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Can Dandruff Cause Acne? And How To Get Rid Of It?

Dandruff Cause Acne

If you are a teenager or have been through that phase, you would completely understand how awkward and annoying acne and dandruff are. But wait, why are we discussing them together? Is there a connection between dandruff and acne? Can dandruff cause acne?

Yes, even though you might have never considered it, DANDRUFF CAN CAUSE ACNE. In this blog, we will help you understand the relationship between acne and dandruff and how to get rid of it. But before that, first, take a look at what dandruff and acne are.

What Is Acne?

Acne is an inflammatory skin issue that can cause whiteheads, blackheads, papules, pustules, and pimples to form on the skin. Some of the most common causes of acne are.

  • Overactive sebaceous glands
  • A buildup of dead skin cells in the pores.
  • Bacteria clog the skin pores.

Each pore on the skin’s surface contains a hair follicle and sebaceous glands. The sebaceous glands are responsible for producing an oily substance called sebum that keeps your skin hydrated and smooth. The oil produced by sebaceous glands travels from the root of the hair follicles to the top, on the skin surface. 


The skin also produces a type of skin cells called Keratinocytes. Usually, when the new skin cells are formed, the old ones rise to the skin’s surface and shed. But when one is experiencing acne, due to the overproduction of sebum, sebum and the Keratinocytes stick together inside the pore, causing it to clog.

This prevents the cells from shedding and sebum from reaching the skin. Some bacteria live on the surface of the skin and are mostly harmless. But when this bacteria comes in contact with the mixture of sebum and cells, it causes inflammation, which leads to swelling, redness, lesions, and pimples.

What Is Dandruff?

Dandruff is a common scalp condition that causes small white flakes to appear on your scalp and fall down to your shoulders and everywhere else. Dandruff is a relative of a common scalp condition known as seborrheic dermatitis or cradle cap. Or you can say a less severe form of seborrheic dermatitis. 

In medical terms, it is called “pityriasis capitis.” Some of the most common causes of dandruff are.

  • Malassezia yeast
  • Dry scalp
  • Overproduction of sebum
  • Reaction to chemicals in hair products

The topmost layer of the skin called the epidermis contains certain cells that shed after a month, and new ones take their place. But when one is experiencing dandruff, these skin cells shed more often than usual. These cells appear as white dandruff flakes. 

Dandruff has two common types: oily dandruff and dry dandruff. Learn more about oily dandruff vs dry dandruff here.  

Can Dandruff Cause Acne?

Now let’s discuss more about why you are here. Can dandruff cause acne? The simple answer to this question is yes. Here’s how. 

Facial acne is very common, especially during the age of puberty. Puberty is also the time the dandruff begins. So, is facial acne caused by dandruff? Well, it certainly can contribute–let’s dive in.

During puberty and afterward, the whole body begins producing excess oil compared to the years before one became a teenager. 

The important thing here to understand is that it’s not only your facial oil glands that are producing more oil or sebum–it’s everywhere, yes, even on your scalp!

In addition to this excess production of oil worsening your acne, it is also contributing (in a bad way) to your dandruff. Malassezia yeast, a naturally occurring microscopic organism  that occupies our skin, was introduced in the section above. It mixes with sebum, the product of these oil glands, and creates a reaction that causes irritation which leads to excess shedding from your scalp.  When these dead skin cells fall on your face, they can also contribute to clogging the pores. 

However, anyone at any age can experience acne breakouts caused by dandruff. Several reasons, such as hormonal changes, stress, medicine, and increased oil production, can cause acne.

The most common places on the face where acne is caused by dandruff are the forehead, chin, nose, and cheeks. 

In conclusion, acne is caused when the excess oil on the skin mixes up with the Malassezia yeast and the dead skin cells, resulting in clogged pores that lead to dandruff. 

This is the same reason that causes scalp acne.

What Does Acne Caused By Dandruff Looks Like?

If you are experiencing acne because of dandruff, then you will most probably notice the following:

  • Acne mostly appears close to the hairline.
  • The pimples are mostly small and in groups.
  • The pimples are mostly on the forehead and near the ears.
  • Mild itching
  • Redness
  • If you are unable to diagnose it, then consult a dermatologist who will properly diagnose your condition.

Scalp Acne And Dandruff

Acne is mostly considered to appear on the face but can appear on other body parts. One of the least considered parts is the scalp. Yes, you heard it right: pimples on the scalp or scalp acne is also possible. Some of the common causes of scalp acne are.

