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Can Bleaching or Coloring Hair Cause Dandruff?

Can Bleaching or Coloring Hair Cause Dandruff?

Hair is called the crowning glory. That’s more than just because it’s on top of one’s head. With the many ways that hair is styled and worn, the way your hair is presented can often speak volumes about how you present yourself. As important as it is to take care of your hair, you don’t want to be associated with that bane of hair care that is dandruff. But what causes dandruff in the first place? And does bleaching or coloring hair cause dandruff or make dandruff more likely to happen?

What is Dandruff?

Dandruff is a common, non-contagious condition that sees the skin on the scalp starting to flake. Because of the flakes usually dropping onto one’s clothes, dandruff is often embarrassing and difficult to treat.

Dandruff is a mild form of seborrheic dermatitis and does not just appear on one’s scalp. Skin flakes may also appear on the skin, eyebrows, beard, or mustache.

When people have dandruff, the scalp may look scaly or red on top of feeling itchy and raw. When you scratch or rub your head, it loosens the flakes, hence the dropping on your shoulders. Dandruff signs and symptoms may be more severe if you are under stress and tend to flare up during cold, dry seasons as your skin, in general, gets drier.

What Causes Dandruff?

Among the causes of dandruff are irritated or oily skin, dry skin, a yeast-like fungus that feeds on oils on the scalps of adults, sensitivity to hair care products like shampoos and conditioners, and other skin conditions like psoriasis or eczema.

The amount of dandruff on the scalp and on hair is not always correlated. Dandruff does not mean that your hair is dirty. However, the way you style your hair or the products you use might cause a flaky scalp. Some hair coloring and styling products can leave a flaky, dry residue or trigger a skin reaction that looks like dandruff.

Thus, always bleaching or coloring your hair might not cause dandruff. They can, though, weaken the hair and scalp if done frequently enough.

Treating Dandruff

Anti-dandruff shampoo

Studies have shown that using certain shampoos and hair care products has proven effective in treating dandruff and addressing what causes dandruff. This was the case with a 2012 study that used a combination of anti-dandruff actives and silicones that were meant to treat dandruff and deliver superior sensory properties to hair. This combination of anti-dandruff agents and conditioning silicones provided subjects with superior anti-dandruff efficacy and desired end sensory benefits ensuring compliance and longer-term dandruff removal.


Aside from chemical-based antidandruff shampoos, dandruff can also be treated with antidandruff shampoo of the herbal-based variety. These shampoos contain antibacterial and antifungal ingredients like ketoconazole, selenium sulfide, zinc pyrithione, etc. Many herbal shampoos are now more readily available in the market with ingredients like plant extracts and essential oils.

While effective against dandruff, anti-dandruff shampoos may cause side effects such as hair loss, increased scaling, itching, irritation, nausea, etc. Herbal extract formulations are viable alternatives to synthetic drugs.

Hair and scalp products, both medicated and nonmedicated, are available as solutions, foams, gels, sprays, ointments, and oils.

Key Takeaways

What causes dandruff? While dandruff is most likely to appear on the scalp or on top of your head, flaky skin has also been known to appear on other parts of the body. These include the skin in general, the eyebrows, the mustache, and others.

Bleaching or coloring hair, in general, does not cause dandruff but always subjecting your hair and scalp to those and similar treatments may weaken your hair. Dandruff can be treated with standard antidandruff shampoos and those of the herbal variety. More and more of both can now be found more readily in the market, making dandruff more treatable than ever.

If you have any concerns regarding what causes dandruff and treatments, consult your doctor.

Learn more about Scalp and Hair Health here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Dandruff, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dandruff/symptoms-causes/syc-20353850, Accessed December 28, 2021

Revisiting dandruff, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1467-2494.2006.00326.x, Accessed December 28, 2021

Enhanced efficacy and sensory properties of an anti-dandruff shampoo containing zinc pyrithione and climbazole, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/ics.12007, Accessed December 28, 2021

A Review on Herbs Used In Anti-Dandruff Shampoo and its Evaluation Parameters, https://www.indianjournals.com/ijor.aspx?target=ijor:rjtcs&volume=4&issue=1&article=002, Accessed December 28, 2021

Dandruff and Seborrheic Dermatitis: A Head Scratcher, https://ust-lab.ru/research/b6a58d24689f654022af4e9d6c93a014a9cc.pdf, Accessed December 28, 2021

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Written by Jason Inocencio Updated 4 weeks ago
Fact Checked by Kristel Lagorza