Is Dandruff Contagious? Let’s Discuss

HK Vitals

Medically Reviewed By Dr. Aarti Nehra

Is dandruff contagious? Can dandruff spread from one person to another? The list of questions about dandruff can be endless. Thankfully, the embarrassing skin condition does not spread from one person to another. It is believed that dandruff starts from poor hair hygiene, but research shows that it is not the primary link. Therefore, the starting point of dandruff can be a skin condition, overly sensitive skin, or diet and lifestyle habits.

What is Dandruff?

Dandruff is a scalp condition marked by the presence of white flakes. They cause itchiness and typically come out loose, covering the hair and clothing. While it is not a serious medical condition, it is often seen as an embarrassing and difficult-to-treat one. People often wonder, is dandruff contagious? But amid all the downsides of dandruff, the good news is that it is not contagious. 

The Science Behind Dandruff

Malassezia Globosa is a yeast-like fungus that is naturally present on the human skin (commonly on the scalp). The fungus breeds on scalp sebum, producing a by-product known as oleic acid. Unfortunately, more than half of the human population is seen to be sensitive to oleic acid. This can cause an inflammatory reaction and a person may begin to experience the maturity of skin cells within 7 days as against the normal duration of a month. What results is the presence of dry skin flakes, red patches on the scalp, and severe itchiness, the characteristic features of dandruff.

Is Dandruff Contagious?

As every person’s immune response to oleic acid is unique, dandruff is not contagious. The breakout and severity of the condition will depend on the person’s immune response.

Is Dandruff Hereditary?

Dandruff is not a hereditary condition. One is not likely to develop the condition even if it runs through generations. But what one can inherit is certain skin conditions such as seborrheic dermatitis, which makes one more prone to developing dandruff. Therefore, people with hormonal issues and oily scalp are more prone to suffer from dandruff.

How to Control Dandruff?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for dandruff. All one can do is to prevent it. Preventive measures for dandruff include a range of home remedies. For severe and hard-to-manage dandruff cases, medical intervention becomes important. 

Home Remedies for Dandruff

Ingredients that help balance the pH levels in the scalp can help deal with stubborn dandruff. The key is to keep switching between different ingredients. The most preferred ones are:

  • The antifungal properties of neem help fight dandruff. 
  • The use of Aloe Vera provides relief from the itching sensation.
  • The high amounts of Vitamin E in Argan Oil help nourish the scalp from within.

Medical Intervention for Dandruff

There is a range of prescription drugs that can help ease the symptoms and causes of dandruff. The most common drugs are:

  • Pyrithione zinc shampoos contain antibacterial and antifungal properties. 
  • Tar-based shampoos help slow down skin cell maturity.
  • Salicylic acid helps eliminate scaling.
  • Selenium sulfide shampoos have antifungal properties.
  • Ketoconazole shampoos kill dandruff-causing fungi that thrive on scalp skin. 
  • Fluocinolone shampoos help control itching, flaking, and irritation.

Hair Care Tips for Dandruff Prone Hair

Can dandruff spread? How to get rid of dandruff? These are persistent questions related to dandruff treatment. However, effective dandruff treatment starts with proper hair care. 

  • Regular hair wash 2-3 times a week.
  • Use lukewarm water for hair wash.
  • Use the right hair care products. 
  • Frequent brushing and combing improves blood circulation in the scalp.
  • Limit intake of carbs, sugar, and dairy products.   


Now that you have a clear answer to the question ‘Is dandruff contagious’, it’s time to develop coping strategies to control the embarrassing spread. While mild cases of dandruff can be safely addressed with home remedies for dandruff, medical intervention will be required for severe cases to rule out the possibility of eczema, psoriasis, and fungal infection – skin conditions with the same symptoms but requiring different treatment. 

HK Vitals


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