Dandruff — it’s not just for your head! Sure, dandruff is mainly something that affects your scalp, but that isn’t the only place where your skin can start flaking off, which may result in itchiness, redness and a potential blizzard of white flakes. It can happen to your beard as well, but just like your scalp, you don’t need to suffer in silence.
Also known as seborrheic dermatitis, dandruff affects about 20 percent of the population, with men far more likely to be afflicted than women. It occurs when your skin cells grow and die off faster than usual and shed off in visible hunks. There are several potential causes, including genetics, dry weather and a fungus called Malassezia globosa, which grows around the oily parts of your body, especially the sebaceous glands that produce the lubricant which coats your hair. It’s not caused by poor hygiene, so you shouldn’t feel embarrassed by it, although that’s easier said than done when wearing a dark shirt covered in white flakes.
Unfortunately, there’s no permanent cure for dandruff, but it is eminently treatable. In fact, the treatment for beard dandruff is something you should be doing anyway as part of your regular grooming routine: exfoliating, washing and moisturizing. When you exfoliate, you’re scraping off all the dead skin cells that accumulate on your face before they can start flaking off. To do it, wash your face with warm water to open up your pores, then use a face cleanser, an exfoliating prep scrub, and/or a beard brush or comb. Not only does this help clean your skin and make it look fresher, exfoliating also helps prevent potential acne and ingrown hairs. (Just don’t overdo it, or you could end up drying out your skin even further.)
You likely won’t need a shampoo designed specifically to combat dandruff, unless you have a very bad case, so just use what you have. Follow up with a good moisturizer — it’ll lock water into the skin, helping to keep it from drying out.
If you tend to only have beard dandruff in the winter, good news — chances are it’s not a genetic condition, you just have dry skin. Cold weather exacerbates dry skin because there’s less humidity in the air, and when you blast on the heat inside, that dries the air in your home even further. Of course, there’s not much you can do about either of those things unless you want to freeze, so the exfoliation, shampooing and moisturizing technique is still your best bet to keep those white flakes in the sky, where they belong.