There are enough problems to deal with on a daily basis when it comes to your hair. Is it too greasy? Is it too dry? Too flat? Too voluminous? Too curly? Too straight? Then, of course, there’s always the dreaded dandruff. It’s hard to miss the small, white flakes that linger on your scalp. But while the condition is very common, it also can be hard to treat.
WHAT IS DANDRUFF?
Dandruff is a common condition that affects the scalp. It causes the skin of the scalp to become itchy followed by flakes of dead skin. It typically starts around puberty and starts to subside around the age of 50, according to the Journal of Clinical and Investigative Dermatology.
The severity of dandruff can differ from case to case. Some cases are less aggressive and are easy to treat while others might require a medicated approach to treatment.
Your skin continually replaces itself and old cells are pushed outward where they die and flake off. Usually, these flakes are small and unnoticeable. In the case of those with dandruff, the skin cells can begin to replace more rapidly than the normal cycle. Therefore, the skin sheds in oily, larger clumps that can become visible.
WHAT CAUSES DANDRUFF?
“The most common cause of dandruff is seborrheic dermatitis or sometimes called seborrhea,” said Julie Matsushima, a licensed medical esthetician.
Dry skin, sensitivity to specific hair products and skin conditions, like eczema or psoriasis, can make you more susceptible to having dandruff. It is also believed that the common fungus malassezia can trigger dandruff.
“Malassezia increases skin cell growth and these extra skin cells die and flake off,” Matsushima explained.
Dandruff can also worsen when you’re stressed or sick. Cold, dry winters can also trigger dandruff or increase its severity. Diet plays its role, as deficiency in vitamin B or zinc can lead to dandruff as well, according to Matsushima.
Believe it or not, hygiene can also influence your chances of dealing with dandruff.
“The longer you go in between shampooing, the flakier your scalp can get,” said Dr. Alan Parks, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of DermWarehouse.
So if you’re tempted to try the “no poo” movement, keep in mind that washing your hair less frequently can unintentionally cause the oils and skin cells on your scalp to collect, which can cause visible dandruff.
Shampooing too often, on the other hand, can also dry out your scalp and lead to dandruff, Parks said, so it’s all about finding that balance that keeps your hair and scalp moisturized and flake-free.
ARE THERE ANY RISK FACTORS TO HAVING DANDRUFF?
Though anyone can be susceptible to dandruff, it actually appears more frequently in males than females. It starts as early as puberty and can continue on into adulthood. Having an oily scalp and hair can also increase the chances of the condition.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF DANDRUFF?
One of the main signs of dandruff is an itchy scalp. This is typically the first sign and then visible flakes of dead skin will follow. Red and greasy patches can also appear as well as a tingly feeling on the skin. You may also feel dryness, tightness or irritation on your scalp as well.
“Overall, dandruff lessens during warmer weather, Matsushima said. “Dandruff can also make the scalp become swollen or inflamed. You should also seek medical attention should this occur.”
You can also experience dandruff in your eyebrows, chest hair, groin area and armpits.
WHAT ARE THE BEST DANDRUFF SHAMPOOS TO GET RID OF IT FAST?
Matsushima said that products with pyrithizone zinc are popular for treating dandruff because it contains anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. She also recommended coal-based shampoos (to slow down the growth of skin cells), selenium sulfide shampoos (to slow skin cell growth and reduce malassezia), and salicylic acid (to exfoliate the scalp).
Since no one hair solution will immediately cure your dandruff, it’s smart to switch things up every once in a while to keep your flakes at bay, according to Dr. Parks: “It’s good to rotate between different ingredients and not use the same all the time otherwise you’ll build up a tolerance to the ingredient.”
While you may need to experiment with different shampoos to find the perfect match, these are popular products to help with the milder cases of dandruff.