Dandruff is a condition that is irritating, uncomfortable and embarrassing. A lot of men suffer from dandruff, which is the flaking and itching of the scalp. We all get a few flakes now and again but when it starts falling from your scalp, onto your shoulders and covering your clothing, it can affect your confidence and give the wrong impression.
Causes of Dandruff
Dandruff is a scalp condition involving the shedding of dean skin cells. It is caused when the natural cycle of skin renewal is speeded up leading to patches of dead skin forming on the surface of the scalp. The dead skin comes away into the hair, resulting in the flakes associated with dandruff.
There are a few reasons as to why the skin renewal cycle begins to speed up.
Seborrheic dermatitis is a condition that causes oily skin. People with this condition may also experience flaking of the skin on other parts of the body such as the eyebrows, the side of the nose and anywhere else where skin folds together.
Malassezia is a type of fungus that lives on the scalp of most healthy adults. Although it does not cause a problem for most people, malassezia can sometimes grow out of control and begin feeding on the oil on your scalp. This accelerates the production of new skin and a large number of dead skin cells.
The two conditions are thought to be related. The presence of the fungus on the skin may trigger an abnormal response from the immune system which can then cause skin to become oily. As a result, oiliness of the skin may encourage further growth of the fungus which then causes the symptoms of dandruff.
Other possible causes of dandruff include:
- Not washing your hair or washing your hair too much. Washing your hair twice a day may irritate some peoples scalp.
- Emotional stress.
- Using hair styling products.
- Other skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
Symptoms of Dandruff
The main symptom of dandruff is white or grey dry flakes on the skin of your scalp and in your hair. Your scalp may also feel itchy and dry. Before beginning treatment, consult your dermatologist to make sure you’re treating the right condition.
How to Treat Dandruff
If your dandruff is mild then you may be able to relieve the symptoms using the following techniques:
- Washing your hair with a mild shampoo until the dandruff clears.
- Not scratching your scalp when shampooing.
- Avoid using hair products until the dandruff clears.
If your dandruff is uncontrollable and severe, there are several over-the-counter shampoos available for treating dandruff. Some of the most widely used anti-dandruff shampoos include:
Zinc pyrithione shampoos, such as Classic Clean for Normal Hair Pyrithione Zinc Head & Shoulders Shampoo, contain an antibacterial and antifungal agent which works by killing the fungus that’s thought to be partially responsible for dandruff.
Selenium sulfide shampoos, such as Selsun Blue, slow the production of skin cells while also killing the fungi.
Ketoconazole shampoo, like Nizoral, contains a powerful antifungal agent.
Tar-based shampoos such as Neutrogena T/Gel contain coal tar, which helps slow down the production of dead skin cells.
It’s important to note that not every shampoo is suitable for everyone. For example, selenium sulfide may not be recommended for people with blond or chemically treated hair as it can discolour the hair.
The use of these shampoos should be used daily until your dandruff is controlled. Once the dandruff is under control, use dandruff shampoo two or three times a week. If the dandruff shampoo loses its efficiency, switch to another type of shampoo or alternate between the types.
In addition to dandruff shampoo treatment, other steps can be taken to control dandruff including: exfoliating and cleansing your scalp with a facial scrub, reducing the amount of hair styling products used, living a healthy lifestyle, and managing stress. Consistently follow a dandruff control routine and your hair will look healthy and be flake free.