You Can Actually Get Dandruff on Your Face—Here's How to Tell, According to Derms
Surprise: It's not only a scalp condition.
Those pesky white flakes that crop up on your scalp, itch, and make you embarrassed to wear dark-colored tops are called dandruff, duh. And if you suffer from it, you know that there are shampoos, prescriptions, and other treatments out there designed to help the condition subside. But what you probably don't know is that dandruff doesn't only affect the scalp. In fact, it can present itself on your face as well.
We got the scoop from two leading dermatologists about how to tell if your flaking facial skin is actually dandruff. "Dandruff flakes tend to be thicker and greasier," says Terrence Keaney, MD, Dove Men+Care expert dermatologist, located in Arlington, Virginia. "It commonly affects eyebrows, men’s beards, and the T-zone area, especially the skin between the eyebrows and the corners of the nose," adds Francesca Fusco, MD, a dermatologist at Wexler Dermatology in New York City.
Dandruff on your face pops up for the same reasons as it does on your scalp. "It's an overgrowth of yeast and a buildup of dead skin," says Dr. Fusco. While there's no cure for dandruff, you can get it under control and prevent flare-ups.
Here's how: "I recommend mixing a dime-sized amount of dandruff shampoo in your palm with water and lathering the eyebrows, corners of the nose, and any area where you have dandruff," says Dr. Fusco. "Be sure to rinse and pat dry." Face dandruff can be triggered by flakes that fall from the scalp, she adds, "so even if you don't think you have scalp dandruff, you should use a dandruff shampoo on your scalp during face dandruff outbreaks." Her pick? Dove DermaCare Soothing Moisture Shampoo ($5; target.com). She also recommends using a cleansing cloth with texture to "gently remove superficial dead skin."
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Try not to worry about it too much, as stress might make dandruff worse. And stay away from harsh cleansers, Dr. Keaney says. "Don't over-cleanse your face. A common misconception with treating dandruff is that the more washes the more effective it will be."
Though there isn't a cure, both dermatologists promise that with a consistent regimen, you can definitely keep dandruff–on your face or your scalp–under control. And if you're unsure about whether what you're seeing is dandruff or not, take a trip to your own dermatologist for a proper diagnosis.