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Hats have had something of a comeback over the last decade, with both winter and summer styles to choose from. But might they be causing dandruff?

From baseball caps to fedoras, and from cowboy hats to flat caps to beanies, the last decade or so has seen a definite upswing in the popularity of long-ignored head gear styles.

As much as a stylish hat might complete your outfit – or just keep your ears warm – it can also have unforeseen consequences. This can include making dandruff seem far worse.

To understand why this happens, we first need to understand what causes dandruff.


The cause of dandruff

Malassezia is a microbe that lives on all of our scalps. It survives by consuming the natural oils produced by our scalps. And for most of us, that’s the end of the story.

Unfortunately, many people are sensitive to one of the main by-products of Malassezia globosa: oleic acid. In these folk, Malassezia globosa will lead to symptoms that include:

  • Itchiness

  • White flakes in the hair

  • Red and irritated scalp

This is what we call dandruff. Happily, it’s fairly easy to control – a good dandruff shampoo will help control Malassezia globosa, while soothing the symptoms of dandruff.

Unfortunately, while a hat looks good, it can make things difficult for dandruff sufferers.


Hats and dandruff

Your scalp is more than simply skin and hair. Rather, it’s a complex environment that is susceptible to external factors, like hats.

Wearing a hat for lengthy periods creates a warm and humid microclimate on the scalp. As the head heats up, moisture is trapped – and the humidity is the ideal environment for microbes like Malassezia globosa.

This can lead to flare-ups in dandruff, or it can worsen existing dandruff (not ideal if you’re wearing a hat to hide your dandruff). But it’s worth remembering that wearing a hat can’t cause dandruff – if you’re not sensitive to oleic acid, you’ll be fine.

If you do periodically suffer from dandruff symptoms, and you like wearing hats, it might be worth using a dandruff shampoo with a little more frequency than usual. This will help keep your dandruff under control.

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