Decoding Dandruff- Causes, Prevention, And Treatment
Dandruff is one of the most common scalp conditions. It is also one of the primary reasons for people to call up their dermatologists. Dandruff, characterised by the presence of white, dusty, flaky particles on your hair and shoulders and intense itching in the scalp, can be a socially embarrassing condition. While dandruff is not a major physical health concern, it can cause a lot of mental and emotional damage. Read along to understand more about this condition, its causes, prevention tips, and treatment methods.
What Is Dandruff?
Dandruff is a scalp condition characterised by itching and flaking. It can occur due to several causes ranging from poor hygiene to fungal infections. Though not a serious health condition, dandruff can be a huge source of discomfort and social embarrassment.
What Causes Dandruff?
Dandruff can be caused by several factors. Sometimes, dandruff may be a symptom of an underlying disease condition of the scalp.
- Dry Scalp
A dry scalp is one of the leading causes of dandruff. When the scalp lacks hydration, it becomes dry, causing itching and flaking.
- Seborrheic Dermatitis
This is a condition characterised by redness, itching, and excessive oiliness. Seborrheic dermatitis is commonly seen in places where there are lots of oil glands present, like the face and the scalp. This condition can contribute significantly to flaking of the scalp.
Malassezia is a yeast-like fungus that is naturally present in the scalp. It proliferates and overgrows under certain conditions, leading to the development of dandruff.
- Poor Hygiene
Not washing your hair regularly can lead to a build-up of oil, dirt, and grime. This provides a perfect environment for the organisms naturally present on the scalp to grow. Bacteria from the outside can also settle on the dirty scalp. All this leads to severe itching and flaking.
- Hormonal Imbalances
The fluctuations in hormonal levels can harm the scalp. You may find an increase in hair and scalp-related conditions during periods of hormonal fluctuations like pregnancy, menopause, and perimenopause.
High levels of stress can affect your body at different levels. Dandruff and hair fall are commonly seen in people who are extremely stressed and worn out.
- Hair Care Products
Several hair care products like shampoos, conditioners, colouring agents, and hair serums are loaded with chemicals that can potentially damage your scalp and cause dandruff.
- Styling Tools
Frequently using blow-dryers, curlers or straighteners can dry out your hair and scalp leading to itching and flaking.
Can Dandruff Be Prevented?
Dandruff is a disturbing occurrence. It can be prevented by addressing the underlying conditions and adopting a hygienic hair care routine.
- Wash your hair regularly with a mild shampoo. This will remove the dirt and grime settled in your scalp and keep it clean, thus preventing flaking.
- Eat a diet that has all the vital nutrients for good hair health. Zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, and the B Complex vitamins, especially vitamin B7, are crucial for good hair health.
- Avoid harsh hair products. Shampoos, conditioners, and hair colouring products are loaded with chemicals that can ruin your scalp. Use mild products that work as effectively without causing damage.
- As much as possible, avoid using blow dryers and hair styling tools like curlers and straighteners. These tools suck out the moisture from your scalp and leave it very dry. This leads to itching and flaking.
- Manage your stress levels. Practice yoga and other techniques that will help calm you down. Keeping stress levels under check can help in reducing dandruff.
How Can Dandruff Be Treated?
When dandruff is not controlled by good hygiene and all the preventive measures, a visit to your dermatologist is a must. There are several effective treatment methods available. However it is essential that you get a thorough clinical assessment done to rule out any underlying disease cause for dandruff. A suitable treatment plan can then be charted out based on your condition.
- Medicated Shampoos
There are a lot of medicated shampoos that are available over the counter (OTC) that effectively treat dandruff.
Look for products that contain the following-
- Selenium Sulphide- This active ingredient kills the infection-causing organisms and slows down the growth of the cells, thus effectively arresting dandruff.
- Ketoconazole- This is an antifungal agent that targets the Malassezia fungus and helps in reducing dandruff.
- Salicylic Acid- This chemical aids in clearing your scalp of dead cells and grime. Salicylic acid can be used in combination with other treatments too.
- Zinc Pyrithione- Zinc is a scalp-friendly chemical. It has antifungal and antibacterial properties that are great for combating dandruff
- Coal Tar Shampoos
Cola tar helps to reduce inflammation and also slows down the growth of new cells. Coal tar is very effective in controlling the itching and flaking of the scalp, especially if it is caused by an underlying condition like psoriasis or eczema.
If you suffer from severe seborrheic dermatitis, your doctor may opt for a corticosteroid to treat your condition. Corticosteroids are powerful agents that effectively reduce the cell growth and also clear the infection. Corticosteroids are available in the form of creams and ointments.
- Antifungal Creams
Using a topical antifungal cream on the affected areas of the scalp helps to fight the infection and reduces the itching and flaking.
Exposing the scalp to a controlled amount of ultraviolet (UV) rays for a controlled amount of time helps reduce the symptoms in stubborn cases of dandruff.
Dandruff is a common scalp condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It may not be a serious health condition, but it can take a toll on your mental health. The flaking and itching can be a cause of severe social embarrassment. Dandruff can be prevented by taking simple measures such as a good diet and following proper hygiene. There are several over-the-counter shampoos available that help treat dandruff. In case of persistent and severe dandruff, walk into Kosmoderma Skin, Hair and Body Clinics. Our expert dermatologists will assess your scalp and formulate a personalised treatment plan that will free you from the clutches of dandruff!