The development of both dandruff and acne is linked to overactive oil glands in the skin. Other contributors to acne, including abnormal shedding of the skin and overgrowth of bacteria, are also thought to have a role in the development of dandruff. Some of the same over-the-counter medications used in the treatment of acne are also included in dandruff remedies, such as salicylic acid. The medication tends to promote the normal exfoliation of dead skin cells and facilitates the cleansing of clogged pores.
An excess amount of surface skin oil produced by the sebaceous glands is thought to be the main culprit behind both dandruff and acne. While oily skin alone is not an absolute predictor of either disorder, a reduction in the amount of oil produced by the skin's glands is known to help control both conditions. The excess oil on the skin and scalp tend to mix with the skin's dead cells as they are shed and the material then clogs hair follicles and pores. Once the skin and scalp's pores are plugged, bacteria can proliferate and produce the inflamed lesions associated with acne and the characteristic white flakes seen in dandruff.
One of the other common links between acne and dandruff is the abnormal shedding of dead skin cells. Some doctors and researchers think that this abnormal shedding stems from inflammation and high-gylcemic diets, while others contribute it solely to genetics. What is known is that the skin sheds its dead skin cells at a rate that is faster than normal and the skin's outer layer tends to develop a thicker than normal consistency. This thickness can make it more difficult for impurities and oil to completely pass through the pore.
Dandruff and acne also develop when excess amounts of bacteria develop on the skin and scalp. In most cases, this bacteria multiplies in abnormal amounts because the skin's impurities, oil and dead skin cells are trapped in the pores for an extended amount of time. Yeast overgrowth is often the culprit for dandruff, while in acne the bacteria that causes inflamed lesions is P. acnes. One of the ways to help combat dandruff and acne is to use chemicals that reduce the thickness of the skin's outer layer and promote normal skin shedding.
Over-the-counter acne and dandruff remedies typically include salicylic acid, which breaks down the material clogging the skin's pores. Continued use is usually needed in order to see improvement in both disorders. Prescription strength acne medications and dandruff shampoos and conditioners may be necessary in moderate to severe cases.