Can Dandruff Cause Acne? Are Dandruff and Acne Related?

Yes, dandruff and acne are related! Though both conditions have different causes, they are both related to the skin and scalp’s oil production. That’s why many people – often teenagers in the midst of puberty – develop acne and dandruff at the same time.

The Causes of Dandruff?

The scalp produces a moisturizing and protecting oil called sebum. A naturally occurring, yeast-like fungus called Malassezia lives on the scalp, eats the sebum, and produces a byproduct called oleic acid. If there is too much sebum on the scalp, the Malassezia will release too much oleic acid, which can, in turn, cause the scalp’s skin cells to clump and flake off as dandruff.

Having dirty hair or bad personal hygiene does not cause dandruff. However, excess sebum can build up on the scalp if the hair isn’t washed regularly. This oily buildup can worsen flaking.

What Causes Acne?

Acne occurs when the pores on the surface of the skin get clogged with debris, dead skin cells, and extra sebum. If the skin produces too much sebum, it will mix with dead skin cells and environmental debris, block the pores, and trap acne-causing bacteria in the skin.

Oil Production Is the Link

Though dandruff and acne have different causes – fungus and skin debris, respectively – they are both triggered by an excess in sebum. That’s why teenagers going through puberty and adults with hormonal changes often experience both acne and dandruff at the same time.

Dandruff and acne are also related because dandruff can worsen existing acne. Dandruff flakes can drift down from the scalp and hair, land on the face, and contribute to the oily mixture that clogs pores and creates acne.

How to Get Rid of Dandruff and Dandruff-Related Acne

The best way to get rid of dandruff-related acne is to get rid of dandruff. Use these tips to help kick acne and curb dandruff:

  • Keep Hair off the Face – Keeping your hair away from and off of your face will help prevent dandruff flakes from getting onto your face, clogging your pores, and causing an acne breakout.
  • Brush Hair – Brushing your hair not only keeps it healthy, but it also helps loosen and remove dandruff flakes before they have a chance to drift down to your face. Brush your hair at least twice per day.
  • Use a Medicated Shampoo for Dandruff – Kick your dandruff once and for all with a dandruff shampoo for kids and young adults like Happy Cappy Medicated Shampoo and Body Wash.

Most dandruff shampoos on the market are made for adults and therefore have harsh ingredients that may be irritating for sensitive young skin. Dr. Eddie’s Happy Cappy Medicated Shampoo and Body is an anti-dandruff shampoo specifically made for kids and young adults with active ingredient Pyrithione Zinc and soothing Licorice Root Extract and provitamin B5. It’s safe to use daily until dandruff subsides as it’s free from fragrances, dyes, alcohol, and sulfates.


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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 dandruff dangerous for acne?

If the dandruff flakes fall to the face, they can block the pores, worsening acne.

Can dandruff affect your face?

Yes, dandruff can affect your face as well. It usually appears on the scalp but can be seborrheic dermatitis and spread to your face, ears, and neck.

How to protect my face from dandruff if I have acne?

The best way to protect your face if you have acne is by:
1. Wash your face at least twice daily with a gentle, medicated face wash.
2. Moisturizing the skin to protect it from becoming dry.
3. Keep your hair away from your face.

Can brushing hair help with dandruff?

Brushing is beneficial if you have dandruff. Brushing can help in removing the dandruff flakes from your hair. But be careful excessive brushing can be harmful to the scalp, so brush twice a day.

Can dandruff cause acne on the back?

Dandruff solely does not cause acne on the back. But if you already have acne, the flakes falling on your back can worsen your condition.

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