Can Stress Cause Dandruff? How Does It Caused?


Well, this seems to be completely unrelated to each other. But, in fact, they are not two different entities that are completely dissociated from one another. Stress can be a solid reason why you are getting dandruff on your scalp. And if you are someone who is already suffering from the condition of dandruff-affected scalp, then, stress may easily aggravate the condition and add to the stress that you have been experiencing lately.

In this article, we will help you understand the relationship between dandruff and stress. We will also let you know the ways through which you may prevent, reduce, or remove the dandruff caused by stress. 

How Does Your Body Change When You Are Undergoing Stress? 

Releasing stress hormones is a normal functioning mechanism of your body. When you accidentally come across a stressful situation, your body may release hormones like cortisol and then the body becomes prepared to cope with the situation. Just like in the case of any emergencies, the body may also release these stress hormones and try to work out the coping mechanism whenever you are undergoing professional stress, relationship stress, physical stress due to tiredness, financial stress, family stress, and so on.

If these stressful conditions happen for a while and subside after a period of time, your stress levels would also consequently subside. When the stress levels come back to normal, the stress hormone levels would also come back to the former level since your body receives a rest command. 

This normal working mechanism of your body takes a different turn when the stressful situation gets retained for a prolonged period of time. In such a situation, your body may experience an elevated stress level and this can easily lead to hormonal imbalance too. Hormonal imbalances may also lead to illnesses and diseases such as severe headaches, insomnia issues, heartburn, increased blood pressure, blood sugar spikes, digestive issues, and even reproductive disorders.

Muscle fatigue can also be seen as a common symptom in people having a higher stress level and consequential hormonal imbalance. These issues may affect the overall health and wellness of your body, causing scalp issues such as increased hair fall and dandruff. 

Relationship Between Stress And Dandruff

The major reason why these two are not talked about much simultaneously is because they are not directly connected to each other. However, when the stress levels rise in the human body, a lot of different symptoms happen which can directly cause dandruff or worsen the condition of an already dandruff-affected scalp.

Relationship Between Stress And Dandruff

With increased stress levels, your immune system may also get weak day by day. Apart from this, the circulatory system of the body may also not work properly with increased stress levels. This sets a favorable environment for yeast and bacteria to grow and flourish on the scalp, causing dandruff. Your body has got mechanisms to prevent this growth, but all those systems may be suppressed when the stress levels are on a continuous hike. 

When the body undergoes continuous stress, it may also consequently increase the overall temperature of your body. As a result, your scalp may also undergo overheating and thus again it results in the flourishing growth of bacteria and yeasts on the scalp. The oils and minerals secreted by the sebum pores on the scalp would also remain on the scalp itself causing hygiene issues there and aggravating the dandruff infection.

As already mentioned earlier, an increased stress level may also cause disruptions in the endocrine system of the body. The hormonal imbalance caused due to this disruption may cause the sebum pores to produce more oils. These oils become the feed for the yeasts and bacteria growing on the scalp. When they feed on these oils, flaking and itching may also increase side by side. 

How To Deal With It? 

If stress is the cause of your dandruff, the best way to deal with it is to address the root cause itself. Have short sessions of meditation, start journaling, work out, or talk to a loyal friend regarding your situation. You may also consider taking expert medical opinions or attending a therapy session if you are not able to overcome the situation all by yourself. Using salicylic acid shampoos may also help meanwhile. 


While stress alone does not directly cause dandruff, chronic stress can exacerbate factors linked to flare-ups. Stress increases scalp oil production, compromises immune function, and throws off hormonal balance – all of which can worsen dandruff.

Managing stress through lifestyle changes, along with proper scalp care via shampoos, healthy diet and hydration, and anti-dandruff treatments as needed can help mitigate symptoms. Though multifactorial, addressing stress is key for reducing scalp itchiness and flakes associated with dandruff.

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Dr. David G Kiely is a distinguished Medical Reviewer and former General Medicine Consultant with a wealth of experience in the field. Dr. Kiely's notable career as a General Medicine Consultant highlights his significant contributions to the medical field.

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