  • Dead skin cells clogging the pores
  • Hair product buildup on the scalp
  • Not washing hair properly.
  • Sweating
  • Malassezia yeast.

If you wonder if dandruff causes scalp acne, yes it can. The clogging of pores by the dandruff flakes and the presence of sebum and Malassezia yeast on the scalp work together to form pimples on the scalp. 

Scalp acne usually appears as

  • Inflamed and swollen bumps
  • Papules
  • Small whiteheads
  • Pus-filled cysts inside the skin
  • Pimples that cause pain when touched
  • itching.

Acne And Dandruff Treatment

If you are experiencing acne caused by dandruff then it is important to control dandruff before treating acne. 

How To Get Rid Of Dandruff?

Dandruff Cause Acne

To get rid of dandruff, it is a good idea to use an anti dandruff shampoo. A dandruff shampoo that contains zinc pyrithione is the best option. Zinc pyrithione has a long track record for its safety and effectiveness in controlling flaking, and irritation associated with dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis, and cradle cap ( the common name for seborrheic dermatitis).

  • Wash your scalp with an anti dandruff shampoo 2 to 3 times a week.
  • Avoid using dandruff shampoo that contains harsh chemicals like fragrances, parabens, and sulfates.

Dr. Eddie’s Happy Cappy Medicated Shampoo For Dandruff And Seborrheic Dermatitis contains pyrithione zinc and is infused with natural ingredients. This anti-dandruff shampoo helps eliminate the recurrence of scalp flaking and scaling associated with dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis.

The best thing about this shampoo is it’s safe to use on babies, toddlers, teenagers, and adults. 

Acne Treatment

One thing you must do during and after the treatment of dandruff to control acne is to cleanse your face. 

  • Use a gentle cleanser to clean your face at least twice a day.
  • Use a gentle cleanser that is free from harsh chemicals.
  • Thoroughly wash your face to avoid any residue on the skin.

Happy Cappy Medicated Shampoo works as a shampoo, body wash, and face wash. 


If your acne is not getting better or is getting worse even after cleansing, then consult a dermatologist who may prescribe topical or oral acne medication. There are chances you may be experiencing severe acne or any other common skin condition.

Prevent Acne Caused By Dandruff

Even though acne caused by dandruff is out of your control, you can prevent it by taking extra care of your skin and following a few simple steps:

  • Try keeping your hair away from your face to prevent the dandruff flakes from falling on the face.
  • Brush your hair often to get rid of excess flakes on the scalp.
  • Keep your face clean as much as possible with the help of a face wash or gentle cleanser.
  • Avoid excessive hairstyling and skin products, especially those containing harsh chemicals.
  • If you use a conditioner, avoid using it on the scalp; instead, apply it only on the hair shafts and tips. 
  • Add anti-acne skin care products to your routine.
  • Try reducing stress with the help of yoga and exercise, as stress can worsen the condition.
  • Reduce the intake of carbohydrates.


Dandruff can cause acne, and the reason behind it is oil production. This excess production of sebum can lead to dandruff when it combines with dead skin cells. And can also cause acne when it mixes up with dandruff flakes and dirt on the facial skin. 

The dandruff flakes from the scalp can fall down to the face. When these flakes mix up with the sebum it can clog the pores, which can result in acne. If you are already experiencing acne, then dandruff can worsen it.

To get rid of dandruff and acne, consider one product that can simultaneously be used as a body wash, face wash, and shampoo to clean the scalp and skin and get rid of excess oil production. Consider a formulation with pyrithione zinc as it can help reduce scalp flaking, scaling, and irritation associated with dandruff. 


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Dr. Eddie Valenzuela is an award winning pediatrician and the founder and CEO of Pediatric Solutions, LLC.

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Is there a connection between acne and dandruff?

Yes, dandruff and acne are interlinked. When sebum production increases, it increases on both the face and the scalp. Oil, a.k.a. sebum, feeds Malassezia yeast and causes dandruff. When acne flares, dandruff may also fire up.

Can dandruff worsen acne?

Yes, if you are already experiencing acne, then dandruff on the scalp worsens it. When the dandruff flakes fall from the scalp onto the face it can contribute to clogged pores and worsen facial acne.

Can scalp acne cause hair loss?

In severe cases of acne, one may experience hair loss around the pimples.

How to remove dandruff from the face?

You can easily remove dandruff by cleansing your face with a gentle cleanser. Try using the one that helps relieve acne. Clean your face at least twice daily. And try keeping your hair away from your face to prevent dandruff flakes from falling on the face.

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