Here’s Why You Have Dandruff In Your Beard
Oh, the joys of growing a beard. You get past that awkward “stubble plus” phase and suddenly you’re luxuriating in a blanket of manhood. You bask in compliments. You think, “Yes, this is my life now.” Then you wear a black T-shirt one day, scratch your beard, and the horror begins: beard dandruff.
Beard dandruff isn’t like other dandruff. It’s more of a grain, less of a flake. At first, you might try to dismiss it. Maybe you just need to give that beard a good shaking out, but as you scratch, the sprinkles return.
“It’s usually a fine, white-ish dandruff,” says Hooman Khorasani, chief of dermatologic and cosmetic surgery at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine in NYC. “In older guys it can be more yellowish. It’s sort of like salty, flaky skin.”
You haven’t even heard the worst part. Read on for everything you need to know about beard dandruff—helpfully arranged from most terrifying to most useful.
It Might Be Linked to Bugs on Your Face
The causes of beard dandruff are still being debated, but here’s one theory. Microscopic arachnid face mites known as Demodex folliculorum are crawling around in your hair follicles—especially on your cheeks, eyebrows… you get it.
Numerous studies have found elevated populations of these facial crawlers in patients with different forms of skin irritation. In Khorasani’s words, “It’s basically a type of mite that lives on all our skin, and some of us are more allergic than others.”
Work is still being done to understand these eight-legged follicle freaks, and whether they cause beard dandruff or merely show up where it does. But now you know about them. And can’t un-know about them.
It’s More Common Than You’d Expect
The clinical condition behind beard dandruff is known as Seborrheic Dermatitis. Ignore the fancy name, because it’s incredibly common.
“I’d say up to 40% of guys have it,” says Khorasani. “It’s dandruff in the beard—and sometimes between the brow, around the nose area, or even on the chest.”
Shaving Makes It Go Away
Easiest way to get rid of it? Shave.
While the exact cause of Seborrheic Dermatitis still isn’t known, clinical observation has established that it can appear in men who grow facial hair who were previously unaffected. (Or maybe that bushy beard is just collecting it and making it more obvious.)
When you reacquaint yourself with your razor, you’ll likely see it vanish. But that’s bad news for beard lovers, so fortunately there’s a better way.
You Can Treat It with Dandruff Shampoo—If You Do It Right
Now for the good news: “It’s really easy to get rid of,” says Khorasani.
Your weapon: a regular dandruff shampoo like Head & Shoulders or Selsun Blue . But don’t rush. “The key is to let it sit for five minutes,” says Khorasani. “It takes a little while for the active ingredient to go down to the skin.”
Related: What To Do About Dandruff
So take a leisurely shower, try not to think about face mites, and rinse after five minutes. Repeat a couple times a week, along with any general beard maintenance. Make sure to moisturise afterward to keep skin happy and healthy.
And smile, beardy. You’ve just eliminated one more argument from haters who think you should shave.
Originally published on menshealth.com