Those white scaly flakes falling on our shoulders. How embarrassing and annoying. Chances are many people have had this condition once.
The cause of dandruff is unknown, it is harmless and not contagious just a nuance more often males tend to have then females.
It can tend to get worse in cold, dry seasons such as winter when we have our heat turned up. Dry, extreme heat robs our skin and scalp of moisture.
Dandruff may also flare up during stressful times. Our diet can be a contributor.
One of the symptoms can be an itchy scalp causing us to constantly scratch. This can cause a break in skin which can lead to an infection.
Dandruff can be caused by a yeast like fungus (malassezia) which feeds on the scalps oils in most adults.
A Yeast like Fungus
Malassezia are commonly a normal fat dependent fungi growing on sebaceous areas of our skin. The fungus can be found on the face, scalp and upper trunk.
However, they have been found to possibly cause or worsen some skin conditions.
The Sebaceous Gland
Sebaceous glands are often connected to our hair follicles and they release sebum (a fatty substance). The sebum released into the hair follicular duct then travels to the surface of our skin to lubricate it too. The largest number of these glands is found on our scalp and face. They are not found on the palms of our hands or soles of our feet.
Excess oils may be produced due to a diet high in fats and continued stress.
Reducing Sebum Production
- Take vitamin A
- Stay hydrated
- Eat healthy
- Take zinc
- Manage stress (check What Have You Done For You Lately?)
Managing stress can be a challenge. I have written some blogs with suggestions for this. Stress relieve defiantly improves our skin, hair and nails.
Disease and Dandruff
Dandruff seems to have a link to some inflammatory skin conditions. (Don’t pick).
Contact dermatitis may occur in some people who are sensitive to certain hair care products. You may notice this when using some products and possibly developing a rash or a constant itching sensation. If so, discontinue using the product and consult your doctor. You may be allergic to one or more of the ingredients.
Seborrheic dermatitis has a close link to the fungus (malassezia) that can be found on our scalp. There is an increase in the amount and quality of the sebum produced.
This is a chronic condition commonly appearing in middle aged adults. There can be a mild itching with small, loose, yellowish either dry or greasy scales to large red patches. This condition can affect the face and when it appears on the scalp it is called dandruff.
If the condition persist, becomes more then dandruff and no over the counter treatment has worked consult your dermatologist. This doctor will be able to diagnose the condition and give out a treatment plan. Seborrheic dermatitis, eczema and psoriasis can look similar.
Atopic dermatitis (eczema) usually begins in teens and may last through life.
Those with Parkinson’s disease a neurological disorder are more likely to have Seborrheic dermatitis.
Dandruff is dry skin, skin that is shedding; it can be relieved by frequent shampooing and brushing. However, shampooing too often can make your scalp more dry though especially if you are using a shampoo with alcohol as an ingredient. So be careful and choose a shampoo that is made for dandruff.
Brushing or combing can help with the normal shedding of the skin. You are lubricating your scalp with its natural oils and moving the shed skin along.
Aloe Vera or coconut oil may help with moisturizing the scalp.
There are many products on the market from mild to medicated shampoos. Some brands out there are:
- Head & Shoulders (many dandruff products)
- Selsun Blue
- Aveeno (with oat)
- Rugby Sebex shampoo
- Neutogena T/Gel Therapeutic Extra Strength
- Dove Derma care Anti Dandruff
Medicate shampoos contain Selenium Sulfide and Salicylic acid.
Some shampoos contain tea tree oil. However some can have an allergic reaction. Tea tree has been used as an anti-fungal, antibiotic and an antiseptic. These are its healing properties.
You should consult a dermatologist if over the counter products don’t help.