I came across this interesting article in the St Louis Dispatch;

Yolinda Washington’s lifelong dandruff problem has been embarrassing, she said. “You want people to look at you, not your scalp.”

She used to have her hair washed weekly at a salon. Between visits, she oiled her scalp daily. But nothing could rid her of the scaly white flakes that sat sometimes visibly on her scalp or shoulders.

She saw a brochure a few weeks ago on a study that aims to help black women who wrestle with dandruff. She joined a study under way at St. Louis University.

“Dandruff is a nuisance and affects people’s lifestyles,” said Dr. Jeaneen Chappell, a researcher and resident in dermatology at St. Louis University School of Medicine. “Social and economic ramifications can be great for individuals. It’s not going to kill you, but it affects how you deal with other people, the clothes you wear, your confidence.”

Chappell believes she has found a way to fight black women’s dandruff, despite the unique issues they face.

“African-American hair is drier and doesn’t produce as much oil as other races,” Chappell said, “and it tends to be brittle and break if you wash it too often.”

Many black women get their hair chemically relaxed and professionally styled. So they may only have their hair washed during a salon visit, Chappell said, which can be every two weeks.

She suspects a foam remedy already available may be better suited for black women’s hair than dandruff shampoos. If she presents proof, more doctors may prescribe the foam rather than shampoos.

Dandruff is among the top reasons why black women visit dermatologists, Chappell said.
“I was noticing women coming to the office who were getting (dandruff) shampoo, weren’t adhering to prescribing practices,” she said. “The No. 1 reason was they didn’t want to wash their hair as often as I was prescribing.”

“Anything that makes the hair wet and ruins the style is something that black women won’t cooperate with. People don’t appreciate the amount of time it takes to care for the hair.”

She added. “Straightening takes two to three hours, in addition to styling. No one wants to do that two or three times a week.”

The issue isn’t about clean hair, she said. “African-American women don’t have dandruff because they don’t wash their hair,” Chappell said. “It’s because they don’t want to use the most common treatments.”
Dandruff is caused primarily by a fungus called malassezia, Chappell said. All adults have it, but some people are more sensitive to it; also, it’s often intensified by hormonal, genetic or neurological conditions.

Chappell said the foam treatment uses the same dandruff-fighting ingredient — ketoconazole, an anti-fungal medicine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration — as the shampoo. The foam does not require patients to wash their hair, the doctor said.

Thus, the study. “I’m trying to meet these women where they are, with something that won’t disrupt their lifestyles,” Chappell said.

The study divides 100 women into two groups, one using shampoo and the other foam.

Washington got the shampoo. But in agreeing to use it, she must wash her hair three times a week.
Her dandruff has improved, she said, but she has had to change her styling habits.

“So I take care of it myself, flat-iron it when I have to,” Washington said.

She’s considering a new hairstyle, possibly returning to a natural style that doesn’t require chemicals.

“I have to give some thought to that,” she said. “That’s a big change.”

Interesting! What are your thoughts ladies?

Black Girl With Long Hair

Leila Noelliste, founder of Black Girl with Long Hair (April 2008). Social media, pop culture and black beauty enthusiast. bell hooks' hair twin...

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52 Comments on "Dandruff In Black Women Exacerbated By Relaxing"

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Quiet Face

I have had perms in my hair since I was a kid I am not a young adult and I have never had dandruff because I washed my hair once a week and if I needed to cowash. As for my mom she got dandruff went natural and still had it. She had to wash her hair EVERY OTHER DAY and still nothing changed. Once she relaxed her hair for some strange reason the dandruff left.

Maybe it isn’t just relaxing your hair but the stuff you use on your hair.


I was natural and have had perms in the past. My hair is currently relaxed and the dandruff problems still haven’t gone away or become less.