Why Do I Have Dandruff All Of A Sudden?

Let me guess, are you asking yourself “why do I have dandruff all of a sudden?” Are you looking for answers to why this happened?

Perhaps you understand why this is happening, but you just aren’t sure how to get rid of it. If one of the above statements are correct then you have gone through exactly what I have, around 15 years ago.

Rest assured, there are reasons as to why this happens.

Random Dandruff Outbreak

I still remember exactly how I had my first random dandruff outbreak. I was sitting in one of my high school classes. All of a sudden my scalp felt extremely itchy, and I was not sure why.

It was so itchy that I was frantically scratching my head while trying to concentrate in class. It was extremely embarrassing, as I looked like a maniac and the worst part was that I didn’t know that I had dandruff flakes all over my hair.

I only noticed when my classmates pointed it out to me. It was probably one of the most embarrassing moments of my life. It was then when I realized that I had dandruff all of a sudden. Are you curious how something like this can happen? Let me clue you in…

Too Much Stress

Everyone experiences stress once in a while. Some people more, others less.

Does stress affect dandruff? Stress in itself does not cause dandruff directly. However, stress can affect your dandruff condition indirectly. Experiencing higher stress levels, especially over a prolonged period of time, has negative effects on your immune system.

Your body will have a tougher time dealing with Malassezia and the inflammation on your scalp. From my own experience, when I am under stress for a longer period of time, I tend to be more neglectful of my personal hygiene. Sometimes I do experience phases with increased dandruff during stress.

I recommend practicing a good work-life balance, meditation, hobbies, surrounding yourself with loved ones and whatever you feel helps to reduce stress in the long term. It’s all mind versus matter and you can never let your mind lose. I’ve been there before and I will tell you that you can overcome it.

A woman who is under too much stress

Hormonal Changes

According to a study, testosterone can stimulate certain skin conditions, while estrogen inhibits them. Our body maintains natural hormone levels, depending on the gender [1]. Hormone levels can affect the natural oil (sebum) production on your scalp.

The Malassezia fungus on your scalp breaks down the sebum and creates oleic acid. This can cause an inflammatory reaction on the scalp, for some people. The best ways to ensure normal hormone levels are to exercise regularly, maintain a healthy and nutritious diet and to manage stress effectively.

I have been practicing these three things on a regular basis and they have done me well.

A woman going through hormonal changes

Excess Oil on Your Scalp

The Sebaceous Glands in your scalp produce sebum naturally.

However, under certain circumstances, you could be suffering from an unnaturally high amount of sebum production. This means that the Melasasia on your scalp feeds on a lot of sebum, which in turn could lead to the oleic acid causing an inflammatory reaction. On certain occasions, this reaction could lead to dry scalp skin and dandruff.

As stated previously, a raised testosterone level can also cause your Sebaceous Glands to produce too much sebum [2]. Also be sure to understand that there are some medications that cause the Sebaceous Glands to produce more sebum. Here is a list of medications that I found that affect sebum production:

  • Levonorgestrel (A hormonal medication that is commonly found in birth control pills)
  • Medroxyprogesterone (A medication used to control irregular or absent menstrual periods)
  • Phenothiazines (A medication used to treat shizophrenia)
A woman who is checking her hair for excess oil

Cold Weather

Dandruff usually gets worse in colder climates, especially in areas with low humidity, due to increased dryness.

Especially during winter, your hair and scalp may be deprived of moisture. This could make your scalp very dry. I have lived mostly in Europe and Asia. I personally noticed that counties in Asia are more humid, which was not so harsh on my scalp. In Europe, especially during the colder seasons, I experienced more dandruff than in the warmer seasons. During my time in Asia, I also felt I had to deal less with dandruff.

If you are from the US, Canada or Europe chances are during colder seasons you may feel that you have a drier scalp and increased dandruff. There are definitely some good hair oils and scalp moisturizers available that can do wonders.

Cold weather than can affect dandruff

Lack of Important Nutrients

Maintaining a well-balanced diet is always something that I recommend, especially if you have dandruff.

There are certain vitamins that are good for optimal scalp health. A vitamin deficiency can lead to bad scalp health. Minerals such as zinc and omega-3 fatty acids are important. You may have had a random dandruff outbreak because you could have neglected a healthy diet over a prolonged period of time.

A healthy and nutritious diet is never a bad thing anyway. Read my article on vitamins and dandruff to understand more.

A picture of nutritious food

Incorrect Washing of Hair

I was washing my hair incorrectly for the first few years, once I discovered that I had dandruff.

You first need to understand what type of dandruff you have in order to understand what you need to control it. I will link you to a guide below to further understand what is causing your dandruff. It will be much easier for you to plan your next steps.

The biggest mistake I made was using a dandruff shampoo which had ingredients that my scalp was not reacting well to. Instead of waking up the next morning with a clean scalp, I found my scalp extremely dry and flaky.

It felt as if my skin on the scalp was sticking together. It appeared like it had made my dandruff condition even worse. So make sure you are using a shampoo that contains the right ingredients to treat your dandruff condition. I have a created a comparison chart for the best anti-dandruff shampoos. You can easily see and compare what will work best for you.

Reviews of individual shampoos are also a good way to learn about which shampoo is best for your dandruff.

A woman in the shower washing her hair

Not Washing Your Hair Enough

Not washing your hair enough is unhygienic. I have been the culprit of this during my younger years. It was a chore for me to wash my hair regularly and I often skipped it. I definitely do not recommend this, as it encourages the fungus to continue to grow on your scalp. You are also giving bacteria and dirt a chance to grow.

If you already have a sensitive scalp this will definitely worsen your dandruff situation. Washing your hair with any type of anti-dandruff shampoos is also not ideal. I say this because some shampoos contain harsh chemicals. The trick is also to use the right kind of shampoo and wash your hair regularly.

I recommend you wash it every few days to avoid having dandruff all of a sudden. Always read the instructions at the back of the anti-dandruff shampoos bottle for guidance.

A woman who hasn't washed her hair for dandruff

Too Much Alcohol

I am not much of a drinker, but I do enjoy alcohol on some celebratory occasions. Generally speaking, alcohol in moderation is okay depending on your condition. The only problem with alcohol is that it is diuretic. This means that it gets rid of water from your body, which can lead to dehydration. Your body requires water to function healthily.

Water in your body transports nutrients to the cells. That includes your scalp as well. So, please be mindful of alcohol and dandruff. Each person reacts differently to substances, and it’s important to know your limits.

alcohol and glasses on a table


I hope I was able to share with you some information on the question “why do I have dandruff all of a sudden?”. It’s important to understand what actually can cause and prolong a random dandruff outbreak.

The biggest key to managing your dandruff is to understanding more about the topic of dandruff and knowing your body.

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