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Is Dandruff a Fungus?

Is Dandruff a Fungus?

Dandruff is a skin condition seen in both adults and children that causes itching and flaking of the skin on the scalp. Dandruff is not a fungus. However, it can form due to a fungus on the scalp.

  • One of the most common causes of dandruff is a yeast-like fungus called Malassezia globose. Malassezia is found on almost every scalp, feeding on the naturally produced scalp oil called sebum. As Malassezia feeds on the sebum, it generates omega-9 fatty acids. 
  • These fatty acids, often called oleic acids, are carboxylic acid varieties and can irritate about half the population. This irritation causes the scalp to increase the rate at which it renews its skin cells as it tries to rid itself of whatever is irritating. These excess skin cells clump together and flake off as dandruff.
  • The simple presence of Malassezia does not indicate dandruff, as this microbe occurs naturally on healthy scalps. The scalp must be sensitive to the Malassezia-made oleic acids for dandruff to form.
  • It is important to note that dandruff is not directly caused by bad hygiene. However, unwashed hair can boost Malassezia growth, which can, in turn, lead to dandruff. Dandruff can also be caused by a skin condition called seborrheic dermatitis, which causes oily, red, and scaly skin that can flake off to create dandruff.

What may be the significant causes of dandruff?

Dandruff is a common scalp condition that causes flaking and itching of the skin. Till now, the most significant cause of dandruff has yet to be discovered. Several elements can contribute to its development:

Dry pores and skin: 

That is the most common cause of dandruff. While the scalp becomes dry and flaky, it results in dandruff formation.

Seborrheic dermatitis: 

This is another common skin circumstance that causes pink, itchy, and greasy skin. In intense cases, it can cause dandruff on the scalp.


A sort of fungus called Malassezia lives on most adults’ scalp. But, while it grows excessively, it may cause inflammation and dandruff.

Not shampooing enough or excessive shampooing: 

When the scalp isn’t cleaned regularly, oil and useless skin cells are collected, which may mainly form dandruff. Conversely, excessive shampooing can strip the scalp of its natural oils and purpose dryness.

Sensitivity to hair products: 

A few individuals can be sensitive to certain hair care products like shampoos, conditioners, or styling merchandise, leading to dandruff.

Contact dermatitis: 

Allergic reactions to some specific substances like hair dyes, soaps, or even certain clothing fabrics can cause dandruff-like symptoms.


Taking high stress can contribute to diverse skin situations, together with dandruff.

Other clinical conditions: 

Dandruff can also be a symptom of specific clinical situations like psoriasis, eczema, or a weakened immune system. It’s essential to remember that while dandruff is a common trouble, it’s also harmless and can be effortlessly controlled with appropriate scalp care and anti-dandruff products.

Is it Dandruff or a Scalp Fungus?

Though dandruff is not a fungus, several varieties can infect the scalp and cause dandruff-like symptoms. However, there are ways to differentiate between scalp fungus and dandruff. For example:

  • Scalp fungus can cause the hair to fall out in patches, as it weakens hair fibers and causes itching, which makes those suffering from the infection scratch and cause further hair loss
  • The fungus can form blisters on the scalp
  • Fungal infections on the scalp, if untreated, can lead to large swellings or bumps that can be painful and, if left untreated, can cause permanent scarring and hair loss.
  • Severe fungal infections on the scalp can cause swollen glands

If you see any of these symptoms beyond itching and flaking, it is vital that you see a doctor and be tested for a scalp fungal infection.

How To Get Rid of Dandruff?

In most cases, dandruff is simply irritating and embarrassing. However, in some cases, it can cause the scalp to be red, inflamed, and painful. When this happens to children, treating dandruff immediately is essential to prevent further irritation and discomfort.

The most effective way to treat dandruff in children is with dandruff shampoo products formulated especially for kids and which contain the ingredient pyrithione zinc. Pyrithione Zinc has anti-fungal properties that help reduce the quantity of Malassezia fungus on the scalp.

Pyrithione zinc is an FDA-approved active ingredient that eliminates the flakes associated with dandruff.   Dr. Eddie’s Happy Cappy Medicated Shampoo & Body Wash with Pyrithione Zinc is the only anti-dandruff shampoo formulated to treat children of all ages. There are similar adult shampoos for dandruff on the market, but they are not formulated for children and might contain harmful ingredients that are too harsh.

Happy Cappy Medicated Shampoo & Body Wash is fragrance, dye, sulfate, and BPA-free. Made with 95% natural ingredients:

  • Licorice root extract to soothe redness
  • Provitamin B5 to moisturize hair and skin
  • Pyrithione zinc for effective and fast relief of flakes, scale, and irritation associated with dandruff

Dr. Eddie’s unique formula targets dandruff at the source while protecting sensitive young skin. Find this effective yet gentle shampoo and body wash for dandruff on Amazon or Walmart.com or in select Walgreens and Buy Baby stores near you. Use Dr. Eddie’s Happy Cappy Medicated Shampoo & Body Wash daily until symptoms clear.


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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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What could be the major cause of dandruff?

There might be several causes of dandruff, including dry skin, oily skin, and irritated skin.

How to get rid of dandruff?

You need regular cleansing if you are suffering from mild dandruff. It is recommended to use a gentle shampoo to help reduce oil and skin cell buildup.

Are dandruff and fungus the same?

No, dandruff and fungus are not the same. Dandruff is caused by a fungus known as Malassezia, but itself is not a fungus. Both of them are different and should be treated differently. It is best to consult a doctor if you are unsure whether you have dandruff or fungus.

Will dandruff cause hair loss?

Dandruff does not directly cause hair loss. However, the hair follicles may become weak due to excessive scratching and dryness, resulting in the hair falling. But don’t worry, this hair will grow back naturally.

Will using oil make my dandruff worse?

You may have believed that oil helps treat dandruff, but that is untrue. Oil can cause more harm than benefit. When your scalp gets oily, it attracts more dirt, which can mix with dandruff and cause more itching.

How to identify if I have scalp fungus?

Scalp fungus usually appears in scaly, circular patches on the scalp. It can also cause hair loss in the form of patches. It can also cause blisters on the scalp; if not treated properly, it can lead to painful swelling and permanent scars.

Will my hair grow back after the scalp fungus gets better?

Yes, the hair will naturally grow back once the scalp fungus is treated and resolved.


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