Beards are all the rage these days and are being sported by both young and old alike. But what lies beneath the bountiful facial hair for many might give you the willies! Beard dandruff is a very real condition that plagues especially African American men because Black skin does not retain as much water as white skin. This lack of moisture results in dry skin that can lead to flecks and flakes on a beard.
What is beard dandruff?
You’re all too familiar with seborrheic dermatitis or scalp dandruff that results in flaking and itching. Well, beard dandruff is a condition that causes the skin under a beard to flake and itch. Men who suffer from beard dandruff can see white flakes in their facial hair.
What causes it?
Beard dandruff is caused by two things–dry skin and yeast. Using harsh facial cleansers will clean but also rob the skin of oil. Cold winter air and even stress tend to dry the skin as well, and all this can lead to beard dandruff.
Another cause of the flaky facial condition is an opportunistic yeast called pityrosporum ovale that naturally lives on the skin of humans. This yeast gets into the hair follicles and multiplies, causing acne-like eruptions and itching. The beard area is another prime location for dandruff because the facial hair shields the yeast from the sun’s ultraviolet light, which would typically slow its growth.
What to do about it?
The game plan is to do away with the dandruff problem without having to shave off the beard, which can resolve the issue. But in many instances, shaving to zap the flakes might not be the course of action that a bearded man would want to take. So, if shaving is not an option, consider OTC anti-dandruff shampoos that can effectively combat beard dandruff.
If the beard dandruff condition is light, then an OTC treatment to try is Head & Shoulders Clinical Strength Dandruff Defense, formulated with selenium sulfide to fight dryness, irritation, itchiness, scaling, and redness.
If the flaking is intense, Nizoral Anti-Dandruff Shampoo can help with its prescription strength ingredient, ketoconazole. For best results, leave the dandruff shampoo on your beard for at least five minutes to allow it to penetrate and then rinse but avoid using hot water, which can be drying and irritating.
Dandruff shampoos tend to really dry out the skin under your beard, so use them only a few times a month. If you find that the shampoos are too harsh, try an anti-itch beard wash like One DTQ Medicine Man’s Anti-Itch Beard Wash, a 100% natural and organic cleanser that offers chemical-free dandruff relief, along with conditioning and moisturizing.
Make sure to follow up shampooing with a moisturizer or oil that will add hydration to your face, like Kiehl’s Nourishing Beard Grooming Oil which contains a blend of pracaxi oil, sandalwood, cedarwood, and eucalyptus oils that dig deep to condition and add moisture below the beard level.
Fresh Beards Tea Tree Oil No 5 is a fusion of lemon drop and tea tree oils. This beard oil softens, reduces itch, and reduces/eliminates dandruff without that greasy feeling. If you prefer to go the more natural route when it comes to combating beard dandruff, studies show that oils like tea tree fight off the yeast that causes flaking. Other oils that are considered safe to use on the skin include coconut oil, jojoba oil, safflower oil, evening primrose, perilla, and hemp oil; steer clear, however, of olive, avocado, peanut, or almond oil which can damage the skin and perhaps cause an allergic reaction. Oils should always be applied to completely dry skin under the beard.
Can you prevent it from returning?
If shampooing and moisturizing get rid of your beard dandruff, then do make sure to keep up with your routine. However, if trying the recommended first line of treatment does not help to end flaking, then a visit to a dermatologist is the next course of action. You may need a prescription-strength anti-fungal shampoo or topical steroid treatment to eliminate the problem.