Let's talk aboutDandruff & Genetics

Wondering why you sometimes see white flakes flying off your hair? Get to the root of what can cause dandruff.

How it works

Dandruff is a common skin condition characterized by flaking of the skin on the scalp.

The genetic link

Scientists at 23andMe identified 487 genetic markers that are associated with dandruff. In addition to genetics, other factors like age, sex, and ancestry can also influence your chances of getting dandruff. For example, among 23andMe consented research participants, males are more likely than females to report that they have had dandruff.

person with dandruff

Did you know?

One possible cause of dandruff may be a negative reaction to microbes living on the skin. Just like inside your gut, microbes also live on your scalp. For some people, these microbes may trigger immune reactions that cause the skin cells to rapidly divide and flake off, forming dandruff. Scientists aren’t sure why some people are sensitive to these microbes and others aren’t, but genetics may play a role.

Explore more

Curious what your genes say about dandruff? 23andMe can tell you whether you’re more likely to get dandruff based on your genetics and other factors. Try one of our services to learn more.

Health + Ancestry Service Kit

Health + Ancestry Service

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Borda LJ et al. (2015). “Seborrheic Dermatitis and Dandruff: A Comprehensive Review.” J Clin Investig Dermatol. 3(2).

Cogen AL et al. (2008). “Skin microbiota: a source of disease or defence?” Br J Dermatol. 158(3):442-55.

Furlotte NA et al. (2015). “23andMe White Paper 23-12: Estimating complex phenotype prevalence using predictive models.” 23andMe White Paper 23-12.

Turner GA et al. (2012). “Stratum corneum dysfunction in dandruff.” Int J Cosmet Sci. 34(4):298-306.