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Trustinglife's avatar

Why do I have dry skin under my beard?

Asked by Trustinglife (6579 points ) October 20th, 2008 from iPhone

My mustache area is affected most. When my beard is longer, white flakes come off. Why does this happen? How can I make it stop? What does my body need? Thanks!

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11 Answers

jrpowell's avatar

same thing here.. any advice would be welcome.

Nimis's avatar

Apparently, beard dandruff is a common issue with guys. Washing your beard/moustache with an over the counter dandruff shampoo should help. There’s also some stuff called Denorex too.

Nimis's avatar

Though it may just also be because the skin is not exposed and doesn’t get a chance to sluff off unnoticed. Have you tried giving it a gentle scratch in the shower to get it out then? (Instead of when you’re supposed to meet a client in your black work shirt.)

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

You are not shaving it, therefore, you are not exfoliating the skin.

jvgr's avatar

You probably have Seborrehic Dermatits, and not dry skin.

Densely haired areas are also rich in sebum glands. Seb Derm occurs when there is excess sebum on the skin. Excess sebum provides a good environment for a species of fungi (Malassezia furfur}. These fungi excrete enzymes which break down the sebum in order to isolate the oleic acid which is their food. Free fatty acids are irritating to the skin.

The mechanism of action is unclear, but either the enzymes of the fungi and/or the free fatty acids disrupt the normal turnover rate of the epidermis. Normally a newly formed skin cell at the base of the epidermis takes about 21 days to migrate to the top most layer and slough off in hardly visible/invisible pieces. In this case though, the process is speeded up and the sloughing of cells occurs in larger groups, which are noticed as dandruff.

There is no existing cure for this problem, just ways to manage it. Keeping the skin clear of sebum is difficult under the hair of a beard or mustache. So killing the fungi is the easiest option.

@Nimis has a good suggestion re: dandruff shampoo, but the normal additive, zinc pyrithione, can be very irritating, especially in the mustache zone. You might try “Nizoral”. Very gentle and a bit pricey. In either case, you do need to leave these shampoos on for 5 or so minutes.

For economy, it’s best to prewash these areas with your normal shampoo and then use the medicated shampoo. Using a brush in the prewash to help dislodge particles of skin that are close to becoming free from the skin. Both shampoos work in that they kill the fungi, though Nizoral is more effective and has a longer effect.

You’ll find that, with experimentation, you won’t need to use these “medicated” shampoos every day.

You should wash beard/mustache area with a detergent based cleanser (soap, or liquid cleansers for oily skin 2x/day.

eatmunky's avatar

i had this problem a while ago. Then I started using head and shoulders to shampoo my beard. And if you use conditioner on it after, it works even better. (No more flakes, plus my girlfriend loved the softer beard)

Trustinglife's avatar

Thank you for your answers, gentlemen. Jvgr, you clearly have a ton of knowledge on this topic.

jvgr's avatar

Trustinglife” My knowledge comes from having to suffer with this problem myself, and am glad to help anyone. It’s a miserable affliction.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

I had a very nice beard before shaving it off for my new place of employment. Since I shaved my head but not my face at the time, I would use shampoo and conditioner on my beard, and it made it softer, and it didn’t itch anymore. No flakies either.

dammit, I really miss my beard.

Trustinglife's avatar

@jvgr, if you’re still following this question… at the end of your answer, you suggested washing the beard/mustache area with a detergent based cleanser. Can you give some examples?

andy2104red's avatar

Hey my bearded friends. I had this problem and found a course exfoliater in the shower followed by a good scrubbing towel dry sorted the problem right out. You need to lift up the hair and get at your skin underneath. You naturally shed skin and it gets trapped by your manly face carpet, let the skin be free!

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