Hair Skin Care Dandruff

Dandruff is a common problem that affects millions of people. Causing an itching, flaking scalp, dandruff can be an annoying and embarrassing problem. Caused by a number of factors, dandruff can ruin even the best hair days. Luckily, there are a number of effective dandruff treatments readily available.

Dandruff Causes

While the cause of dandruff was once unknown, researchers now believe the condition is caused by malassezia, a yeast-like fungus that consumes fat.

Malassezia is present on the scalps of most healthy adults. When it grows out of control, however, it can cause scalp irritation, which results in an increased number of dead skin cells. When these skin cells die, they clump with the oils in our hair to form white flakes.

No one knows exactly what causes malassezia to grow uncontrollably. However, researchers think the following might contribute to the problem:

  • a compromised immune system
  • illness
  • increased oil production
  • infrequent shampooing
  • neurological disorders
  • stress.

Sensitivity to the malassezia fungus can also cause it to grow uncontrollably.

Dandruff Treatment

There are a number of dandruff remedies. Keep in mind, however, that it might take a while for dandruff to resolve.

If you have a mild case of dandruff, try shampooing daily with a gentle shampoo. This will help remove excess oil from the hair and will also reduce cell buildup.

If, however, your hair doesn’t respond to gentle shampooing, you’ll need to try one of the following over-the-counter dandruff shampoos. Dandruff shampoos are categorized according to their active ingredient:

  • Ketoconazole Dandruff Shampoos: Ketoconazole, the active ingredient in this dandruff shampoo, is a broad-spectrum anti-fungal agent. It is often beneficial when other dandruff shampoos fail. This shampoo is available both over-the-counter and as a prescription.
  • Salicylic Acid Shampoos: Shampoos that contain salicylic acid help remove flakes from the scalp. However, they can cause excess drying, which can create more flakes. To counter dryness, be sure to follow with a high-quality conditioner.
  • Selenium Sulfide Shampoos: These types of dandruff shampoos help prevent cell turnover, which can help reduce dandruff flakes. They also help reduce the number of malassezia on the scalp.
  • Tar-Based Dandruff Shampoos: Coal tar can help slow cell turnover.
  • Zinc Pyrithione Dandruff Shampoos: Zinc pyrithione helps reduce the fungus that causes dandruff and is effective at controlling many cases of dandruff.

To alleviate your dandruff symptoms, shampoo with one of these shampoos daily until the flakes are gone. To get the most from your shampoo, leave it on for at least five minutes. After your dandruff is under control, use the shampoo only two or three times a week.

If the dandruff shampoos listed here don’t help control your dandruff, schedule an appointment with your doctor or dermatologist. She will likely be able to provide you with a prescription treatment.

Home Remedies for Dandruff

To help prevent dandruff, try the following at home:

  • Ease Up on the Styling Products: Styling products can build up in your hair, making it oily.
  • Eat a Healthy Diet: To prevent dandruff, makes sure your diet is rich in zinc, B vitamins and fatty acids.
  • Reduce Stress: Stress can make you susceptible to a number of conditions, including dandruff. Reduce stressors in your life and learn how to manage stress.
  • Shampoo Frequently: If your scalp is oily, you can reduce your risk of getting dandruff by shampooing often.
  • Soak Up the Sun: While too much sun is bad for the skin and the hair, getting a little sunshine can help alleviate dandruff. Spend some time outside, but be sure to wear sunscreen.

Resources

Mayo Clinic Staff (November 27, 2006). Dandruff. Retrieved October 31, 2007, from the Mayo Clinic Web site: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/dandruff/DS00456.