What is the white stuff in hair? You think it is dandruff but it may not!

Dandruff could be the problem at any time of the year. It makes you go mad as it is itchy, flaky and really irritating. However, after reading this article, you may hope that white stuff in hair is normal dandruff, not something else that is likely to harm your overall health.

There is an old saying that goes “you only get one time to make the first impression”. When it comes to white stuff in hair, on your shoulders and clothes, it never a good look but what you see may not be dandruff. It could be something more dangerous that really requires your attention.

No matter what it is, you should be aware of it and the potential impacts. Without a source of knowledge, you cannot know how to handle, leading to unwanted consequences.


It can be your embarrassing moment when someone notices white stuff in hair or on your shoulders but we have to say that if it is dandruff, you are still the lucky one. It can itch like crazy and remember that it is a common condition.

white stuff in hair
It is annoying but it can be handled at ease.
(Source: Gettyimages)

A key point is that this white stuff in hair is not related to poor hygiene at all. It may be caused by hormonal changes, stress, dry and insufficient cleansing of the scalp, certain illnesses or sensitivity to hair products.

Perhaps, we do not need to explain too much when it comes to dandrruff. The only thing you need right now is home remedies to help you come over the counter. Note that more severe cases should be checked by a doctor.

  • Managing stress to reduce white stuff in hair
white stuff in hair
Dandruff or sebum buildup is not that worth your worries because there are lots of treatments to follow (Source: Internet)
  • Shampoos and scalp preparations

We have to repeat that dandruff in form of white stuff in hair is not caused by poor hygiene but washing and brushing the hair can help to remove old skin flakes. Shampoos and scalp products at pharmacies can control seborrheic dermatitis but they cannot cure it completely.

however, be sure to look for these following ingredients to facilitate the removal. The best strategy is to choose a shampoo made of one of those ingredients and shampoo your hair frequently until dandruff is under your control.

+ Ketoconazole: any age could use this effective anti-fungal. To reduce white stuff in hair, remember to ask for it.

+ Selenium sulfide: it reduces dandruff by preventing glands in the scalp from producing natural oils.

+ Zinc pyrithione: it slows down the growth of yeast.

+ Coal tar: it can be perfect for dyed and treated hair after long-term usage. Users should wear hat when outside because your scalp will become more vulnerable to sunlight.

  • Salicylic acid peel
white stuff in hair
It is kind of do-it-yourself treatment to remove white stuff in hair and give your scalp a fresh start (Source: Internet)

What you need is salicylic acid (15% solution or less) and coconut oil. First, wash your strands and scalp, preferably with a homemade shampoo. Cover your scalp by coconut oil and leave it there in 30 minutes. Afterwards, apply the salicylic acid to your scalp by using a small pipette.

All patches of the scalp should be covered, especially where you would like to help them re-grow beautifully. 10 minutes is enough and then, wash them away with luke water. Repeat the process in no less than 2 days if you do not want to suffer from counter-effects.

You can get rid of annoying white stuff in hair if you are persistent in your hair treatment.

Seborrheic Dermatitis – a more severe case of dandruff

If the quantity of white stuff in hair is above the average, you may think about seborrheic dermatitis. It appears on parts where there are a lot of sebaceous glands such as the upper back and nose. The cause is unknown but we can be sure that it is not because of your hygiene.

white stuff in hair
It may evoke the disgusting feeling when you see this picture of ‘too much’ white stuff in hair (Source: Internet)

As you can see in the picture, seborrheic dermatitis stays in form of scalier and more inflamed skin disease than dandruff. Basically, treatments for both dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis are the same but as we mentioned before, the latter may develop due to the yeast that naturally resides on the skin and there is no permanent cure.

However, the quantity of white stuff in hair could be reduced if you make use of suggested remedies in the dandruff part. You should be pretty careful at choosing the right method.

White stuff in hair may be skin cancer

white stuff in hair
A sign of disease may be too marginal to be ignored (Source: Internet)

While dandruff happens all over the scalp in form of flakiness, white stuff in hair, especially in targeted area, may indicate something more. One of those causes could be skin cancer if a patient sees a new quarter-size area on his/her scalp be covered with flakes.

To figure out if it is skin cancer or not, you may be aware of the appearance of skin cancer on the scalp. Though it varies depending on the type of skin cancer, any of the following three main types should be noticed.

  • Based cell skin cancer (BCC)
white stuff in hair
It looks like a pink spot which can be either flat or raised (Source: Internet)

Similar to BCCs in other parts, they are likely to bleed, even with minor injuries. If you are contracted with larger cancers, visible irregular blood vessels may be found on its surface and it varies from being shiny to rough and crusty.

