Beard Dandruff: Why and How to Treat
Beards are more popular than ever now and although they come with many benefits to our skin such as not having to shave, beards do come with their own problems. For many, it may be the first time growing a beard which can leave us a little bit lost on how to treat them. We often neglect this hair and more importantly, the skin underneath. Let’s take a look at Beard dandruff.
What Is Beard Dandruff?
Most of us know what dandruff is. We often recognise it by the small white specs of skin in the hair. It usually affects the scalp and is known as seborrheic dermatitis. Fortunately, it’s nothing serious and is usually just a dry skin problem. It can also appear in your beard in much the same way it does the scalp.
What Causes It?
In most cases it could just be dry skin that needs moisturizing. This is especially true of new ‘beard owners’ who are unfamiliar with how to treat their beard.
Alternatively, it is commonly related to the rate at which your cells regenerate. Usually it takes around 30 days for a cell cycle but if this process speeds up then dead skin cells can accumulate and cause the white flakes.
The other cause is fungus related. Almost everyones skin contains a microbe known as Malassezia Globosa. This fungus grows in oily areas where there are lots of sebaceous glands – usually the face and scalp.
This fungus plays its part by breaking down sebum, the oil that your sebaceous glands produce. When this fungus goes to work it leaves behind oleic acid which can irritate your skin. If you’re someone with oily skin then you’re likely to have more of these microbes too.
If you’re suffering from beard dandruff then not to worry. Its easily treatable and can be resolved quite quickly. The plan is quite simple, remove the dead skin cells and prevent new flakes from developing. A combination of washing, exfoliating, moisturizing and regularly using an oil or wax should see significant changes within a few weeks. Not only will this improve the skin but it will also have your beard looking great.
If you’re noticing general dryness then skip this step and get straight into moisturizing. Exfoliating can risk drying out the skin further but its important for removing dead skin cells if you’re already noticing flakes.
The safest way to exfoliate, whether you have dry skin or not is to use a beard brush. Choose one with soft bristles and gently massage your beard. Don’t scrub too hard as this will inflame the skin. The bonus with this is that a brush will move the oils from your skin to your beard hair which will soften your beard. This makes it easier to manage and gives it more volume. Nobody likes a scraggly beard!
2. Wash Your Beard
You don’t forget about the hair on your head, or your armpits and nether regions. Don’t neglect your chin either! We have a habit of forgetting about this hair, especially if you’re new to the beard world. We would recommend a dandruff fighting shampoo, fortunately there are many of these with natural, great smelling oils. Tea tree, coal tar, selenium sulfide are all good for treating that flaky dry skin.
Simply massage gently to treat your beard dandruff. Be sure to reach the skin underneath your beard and leave it in for a few minutes before you wash it out. Try to avoid traditional shampoos that you would use on your head. They’re usually too harsh for your beard.
The last and most important step for treating beard dandruff. This is arguably the most ‘fun’ step since you can experiment with some great smelling oils and waxes. We would recommend an argan oil based beard balm/oil since this is less likely to clog up your pores.
You should apply this directly after cleansing. Rub a few drops in your hands and massage into the skin under your beard then work through to the tips. You want to avoid too much build up so start with a small amount and build up.
It’s up to you whether you prefer a waxy balm or oil. Oils can sometimes be harsher on the skin and a balm/wax will usually last a lot longer. The preference is all yours, either is great, and will prevent more dry flaky skin. Using an oil is also the answer to a fuller more voluminous beard.
If you’re concerned about the dryness of your beard or you feel you have beard dandruff then not to worry. It’s rarely serious but it is important to understand the cause so that you can treat it more effectively. Fortunately, you can speak to an Online Dermatologist within hours through our service. If its skin related, we can check it!
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Specialist doctor from the University Hospital in Gothenburg, alumnus UC Berkeley. My doctoral dissertation is about Digital Health and I have published 5 scientific articles in teledermatology and artificial intelligence.