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Hidden Causes Of Dandruff: Central Heating

Central heating is a boon during cold winter months. But could it be a hidden cause of dandruff?

A woman dressed in scientist's apron smiling and looking at the camera.

THIS ARTICLE HAS BEEN REVIEWED BY DR. ROLANDA WILKERSON

Senior beauty scientist

Central heating is quickly becoming ubiquitous in the developed world, especially in the colder climes.

It’s easy to see why: who wouldn’t want the convenience of a toasty home when you come in from the cold? The question is, does using central heating having hidden consequences for your hair?

Because central heating effectively works by pumping dry, warm air through your home, it will have an effect on your hair.

But that doesn’t mean it causes dandruff.

What causes dandruff 

A fungus called Malassezia globosa lives on all our heads. This microbe is typically harmless, feeding on the scalp’s natural oils and leaving behind oleic acid as a by-product. 

Unfortunately, a portion of the population is sensitive to oleic acid. If you are, you can expect symptoms that include: 

  • an itchy scalp 

  • dry, white flakes of skin 

  • a red, irritated scalp 

Malassezia globosa is pretty much unaffected by central heating, so you don’t need to worry on that front. But there are other problems to consider.

Central heating and your hair 

Because central heating is a dry heat, it can cause problems, even if it won’t actually cause dandruff. 

Spending a lot of time in a centrally heated environment – as you tend to do on cold winter days – dries out your scalp

This can exacerbate the flaking and dry skin common to dandruff, even causing a dandruff flare up if you’re susceptible to dandruff. 

Luckily, it’s easy to combat this: you just need to give your scalp more moisture. 

Moisturizing your scalp is easy if you use a moisturising dandruff shampoo. These shampoos are specially formulated to fight the cause and symptoms of dandruff, including dry scalp. 

Which means you’ll be saving your head from dandruff and keeping it moisturized at the same time – two birds with one stone. 

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