritated and is more prone to flaking and dandruff.

To know whether you have dandruff and not just dry hair, though, your doctor will look for the overproduction of the yeast Malassezia, along with an excessive amount of oil on your scalp.

Knowing whether you just have dry scalp or dandruff will help you receive proper care and permanently get rid of those white flakes.

Dry Skin

Shampooing Habits

Leaving your hair unwashed for long periods can lead to the buildup of sweat, sebum, dead skin and bacteria, making your scalp susceptible to dandruff. Your scalp can be aggravated when you live in a humid climate like Singapore’s, where the weather is always hot and you sweat easily.


Stressed Woman Having a Dandruff Problem

Stress can have a major impact on your physical and mental health, and it can also affect the health of your scalp.

Stress can induce hormonal imbalances that cause dandruff. It raises cortisol levels, kicking sebum production into overdrive and making your scalp oily. The result is an inflammatory reaction and those pesky dandruff flakes.

Good Hair Care Habits For Dandruff

Good hair care habits for dandruff

Wash your hair with a gentle, anti-dandruff shampoo in Singapore. Make sure to lather up the shampoo and spread it over the scalp thoroughly. Doing this at least twice a week will help remove scalp build-up and keep the scalp hydrated.

Effective anti-dandruff ingredients in shampoos include:

  • Ciclopirox
  • Coal tar
  • Salicylic acid
  • Sulfur
  • Selenium sulfide
  • Zinc pyrithione
  • Ketoconazole

2. Avoid over styling

Prolonged use of hair styling products can irritate your scalp. Instead, choose products with gentle formulas or reduce styling by opting for more casual and natural styles.

3. A balanced diet

A balanced diet that contains essential nutrients such as zinc, B vitamins and Omega-3 can ward off dandruff. Below are some food sources of these nutrients.


Examples: Red meat, poultry, oats, oysters, legumes and sweet potatoes.

B Vitamins

Examples: Broccoli, leafy green vegetables, chickpeas and kidney beans.


Examples: Salmon, tuna, walnuts, and flaxseed oil

4. Manage your stress

Raised cortisol levels can contribute to the overproduction of sebum and lead to dandruff. To keep cortisol levels low, you must learn to better manage your stress. Here are some ways you can cope with stress:


Regular exercise can effectively reduce stress and anxiety, as well as improve sleep quality. Exercise reduces cortisol levels and stimulates the production of endorphins, which are hormones that help to promote feelings of well-being and relaxation.

Make time for hobbies

Don’t forget to make time for activities that you enjoy. Hectic schedules sometimes get in the way of that, but setting aside time for rest and recreation can help you relieve your stress.

Talk to a friend

If you have a lot of things weighing on your mind, talking to a friend, a family member or a therapist can help you cope better. They are usually willing to listen and can even suggest helpful solutions to the issues that you are dealing with.

Eliminate your triggers

Eliminate the main sources of your stress. Start by identifying what they are and reduce them as much as you can. These could be related to your job, studies or relationships.

Home Remedies For Treating Dandruff

Home remedies for treating dandruff

If your dandruff is not severe and if you don’t feel ready to visit a specialist yet, you might be looking for some home remedies. Here are some that you can try.

1. Apple Cider Vinegar

The ideal pH level of a scalp should be 5.5, which is slightly acidic.  Many hair care products, including  shampoos, have higher pH levels. Excess sebum and sweat can also affect the scalp’s pH level and irritate it. Apple cider vinegar can help counteract this effect.

The acetic acid in apple cider vinegar can rebalance the acidity of your scalp, thereby reducing dandruff symptoms. Its antifungal abilities can also limit the growth of fungi-causing dandruff such as Malassezia globosa.

To use apple cider vinegar to treat dandruff, it’s best to create a solution. Follow these steps:

  1. Mix one part apple cider vinegar and one part water.
  2. Once the solution is mixed, apply it to the scalp and massage it in for about five minutes.
  3. Allow the solution to sit for fifteen minutes before rinsing it out.
  4. Finally, shampoo the hair and scalp as normal.

You can try this natural treatment two or three times a week for best results.

2. Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is a powerful antifungal, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory essential oil. It can reduce the fungus that causes dandruff as well as soothe any inflammation or irritation on the scalp.

To use tea tree oil to treat dandruff, you have to mix it with a carrier oil. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. First mix a few drops of tea tree oil in a carrier oil such as coconut or jojoba oil.
  2. Massage the mixture into your scalp and leave it on for a few minutes.
  3. Rinse it off with a mild shampoo.