  • Squamous cell skin cancer (SCC)

Sometimes, too much white stuff in hair may be the sign of SCC – a kind of skin cancer starting off with a rough and scaly patch.

white stuff in hair
This spot can become tender when being pressed (Source: Internet)

People would be easily mistaken it for trauma or a scratch. However, as for skin cancer, the spot will not heal, bleed or it is painful. In other words, this cancer on the scalp is often sore.

  • Melanoma – the most dangerous type
white stuff in hair
If you happen to get quite a few white stuff in hair, let’s pray for not being in trouble with melanoma (Source: Internet)

Its appearance is quite varied but most appear as a brownish or black spot with darker irregular colors and borders. However, if you find it doubtful, please pay more attention to the changing appearance. Sometimes, you also see a firm pinkish red lump.

Reaction to your hair oil

How do you know if the white stuff in hair is a sign of an allergic contact in that you become more sensitized to a certain hair product? Accompanied with white stuff in hair, in shoulders and in your scalp, the reaction is itchy, red and scaly rash at skin sites that touched the allergen.

white stuff in hair
White stuff in hair is never comfortable to live with (Source: Internet)

You may find rash on other parts of the body such as on your neck and eyelid. One of the causes could be your usage of essential oils in ‘all-natural’ hair products or some ingredients in hair-regrowth treatments.

If you are unfortunate to be contracted with allergies, you ought to stop using the offending product to clear up in two or three days. This does not cease the allergic reaction immediately as more severe cases could take up to two weeks to go away.

In the trial period, you are advised to use a hypoallergenic product specially designed without the most notorious allergens. We highly suggest you use Vanicream line of products as the following picture reveals.

white stuff in hair
Free and clear shampoo for you to use during your elimination test (Source: Internet)

Hair product buildup

white stuff in hair
What is called buildup in your hair and scalp? How do you know that these white stuff in hair is buildup, not dandruff or something else? (Source: Internet)

If it is natural buildup, it is fine but if it is the combination of product buildup mixing with your scalp’s natural buildup, it is quite a greasy and grimy mess! Too much white stuff in hair causes your strands to look dull and lifeless.

  • Natural buildup

As you age, you are likely to begin to sweat more, especially in hot seasons. Additionally, we create sebum, natural oils from the turquoise glands (in the picture) and sweat glands in our scalp. All the processes help to form new skin cells and shed old dead skin ones.

Everybody is different and then, the quantity of white stuff in hair varies. You may have an overactive gland or two or shed skin cells more slowly than someone else.

  • Product buildup
white stuff in hair
White stuff in hair may arise from the gradual accumulation of products on the hair strands called product buildup (Source: Internet)

Shampoos and conditioners are designed to clean your hair and get rid of white stuff in hair. However, sometimes, if you are not careful at cleansing, this can leave residue on the scalp accumulating over the time.

See more: how to take care of long hair with the simplest ways

In the context of modern life, commercial liquid shampoos and conditioners often contain waxes, synthetic silicones and silica to help hold the styles. It makes the clients feel nice as they can enjoy the glorious hairstyle for a longer time but the residue is still there, without their awareness.

So, what can you do to remove white stuff in hair in form of buildup?

+ Simple baking soda clarifying rinse recipe

white stuff in hair
The requirements are 1 tablespoon baking soda and 1 – 2 cups warm water (Source: Internet)

How to apply this recipe: combine the two ingredients in a spray bottle or a cup. Once your hair is still wet, spray or pour the rinse onto your strands. Then rinse thoroughly with luke water and shampoo with regular shampoo.

+ Simple vinegar rinse recipe

white stuff in hair
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is useful to enhance your overall health, let alone hair (Source: Internet)

Even for dandruff, this recipe is good to remove that kind of white stuff in hair. All you have to do is to mix 1/2 to 4 tablespoons of ACV with 8 ounces of water in a plastic squeeze bottle or a spray bottle. Then repeat the process as you experiment with baking soda recipe.

Key points

So, white stuff in hair can exist in many forms and the line between dandruff and product buildup is pretty fragile. If you see flaking, you should deal with unexplained symptoms and check if it is healthy or not. Try utilizing regular treatments for dandruff for four to six weeks. If white stuff in hair does not seem to reduce, come to see your doctor or dermatologist.

Thank you for your reading and if you happen to be contracted with other symptoms in addition to what we have mentioned, do not hesitate to notify us of them.

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