Dandruff is a disorder of the scalp that causes itching and flaking of the skin and can affect the confidence and self-esteem of the sufferer.
The largest organ of the human body, the skin, is designed to slough-off the dead cells as new ones are produced. In many people there seems to be an increase in the amount of dead skin shed during this process. Dandruff can affect anyone of any age, race or culture and can vary in severity. It can present as large amounts of very small particles, to extremely large flakes, in both dry and greasy hair, and tends to be worse in the winter months.
Causes of Dandruff
Most experts agree that dandruff is the excessive production of a type of fungus called Pityrosporum ovale which lives normally on our skin all of the time. What cannot be agreed upon is the cause for this over production. Theories range from the use of hair products, hormonal imbalances, dietary influences or from stress.
Treatments for Dandruff
The most obvious and easiest treatment for dandruff would be to change the shampoo and conditioners used and to limit or discontinue the use of styling products. Select products that are specially designed for the treatment of dandruff and use the same product continually; changing the product will prevent the full benefit of the anti-dandruff lotions from functioning as these sometimes take up to three weeks to take effect.
In severe cases, experts may recommend the use of solutions that contain zinc pyritheone or selenium sulphide. Both of these ointments contain active ingredients aimed at combating dandruff and are not harmful to the skin.
If you are worried about dandruff, seek advice from a skin specialist who will be able to advise you on whether a specialised lotion is required.
If there are any additional symptoms such as soreness or crusting of the scalp, this may indicate a different disorder such as ringworm or psoriasis which both need treating in a separate manner.
Dandruff may be less obvious if dark coloured clothing is avoided on the upper half of the body as the flakes that fall won’t be so noticeable.
It may also be beneficial to towel dry hair using a blotting technique as vigorous rubbing may cause the scalp to shed more.
As the cause of dandruff is not entirely known, it is difficult to pinpoint exactly how to avoid it. Many experts suggest that by gently massaging the scalp, aiding in increasing the blood circulation, instead of scratching it will help to prevent the skin being disrupted.
Limiting the use of hair products will also help to reduce the likelihood of flakes as many people find that certain hairsprays or gels dry over time and can appear as dandruff when the effects are wearing out.
It is thought a diet with sufficient vitamin B6 will help to prevent the scalp from sloughing-off dead skin cells, if you think you may be lacking in this substance, a supplement can be taken.
The incidence of dandruff is not related to poor personal hygiene as such, although there may be evidence to suggest that it is slightly more common in those with greasy hair than dry. Greasy hair is not only a side-effect of infrequent washing; it is a hair type so may be unavoidable.
Apart from those with no hair, nobody can guarantee that they will never be affected by dandruff and the solution seems to be finding a product that helps to reduce the appearance of flakes.