Doesn’t it embarrass you to brush off dandruff from your hair and shoulders all the time? Are you experiencing hair loss since your dandruff started? Dandruff is not a problem related to your hair but is the problem of the skin of your scalp. The dead skin cells that buildup on your scalp are responsible for causing these white flakes called “dandruff”. Dandruff is neither contagious nor a serious problem. It can be controlled by following simple home remedies and taking over-the-counter medications.
WHAT IS DANDRUFF?
Dandruff is a common skin condition that causes dry and white or grey flakes to appear on the scalp and hair. It is often accompanied with itching. Sometimes, severe dandruff may result in inflammation of the scalp skin.
Dandruff is a less severe form of seborrheic dermatitisor seborrhea. Seborrhea can affect different areas like ears, eyebrows, eyelids, crease of the nose, back of the neck, armpits, groin, and bellybutton. It can occur in both men and women irrespective of age. In babies, seborrheic dermatitis is characterized by greasy, yellowish crusts on scalp, eyebrows and nappy area, which is called as ‘cradle cap’.
The exact cause of dandruff is unknown. However, research suggests the following reasons for dandruff:
The other symptoms that accompany dandruff commonly include:
Your doctor may diagnose your dandruff by looking at your scalp or hair. If required, he may take a small sample of your scalp skinor send a small sample to a lab to check for any scalp related disorders (scalp biopsy). Usually, it is not necessary to consult your doctor for dandruff, as many over-the-counter products are available for treating dandruff. But, it is recommended to consult if you have severe dandruff or any serious problems like inflammation and oozing fluid or blood from your scalp due to severe itching.
Dandruff can be controlled by shampooing your hair regularly. Mild dandruff can be controlled by rinsing your hair daily with gentle shampoo. This helps in reducing oil on the scalp as well as prevents build-up of dead skin and flaking of skin. For moderate or severe dandruff, you can use medicated shampoos, which are available over the counter and should be used only if recommended by your doctor.
If one medicated shampoo is not working for you, then try another shampoo till you find the best shampoo that suits your hair. Do not worry if a particular shampoo is not working for your hair, as different shampoos suit different types of hair. If you are allergic to any shampoo, then stop using it. If you develop any reaction to the products, such as rash or hives, which needs immediate medical attention, then consult your dermatologist.
TYPES OF SHAMPOOS
Initially, medicated shampoos should be used atleast two to three times per week to control dandruff. If there is improvement, taper its use to once weekly. To further maintain and prevent dandruff, use these medicated shampoos at regular intervals.
Medicated shampoos should be used as prescribed by your physician. Read the instructions and warnings on the shampoo bottle before using it, as some shampoos may require more time to show its effect and some may need to be rinsed immediately. Your doctor may also prescribe the antifungal lotions or gels to reduce dandruff. There are different types of medicated shampoos to treat dandruff. They are:
Following simple home remedies and life-style changes can help prevent the risk of dandruff, control and manage it. These include:
Stress management: Avoid stress to control your dandruff. Stress may compromise your immune system that may aggravate or worsen your existing condition. Engage in physical activities like yoga or exercise to manage your stress.
Maintain healthy diet: Including foods rich in B-complex vitamins, zinc and healthy fats, (such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, eggs, dairy products and meat) in your diet can help you prevent dandruff.
Maintain scalp hygiene: Shampooing your scalp at least twice in a week helps to reduce the risk of dandruff. If you have oily scalp or skin, it is necessary to shampoo your hair daily. Avoid itching your scalp as much as possible to prevent worsening the existing condition.
Exposure to sun: Getting adequate sunlight helps to control your dandruff. Expose yourself to a minimum sunlight or in the morning sunlight to avoid the effects of ultraviolet rays that may cause skin cancers.
Limit use of hair styling products: Excessive use of hair styling products may aggravate the dandruff and it may also result in hair loss.
Moisturize your scalp: Coconut oil helps to restore moisture to the dry, flaky skin on the scalp. This oil also helps to reduce itching and irritation on the scalp. Conditioners can be used after shampooing to retain moisture in your scalp and also to nourish your hair.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
Shampooing often and keeping your hair clean helps to get rid of dandruff. If you have mild dandruff, use over-the-counter anti-dandruff shampoos to control your dandruff. If you have severe dandruff, consult your dermatologist, who may prescribe any medicated shampoos. Massaging your dry scalp with coconut oil frequently may also help. You should also reduce stress, maintain a healthy diet and exercise regularly to reduce the risk of dandruff.
No. Dandruff itself is not a fungus, but it can be caused due to a yeast-like fungus called ‘malassezia’, which grows along with the bacteria in the sebum glands of the scalp.
Dandruff is not life threatening, but you may feel embarrassed to brush it off from your hair and shoulders every time when you see it. So, to avoid this problem, controlling your dandruff is necessary. If not taken care of, your dandruff may lead to serious conditions of the scalp, such as seborrheic dermatitis.
Washing your hair daily is necessary to control dandruff, especially if your hair is oily. You can use anti-dandruff shampoos weekly once, if you have mild dandruff. Medicated shampoos can be used at-least twice weekly if you have severe dandruff, only after consulting your doctor.
Yes. You can use the conditioner that suits your hair well and helps to reduce your dandruff. Conditioners should be used after shampooing and then rinsed well. Using a conditioner can also moisturize your dry scalp which reduces the flaking on the scalp.
No. Do not scratch off dandruff before washing your hair, as scratching may irritate your skin and increase flake formation. These flakes may further cause itching, which increases the urge to scratch, and this vicious cycle continues. Severe scratching of your scalp may also lead to bleeding.
Stress doesn’t cause dandruff directly, but it can compromise your immune system that helps the fungus malassezia to grow on your scalp which leads to dandruff. So, you should get rid of stress to prevent dandruff, by relaxing yourself or engaging in some physical activities that releases your stress.
Whether you should oil your hair or not, depends on your hair. If you have a dry scalp and hair, you can use coconut oil to moisturize your scalp, which helps in reducing your dandruff. But, if your hair is too oily, avoid using hair oil. This can aggravate dandruff as more hair oil or sebum in scalptrigger the growth of the fungus that causes dandruff.
No. Dandruff is not contagious. Dandruff is primarily caused by conditions like inadequate hair and scalp hygiene, scalp sebum production, environmental conditions, abnormal hormone levels(during puberty usually) and other skin conditions.
Coconut oil increases dandruff only if you have oily scalp and hair. Oily scalp is suitable for the growth of the fungus ‘malassezia’ which triggers dandruff formation. Thus, applying coconut oil on oily scalp may aggravate your dandruff. But, this doesn’t happen in people who have a dry scalp.