Those shiny white flakes that you often brush off your collar and shoulders are probably because of a skin condition called Dandruff. It looks harmless but dandruff causes itch and embarrassment. It is a very common condition that is responsible for the constant flaking of scalp skin.
Skin cells on the scalp constantly renew themselves just like any other part of the body. So, when new skin cells appear on the scalp, the old ones are pushed to the surface and come away from the scalp. This process is known as flaking, but in the case of people suffering from the condition of dandruff, the skin renewal process is accelerated, which means that more dead skin is shed hence the white flakes are more noticeable. Dandruff is not really related to your hair, or how you wash your hair, but it is all about your scalp skin and how you treat it to get rid of dandruff.
A very common cause of dandruff is a fungus called Malassezia globosa. This fungus lives on the scalp of most healthy adults without causing any problems. While in some individuals’ dandruff may overreact to that fungus and can become a condition.
What causes Dandruff?
Dandruff may have several causes and differ from person to person, while the most common causes are
- Irritated and oily skin
- Not maintaining clean hygiene and not shampooing enough, as it causes skin cells to accumulate and create flakes and itching
- A reaction of our immune system to a type of yeast that lives on the skin called a Malassezia globosa
- Hormonal issues may be involved because dandruff is most found after puberty in young adults
- Sensitivity to hair care products (contact dermatitis)
- Other skin conditions, such as psoriasis and eczema
What are the Symptoms of Dandruff?
- Dandruff is marked by an irritated and itchy scalp, which is followed by white skin flakes. These white, oily flakes accumulate in your hair and on your shoulders and get worse during the cold weather when the air is dry.
- The signs and symptoms may be more severe if you are stressed, and they tend to flare in cold, dry seasons.
- A red rash due to the itching can also be seen around the scalp, forehead, and ears or forehead that if you are suffering from dandruff.
- Constant hair loss is a commonly found symptom in cases of dandruff.
Preventive measures against Dandruff
As they say, prevention is better than cure, and in the case of dandruff, it is very apt. Because a good hair care routine can avoid the onset of dandruff.
The following steps can help dandruff prevention:
- Regular brushing of hair and washing them at least three times a week with a good quality shampoo that suits your skin type is necessary. After washing your hair, it is recommended to rinse it thoroughly to get all the shampoo out.
- Anti Dandruff Shampoos that contain tea tree oil or an active compound like Zinc Pyrithione helps in dandruff prevention as well as reducing it. It is because of the antifungal and antiseptic properties of Zinc Pyrithione which is also one of the major ingredients in Head and Shoulders shampoo.
- Gently massage your scalp and do not scratch your scalp when using shampoo. It can damage your scalp that can result in an infection.
- Chemical-based products should be avoided on your scalp. The chemicals can wash away the good bacteria that are present on your scalp. These bacteria help fight against dandruff causing yeasts.
- Hair products such as hair gels and hair sprays can adversely react to your skin type and these products are also responsible for building up oils that can irritate your scalp. Hence, it is advised to always check if the product is suitable for your skin type by avoiding the use for some time to see if your dandruff improves.
- Stress is a major cause of creating an imbalance in the normal functioning of the body and immune system, hence reducing stress can also reduce your risk of getting dandruff. Stress can make existing dandruff worse or it can also trigger the condition of dandruff.
How to Treat Dandruff?
The first line of defence against dandruff is using a good anti-dandruff shampoo that contains active anti-dandruff compounds that can fight against the overgrowth of yeast or dandruff-causing fungus.
A wide variety of these shampoos are available in the market with specific anti-infective and antifungal ingredients to treat conditions affecting the skin and scalp. Each ingredient is known to have a specific effect as mentioned below:
Zinc Pyrithione is an antifungal treatment that reduces the production of yeast and acts as a great dandruff cure. It is one of the fastest and most common ways to treat dandruff and this compound is easily available in Head & Shoulders shampoo available across every supermarket shelf.
Salicylic acid belongs to the family of keratolytic agents, this active agent softens the scalp and sheds the skin cells by making it dryer, but it is always advised to consult a doctor before taking this treatment.
Ketoconazole is used in case of severe and persistent cases of dandruff, it helps when other antidandruff shampoos cannot show any effect. It is one of the most effective antifungal ingredients that helps in shedding cells from the scalp. Shampoos with ketoconazole can be used by people of all ages. It actively works against the growth of the fungi and yeasts for the dandruff cure.
Coal tar is also one of the effective compounds for treating dandruff and seborrhoeic dermatitis. It is a thick, black liquid that is extracted from coal. While it is hight effective there are many factors to consider before you use this treatment:
- Its odour is like road tar, which is very unpleasant.
- Coal tar creates a black film on your head hence the chances of getting sunburnt are higher for a certain period.
- It cannot be used for long periods without consulting the skin doctor.
Effective Home Remedies to treat dandruff
While there are plenty of home remedies to tackle dandruff like lemon, neem, essential oils etc, they bring out hassles with them as well. You can opt for an Anti-Dandruff Shampoo like the Head & Shoulders Lemon Fresh which has the goodness of lemon along with Zinc Pyrithione which helps fight the dandruff-causing germ – Malassezia Globosa.
Risk Factors associated with Dandruff
Dandruff can happen to anyone; however, some individuals are more susceptible to the condition of dandruff owing to the following factors:
Age: Young adults are more susceptible to dandruff than individuals in old age, while it continues to affect people in middle age.
Being a Male: Men have more chances of getting dandruff to their counterpart, as per some research findings male hormones might play a role in causing dandruff.
Certain illnesses: Some diseases like Parkinson's disease can affect the nervous system and might increase the risk of getting dandruff. A weak immune system caused by HIV can also cause dandruff.
When to consult a doctor?
Dandruff is very common in young adults and the good news is that it can be treated very easily and effectively with over the counter Anti-dandruff shampoos like Head & Shoulders.
Some complications arise due to an itchy and irritated scalp and this might be an underlying skin condition like eczema, psoriasis, or a severe fungal infection. Hence, when the itch gets stubborn or your scalp becomes red or swollen then you should consult your doctor. Also, visit a doctor when none of the shampoos are helping and the redness and flaking spread across your face or other areas on the body.
Dandruff can be easily avoidable by maintaining good hygiene and a hair care routine. It is always advisable to use anti-dandruff shampoos with Zinc Pyrithione like Head and Shoulders to treat the condition the onset of dandruff symptoms. While dandruff can be embarrassing and annoying at times, it is not an indication of a serious health issue.