Diabetes & Dandruff: How Your Diabetes Might Affect Your Scalp

Hair loss isn’t the only possible side effect of metabolic syndrome.


Diabetes has many complications associated with it, some of them severe and others seemingly unrelated. One possible side effect is the development of dandruff or cradle cap, both of which may come from an overgrowth of yeast.

What Causes Dandruff?

Dandruff has several potential causes, the two most common being an overgrowth of yeast and dryness. Yeast can cause buildup to develop on your scalp (similar to “cradle cap” seen in babies) while dryness caused by poor circulation and slow immune response can lead to flaky white skin and an itchy scalp.

Dandruff treatment usually comes in the form of a special shampoo or conditioner but is just as often ineffective because it fails to treat the root cause and tries to treat the symptoms, instead. Some men and women have success using prescription-strength shampoo while others address their issues with diet. If diabetes is the root cause of your dandruff, a multifaceted approach is required.

Diabetes and Dandruff

If your diabetes has encouraged an overgrowth of yeast or damaged your body’s ability to properly moisturize your skin, you may be able to use your diet and exercise habits to help improve your yeast overgrowth and circulatory issues. To keep yeast in check, you must keep your blood sugar in check. High amounts of sugar actually feed yeast, which can make dandruff worse and encourage yeast overgrowth (and subsequent infections) in other areas of the body, as well.

For a consistently stable blood sugar, you must eat well and keep active. In addition to blood sugar control, however, there are other methods you can enlist to aid in keeping your scalp’s health in tip-top shape. These include massage, regular cleansing, and proper moisturizing.

To massage your scalp, press the pads of your fingers against your scalp as you wash your hair, encouraging blood flow to increase. You can also do this dry before you sleep each night, massaging your head for 3-5 minutes. A nightly head massage may perform double duty and help you sleep, as well.

Regular cleansing is another way to keep yeast under control, after diet and exercise. Although you do not have to wash your hair every day, be sure to wash it each time you sweat profusely or use a lot of product. Product can build up, causing the overproduction of oils and subsequent dryness.

Finally, make sure you are conditioning your scalp properly. Conditioner is partly for your hair but is also useful for your scalp. Apply conditioner to the roots of your hair (rather than the ends) and massage it in. Let it sit for at least 2 minutes before rinsing away for the best results.

Diabetes complications are frustrating and may, at times, seem to come out of nowhere. While dandruff may be caused by complications of diabetes, the condition is typically easy to resolve and prevent.


Medical News. Accessed 6/22/17.
Mayo Clinic. Accessed 6/22/17.