Dandruff consists of white, oily-looking flakes of dead skin that dot your hair and shoulders.
Dandruff is also another name for a condition called seborrheic dermatitis, or seborrhea.
The dandruff flakes often fall on shoulders in public and can cause embarrassment, in addition to a scalp that constantly remains itchy. Therefore, dandruff is easy to spot. The trouble is, socially it can leave you in an awkward position when every onlooker can see this condition.
What does having dandruff look like?
Even though dandruff is easy to spot, you should be looking out for the following to know for sure that you are affected by the condition:
- White flakes on shoulders of dark clothing.
- Itchy scalp.
- Scaly facial skin.
- Recurrent ear “eczema”.
- Facial rash over eyebrows, nose, and ears.
- Oily scalp and facial skin with dry flakes.
- Eyebrow rash.
- Beard rash.
What causes dandruff?
If seborrheic dermatitis is the cause of dandruff, the symptoms usually appear gradually. The scalp becomes dry or greasy, is red, and feels itchy. As skin cells die, they turn to yellowish scales. A bad case of seborrheic dermatitis can also cause symptoms in other parts of the body. Yellowish or reddish scaling can appear on the hairline, in and around the ears, on the nose and chest.
Affected newborn babies may get a thick, yellowish, crusty rash on the scalp, called cradle cap.
If it is not seborrheic dermatitis that you are dealing with, then these are the most likely causes of dandruff:
- irritated and oily skin.
- not shampooing enough, which causes skin cells to accumulate and create flakes and itching.
- yeast called malassezia, which aggravates itching in your scalp and causes excess skin cell growth.
- different personal care products may cause contact dermatitis, which makes your scalp red and itch.
Dandruff is a common condition. It is not related to poor hygiene, but it may be more visible if a person does not wash or brush their hair often.
Occasionally, physicians may find it necessary to perform a scalp biopsy where a small amount of scalp skin is removed under local anesthesia and submitted for examination under a microscope to assess the actual cause of severe dandruff.
Keep in mind, that the yeast that causes dandruff feasts on the saturated fatty acids found in oils like coconut and olive oil. So applying oil on an infected scalp may accelerate the multiplication of dandruff.
You may even notice that dandruff symptoms (dryness, flakes and itch) become more of a problem when you are under stress.
Research has shown that an irritated scalp can actually damage your hair. If you have dandruff, your hair may grow at the same rate, but it will likely be more prone to damage and breakage.
What will dandruff lead to?
While dandruff itself doesn’t cause hair loss, many of the health conditions that cause dandruff can damage your hair follicles and result in shedding. Severe dandruff can lead to hairloss.
How can you treat dandruff?
You can use aloe vera extract or aloe vera gel to get rid of your dandruff. Moisturizing capabilities of aloe vera can change the texture of the scalp, that is one of the causes of dandruff. Aloe vera kills bacteria in the hair follicles. It not only treats dandruff but also stops general hair fall.
Skin sensitivity is one trait that can be inherited from our parents. So it is not really dandruff that is hereditary, but rather some of the factors that cause it are. In that case, you may need some patience to treat the condition.
Experts recommend a medicated dandruff shampoo (which you can find at drugstores) every day, one that contains ketoconazole, selenium sulfide, or zinc. If your hair is coarse, though, and you’re concerned that daily shampooing will make it more brittle, you may want to use a dandruff conditioner too.
These top five shampoos will give you relief sooner:
- Dove Dermacare Scalp Anti-Dandruff Shampoo.
- Neutrogena T/Sal Shampoo Scalp Build-Up Control.
- Nizoral A-D Anti-Dandruff Shampoo.
- Selsun Blue Moisturizing Dandruff Shampoo.
- Head & Shoulders 2-in-1 Anti-Dandruff Shampoo.
For maximum benefit, the shampoos should be left on the scalp for five minutes before rinsing. Coal tar shampoo is also effective, although it may discolour light-coloured hair.
Cut down on sugar, salt, and trans saturated fats. Chuck that processed diet and welcome home fruits and green leafy vegetables. Eaten cooked or raw, these are a rich source of antioxidants and minerals like zinc and vitamin B, and omega 3 fatty acids.
Wash your hair regularly to avoid oil build-up. Use home remedies like baking soda masks to soak up excess oil.
For an even easier remedy, try crushing two tablets of aspirin and adding the powder to your shampoo before washing your hair.
Head & Shoulders 2-in-1 Anti-Dandruff Shampoo is the choice of most people when it comes to choosing a shampoo.
Differentiate between dandruff and lice
Lice lay eggs called nits while dandruff causes flaky skin. The two look similar, but close inspection reveals key differences. Nits stick to the hair while dandruff flakes, easily falling off the hair. While dandruff is visible on the scalp, lice lay eggs on hair, not the scalp.
Consult your doctor personally before you start treating dandruff or before you assume that you have it. Even though people do not visit doctors if they have dandruff, in severe cases one must receive a consultation.
Dandruff itself may not be a dangerous disease, but the outcome it produces when it is combined with other factors can be potentially serious.