Itchy scalp, white flakes on your head and shoulders… the appearance of dandruff can be both uncomfortable and embarrassing. Nobody likes to have it, yet we’ve all probably had it at one point or another, no matter how diligently we wash our hair!
Although not dangerous, dandruff can be very inconvenient. Sometimes it may also signal an underlying condition.
Dandruff is very common. The skin of the scalp goes through a constant process of renewal, and sometimes, for whatever reason, the scaling builds up. But if the itchiness becomes unbearable or the part in your hair is covered in dandruff flakes, it’s time to act.
What is dandruff and what causes it?
Dandruff consists of dry skin that falls off the scalp as the skin renews itself. The process itself is normal, but when cells grow and die too fast, dandruff flakes appear. There are still many questions that remain unanswered about why.
The condition often comes as a package deal with itchiness, but the two aren’t always linked. An itchy scalp without scaling can be caused by a separate condition.
Dandruff itself can also be linked to various conditions. Pinpointing the exact reason may require a diagnosis from a dermatologist.
Most people experience dandruff at some point in their lives. It can be triggered by mundane routine changes and often resolves itself with good scalp hygiene.
Dandruff can be triggered or may be made worse by:
- Cold weather
- Over- or under-washing
- Dirt or sweat
- Oil build-up
- Overusing hair products
Common diagnoses associated with dandruff include:
- Seborrhoeic dermatitis
- Fungal infection
How to remove dandruff
In most cases, dandruff doesn’t need medical attention. However, if the flaking is caused by an underlying health condition, prescription treatment planned by a dermatologist may be needed.
Usually, the only treatment needed for regular dandruff is an anti-dandruff shampoo. A few weeks of use can help relieve itching and heal the scalp.
Anti-dandruff shampoos usually contain one or more of the following active ingredients:
- Zinc omadine or zinc pyrithione
- Piroctone olamine
- Selenium sulphide
If the shampoo of your choice doesn’t bring results after two weeks, don’t give up! You may need to try shampoos with different active ingredients to find the right one for you.
If you don’t want to try medical shampoos just yet, various home remedies can also be tried. While the benefits are contested, many people find remedies from lemon juice to apple cider vinegar, coconut oil and more to help their symptoms.
If dandruff (or itchiness) persists, or if your scalp starts bleeding or becomes infected, see a dermatologist.
Prevention is better than cure!
As with most hair and scalp issues, prevention is always better than a cure. By establishing a hair care routine that suits you, as well as a generally healthy lifestyle, we can all make sure the foundations of hair health are there. Importantly, scalp health is the main factor contributing to hair health! So, make sure to use gentle, good-quality hair products that suit your hair type.