Don't judge your flaky scalp by its itchy cover. Because even if it looks like the work of your new shampoo, it might be something else entirely. Find out what's really causing your dandruff below:

1. Genetics

Similar to acne, dandruff can be hereditary. "It may be due to a genetic inflammatory disease called seborrheic dermatitis, which makes the condition chronic and frustrating to treat," says Dr. Windie Hayano of Skin Inc. Dermatology and Laser Center.

But no worries, the derm clarifies that this is definitely not contagious. It will only cause trouble if the scalp becomes infected with yeast, which will cause inflammation and itchiness. If you notice flaking around your eyebrows, the sides of your nose, cheeks, and your ears, do consult a dermatologist for solutions.

2. Stress

According to the derm, copious amounts of stress triggers dandruff as well, especially if you're someone with the flaky scalp gene. Think of it as a non-pimple-related reaction to those sleepless nights.

3. Hormones

Surprise! A sudden change in your hormonal levels can declare a snow day on your hair, too. This is because our hormones control the oil production in our scalp, so a change can lead to the sebum transforming into an irritant. Remedy this by controlling your stress levels and eating hormone-balancing food like almonds and avocados.

4. Psoriasis

"If the dandruff is accompanied by thick, red plaques together with the flaking and goes beyond the border of the scalp, that may be psoriasis," Dr. Windie explains. Psoriasis occurs when skin cells multiply quickly, building up on the surface of the skin. For treating this, it will be best to seek medical attention immediately.

5. A dry scalp

"The scalp, just like any part of your skin, may flake," the derm explains. A dry, dehydrated scalp is definitely a breeding ground for dandruff. To avoid this, try not to use harsh shampoos and use a hair mask (or just coconut oil!) at least once a week.

6. Hair hygiene

"Hygiene, or lack of it, may also cause dandruff because of the accumulated dead skin and residue," says the dermatologist. While we definitely don't recommend overwashing your hair, washing it enough is never a bad idea. Go for a deep clean every two days if your scalp flakes easily, and use hydrating, sulfate-free shampoos for good measure!

This story originally appeared on

* Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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