For best results, use this tea tree oil treatment two or three times a week.

3. Baking Soda

Baking soda is another natural remedy that can be used to manage dandruff. Baking soda is a natural exfoliant that can remove dead skin cells and excess sebum on the scalp. Its antifungal properties also help fight fungus that cause the formation of dandruff.

Simply mix a couple of tablespoons of baking soda with water to form a paste and massage it into the scalp. Leave it on for a few minutes and then rinse it off with lukewarm water.

Prescription-based Treatment

Prescription-based treatment

If hair care and natural remedies do not work for you, you may seek a physician for a prescription-based treatment. There are various topical treatments that are commonly prescribed for dandruff.

Antifungal medication to fight the dandruff-causing fungus can include:

  • Ketoconazole
  • Ciclopirox

These can come in the form of a gel, cream, lotion and even shampoo.

A separate prescription may be required to control the inflammation of your scalp. Your physician may order for a corticosteroid to be applied on the scalp in the form of ointment, cream or lotion. Types of corticosteroid treatment include:

  • Hydrocortisone
  • Fluocinolone
  • Clobetasolb
  • Desonide

Tricholab Treatments For Dandruff

TrichoLab treatments for dandruff

TrichoLab is a hair and scalp clinic in Singapore specialising in hair and scalp restoration. If you would like your dandruff condition to be assessed by professional scalp specialists, TrichoLab offers a few dandruff treatments in Singapore.

1. Scalp Exfoliating Treatment

The Scalp Exfoliating Treatment is designed to deeply cleanse your scalp, removing dirt, sebum, and other buildup. It is aimed at leaving your scalp feeling rejuvenated and clean.

A detailed scalp analysis will be done to check the condition of your scalp before the treatment. This will guide the scalp specialist in customising the treatment according to your needs and ensure it is suitable and effective for you.

The Scalp Exfoliating Treatment involves the use of  a physical or chemical exfoliant to remove excess dead skin cells, sebum and dandruff.

This treatment benefits you by:

  • Clearing away dandruff and build-up
  • Soothing redness and irritation
  • Minimising formation of dandruff and flakes
  • Preventing itching
  • Promoting hair growth and shinier hair

The treatment will be completed with the application of a multi-vitamin serum to give your scalp an added boost. The Scalp Exfoliating Treatment is 90-minutes long and requires no downtime. It costs $212 and is available at all TrichoLab outlets.

2. Scalp Revival Treatment

The Scalp Revival Treatment uses the natural exfoliating properties of salicylic acid to clear away dandruff and buildup. It is then followed by a scalp revival mask, steam, and the application of a nano mist essence for the absorption of hydrating nutrients into the scalp.

The key benefits of the Scalp Revival Treatment are:

  • Purify your scalp of grime and environmental build-up
  • Clear away dandruff
  • Minimise dandruff formation
  • Hydrates and soothes the scalp

This treatment is formulated to give you a calmer, fresher and cleaner head of hair that is well hydrated to prevent dandruff. The Scalp Revival Treatment is 75 minutes long and requires no downtime. Its cost starts at $168 and it is available at all TrichoLab outlets.

3. Dandruff Prevention Treatment

The Dandruff Prevention Treatment in Singapore helps to exfoliate and soothe your irritated scalp. It uses the power of papaya enzymes to gently slough away dandruff and centella asiatica, green tea extract to regulate sebum levels, and peppermint extract to soothe your scalp inflammation.

The key benefits of this treatment benefits you are:

  • Clears away existing dandruff and environmental build-up
  • Minimises flaking and dandruff formation
  • Calms redness and irritation
  • Prevents itching
  • Treats fungal infections

Every treatment at TrichoLab will be followed by a post-treatment scalp analysis to check the condition of your hair and scalp after the treatment. This helps us to determine its efficacy and advise you on the next steps of care.

Dandruff Prevention Treatment spans 90 minutes and requires no downtime. It costs $212 and is available at all TrichoLab outlets.

3. Dandruff Prevention Treatment

Having dandruff is not the end of the world. You can manage it by trying some home remedies. But if you still struggle with the condition and require professional help, a scalp specialist can be the answer you need.

TrichoLab’s dandruff treatments are available at each of our outlets in Singapore. Contact us now to schedule a consultation with us.