What is Dandruff?
Dandruff refers to a condition of the scalp characterized by the flaking of the skin. The scalp becomes dry or very oily and produces white dead skin flakes that are usually visible on the hair and sometimes in facial hair as well. The condition is not harmful or dangerous and does not pose any significant threat to the hair or the skin but is usually accompanied by discomfort and itching. In many cases, it a lifelong condition, but dandruff control can be achieved by making certain alterations to the hair care regimen and using medicated hair products.
Although the condition is harmless, it can be very embarrassing to deal with as the flakes are usually prominent, and many consider it to be a sign of poor hygiene. This, however, is not always true as even with rigorous cleansing, Dandruff may continue to persist.
In most cases, Dandruff Symptoms are very difficult to miss.
- Dry skin flakes on hair, scalp, shoulders or pillows are the most obvious Symptom of Dandruff. It is important to note that Dandruff can also occur in the eyebrows, moustache or beard.
- Itchy scalp: most people with Dandruff feel an intense urge to itch their scalp, and this might prove to be problematic as too much scratching of the skin could damage the scalp and worsen the situation.
- In infants, a yellowish and thick crust is formed on the scalp called ‘cradle cap’. This requires the attention of a doctor for treatment as not all dandruff medications are suitable for infants.
It is not usually required for someone with Dandruff to consult a doctor, but in rare cases where the itching is the unbearable and daily cleansing of the scalp is not helping, a visit to the dermatologist might be the best option.
Who is at Risk?
The following are a few Risk Factors of Dandruff which increase the chances of a person developing it. However, it is important to note that pretty much everyone can develop Dandruff irrespective of these factors.
- Age: Dandruff is usually first observed in young adulthood and adolescence. Some have also claimed that puberty-related hormones are responsible for this.
- Gender: you are more likely to develop Dandruff if you are male.
- Illness or Disease: certain illnesses like HIV that affect the immune system could also increase the likelihood of Dandruff.
- There are plenty of possible answers to the question what Causes dandruff’? While the precise scientific cause of Dandruff remains unknown, there are several factors that are responsible for Dandruff.
- Seborrheic dermatitis causes the flaking of the scalp and leads to Dandruff.
- Lack of appropriate hygiene: without regular washing, the scalp may become irritated and oily and lead to Dandruff. Regular brushing is also important to get rid of dead skin cells.
- Allergy to hair products: certain shampoos and hair products contain chemicals that some individuals may be allergic to and the allergic reaction in such cases might include Dandruff.
- Dry skin
- Skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis could also lead to an itchy scalp and flaking.
Generally, if the scalp is very oily and not regularly washed and brushed, Dandruff tends to occur.
How is Dandruff Diagnosed?
The diagnosis of Dandruff can be made by any dermatologist simply by examining your hair and scalp. Due to the distinct and evident Symptoms of Dandruff, affected individuals are usually able to self-diagnose and then approach a doctor if necessary. Seborrheic dermatitis is a skin condition that Causes persistent Dandruff, and this too can be diagnosed by a dermatologist with just a physical examination. However, in some cases, the doctor might scrape off a few skin cells for testing to rule out more serious conditions like psoriasis.
How is Dandruff Treated?
Dandruff treatment is almost always effective in addressing flaking and itching of the scalp. There are several dandruff solutions available to help reduce and control flaking. If Dandruff is mild, shampooing daily with a gentle shampoo should be sufficient, but if that does not work, one can turn to medicated shampoos.
- Ketoconazole shampoo: an anti-fungal shampoo can be used at any age and helps to kill the fungi that cause Dandruff.
- Tar shampoo: coal tar contains natural anti-fungal properties and can help reduce flaking, but prolonged use could lead to discolouration of light-coloured hair and increased scalp sensitivity.
- Salicylic acid: these medicated shampoos help in eliminating flakes and dead skin cells but need to be used in moderation and as prescribed to avoid damage to scalp and hair.
- Selenium sulphide shampoo: these products are used to reduce natural oil production by the scalp and can be very helpful for those with excessively oily hair.
- Shampoos with Zinc pyrithione: anti-fungal and anti-bacterial medication.
- Tea tree oil: More and more doctors these days prefer to start with tea tree oil shampoos which are more gentle. Tea tree oil is believed to have anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties and is now used frequently in shampoos to tackle Dandruff and other scalp problems.
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How can Dandruff be Prevented?
Dandruff Prevention mainly involves lifestyle changes that can help control Dandruff or reduce the risks of developing Dandruff.
- Wash your hair regularly to get rid of excess oil and grime. If you have especially oily hair, daily washing with the appropriate shampoo might be the best way to Prevent Dandruff.
- Avoid harsh chemicals in hairs styling products or using a blow dryer at the warmest setting as this could damage the hair and affect the scalp.
- Nourish your hair by applying natural oils regularly that Prevents itching and dryness.
- Manage stress levels and get plenty of exercises to Prevent Dandruff.
- A nutritious diet with all the essential vitamins and minerals will help in achieving a healthy scalp.