Many people notice worrisome scalp changes when they have telogen effluvium. Some notice itching. Others notice flaking when they are reasonably sure that they have never had dandruff before. Someone might say, “As if my horrible hair loss wasn’t bad enough, now when I look at my clothes to remove all the worn out hair, now I notice little flakes on my shoulder. It looks like I now have dandruff and my scalp itches. . I have never had a dandruff problem in my life. Is my dandruff related to hair loss? Will dandruff repair improve hair loss? “
I had some flaking with my own telogen effluvium, but was told it was dry scalp rather than traditional dandruff. Both conditions cause white scales and itchiness. In my case, my scalp got dry due to some of the over-the-counter topical treatments that I was trying to stop hair loss. Telogen effluvium is generally caused by some type of medical condition, stress, or change that occurs internally in the body. In turn, the body tries to conserve its strength by changing the hair cycles to the fall phase. Dandruff generally does not fall into the category of a telogen effluvium trigger, unless it is an allergic reaction or inflammatory response to something. Most of the time, the triggers are things like illness, medication, pregnancy, diet, etc.
Inflammation in the scalp and hair follicles that are so active can definitely cause itchiness. (And there are some people who have quite a strong inflammation on their scalp as a result of all the shedding that is affecting the hair follicles all at once.) Usually, however, this happens after shedding begins. It is not the cause of the detachment. I’m not a doctor, but my research has shown that there are some inflammatory scalp conditions that can cause hair loss, but they are relatively rare and generally feel much more painful than the typical itch.
In fact, I found that dandruff shampoo helped me shed a bit of skin. I think it was because of the anti-inflammatory properties. I compared dandruff shampoo to baby shampoo, regular shampoo, and shampoo that was supposedly specific for hair loss. For me, the anti-dandruff shampoo worked better, although it only helped a little. It did not solve the problem. Again, I think I was just addressing the inflammation that was caused by all my shedding. I don’t think I was treating my hair loss as once the TE cycle begins, you just need to keep your scalp healthy, address inflammation, and wait for your hair cycles to reset.
I should mention that there is another hair loss condition called androgenetic alopecia (AGA) that is caused by reactions to androgens. Dandruff is sometimes seen with this condition as well, especially when there is excess sebum. So that is also a consideration.