Dandruff: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 5/5/2021

Dandruff refers to excessive exfoliation, or shedding, of the skin of the scalp.

Signs and symptoms of dandruff include flakes of skin that range from small and white to large, greasy, and yellow, skin flaking that appears on the scalp or eyebrows, around the hairline, ears, or nose, or in the center of the chest or back, and irritated or oily skin. Itching may or may not be present.

Causes of dandruff

Dandruff can be caused by seborrhea or seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp, an itchy red rash that is believed to be related to a yeastlike fungus (Malassezia) that is present on the scalps of most adults. Dandruff is not caused by excessive shampooing or hair color products.

Other dandruff symptoms and signs

  • Irritated or Oily Skin
  • Itching
  • White or Yellow Skin Flaking on the Scalp, Face, Ears, Chest, or Back


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Jameson, J. Larry, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 20th Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2018.