Many people believe dandruff is the result of fungus – that’s not the case.
An imbalance between two competing bacteria are the root of the hair problem, says a new study.
Think of Propionibacterium and Staphylococcus as the yin and yang of healthy hair: when they have an equal amount of push and pull, dandruff is held in limbo. When one is more dominant than the other, however, that’s when the snow starts falling.
Expert opinion on what the actual cause of dandruff is has differed greatly, as well as its cures; consensus has slowly been formed as of late.
“Micro-organisms on the scalp — especially fungi — have been predominately thought to be the main cause of the development of dandruff,” wrote the researchers in their study, published in the Nature Group’s Scientific Reports.
The team of scientists, lead by Zhang Menghui of Shanghai Jiao Tong University, didn’t buy into the theory, and took matters into their own hands.
In 59 Chinese volunteers aged from 18 to 60 years old, they measured levels of water, several dozen bacteria, sebum, and Malassezia, the alleged fungus that produces dandruff. Subjects washed their hair two days in advance, and then had samples taken from eight parts of the scalp.
“Overall, fungi did not exhibit an important role in the severity of dandruff,” the researchers concluded.
“The relationship between the bacteria and the dandruff was significantly stronger.”
They did find extra white flakes on participants when the two bacteria, propionibacterium and staphylococcus, were imbalanced.
“This study suggests that adjusting the balance of the bacteria on the scalp… might be a potential solution to lessen dandruff.”