Does Milk Cause Dandruff?

Myth or fact: does milk cause dandruff? We all heard people recommending certain foods that can reduce dandruff. There is also a lot of advice on foods to avoid.

We understand that dandruff is actually caused by a yeast-like fungus called Malassezia that is found on our scalp.

People have told me to reduce my milk intake if I want to get rid of dandruff. Does that actually help?

I think that we can find the answer to that by answering the following 2 questions first.

  1. Is there any yeast in milk?
  2. Does consuming yeast affect the yeast on your scalp?

Before I explain the answers to both questions, let’s first find out what dandruff actually is.

What is Dandruff?

Malassezia is a type of fungus that is found on our scalp. This particular fungus is a component of the human skin. It is commonly associated with conditions such as eczema, folliculitis, seborrheic dermatitis and also dandruff [1].

Malassezia feeds on oil that is on your scalp. These natural oils are called sebum, which is produced by the sebaceous glands in the skin. They keep your skin healthy. Don’t worry, this fungus exists on everyone’s head, regardless if they have dandruff of if they have a completely healthy scalp.

Malassezia reacts with the sebum by breaking it down. This process creates a by-product called oleic acid. The oleic acid penetrates the top layers of our scalp This can result in an inflammatory reaction. For some people this can lead to your scalp developing dandruff [2].

You are not alone!  Around 50% of adults suffer from dandruff! Trust me, there is a way to control it.

Does Food Affect Dandruff?

Let’s face it, the food we eat affects our bodies more than we think. Our body breaks down food into the following:


  • Carbohydrates
  • Fats
  • Proteins


  • Vitamins
  • Minerals

Depending on the food we eat, it can either benefit us or do the exact opposite. Generally speaking, foods that are rich in zinc, omega 3 oils and vitamins can have a positive impact on dandruff. Read more about how what vitamin deficiencies cause dandruff.

Does Milk Cause Dandruff?

Firstly, let’s find out if there is there any yeast in milk. If yes, does consuming yeast affect the yeast on our scalp?

Let’s explore the answers!

There is a reason why I have always been intrigued by this question. The reason is that I have always associated milk with yeast. We also learned that Malassezia is a yeast-like fungus. So logically I thought that by consuming more milk, it will affect my dandruff.

However, after doing some research I was completely wrong. Contrary to popular belief, there is no yeast in milk. Certain dairy products that go through a fermentation process such as yogurt or cheese contain yeast. Milk actually does not! So there goes myth #1. Even though your friends and family may have told you that milk contains yeast, it’s actually incorrect.

A glass of milk on a table

Let’s dive in a little deeper by addressing the main question. We know that dandruff is a yeast-like fungus. We also know that there are certain dairy products that contain yeast. However, you must understand that the yeast in dairy foods (Saccharomyces) and the fungus on our scalp (Malassezia) are not the same. In fact, they are completely different and do not affect each other.

So, there is your answer!

Does yeast of milk cause dandruff? No, milk doesn’t cause dandruff. Of course, foods affect your body in many ways, but not in this particular case. I encourage you to consume healthy foods that are rich in zinc, omega-3 oils and vitamins, as they are crucial to maintaining healthy skin [3].

Do Yeast-like Foods Affect Dandruff?

Let’s go one step further! Let’s talk about other types of foods such as dairy products that contain yeast.

Some examples of foods that contain yeast are beer, bread, bagels, grapes, plums, wine, pretzels and many more. It’s a common belief that consuming food that contains yeast can led to an increased amount of Malassezia fungi on our scalp. However, is this assumption factually correct?

The answer is a clear no! Just because Malassezia (the yeast-like fungus that grows on our scalp) and Saccharomyces (the yeast found if foods) are both are ‘yeast-like’, does not mean that they are related or that they affect each other. In fact, they are completely different and consuming foods with yeast have no effect on your dandruff [4].

Rest assured that yeast found in food (and definitely not milk) will not worsen your dandruff situation.

2 thoughts on “Does Milk Cause Dandruff?”

  1. From personal experience: I drastically cut down on my milk intake and my dandruff improved significantly. If you’re struggling with dandruff, I encourage you to quit milk for a few weeks anyway. It might help.

  2. Every time I have dairy, my scalp itches, flakes, and feels like it’s burning. My scalp also becomes inflamed. Hard food to eliminate, but it’s torture not to.


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