Are you annoyed by the white flakes that fall from your scalp every time you comb? We get it. Dandruff can make your scalp extremely flaky and itchy. But the good part is that it is not a serious condition and happens to most people at least once in their lifetime. (1)
So in this article, we tell you all the causes, types and treatments for dandruff.
Symptoms Of Dandruff
- White flakes on scalp (that can be spotted when you wear dark clothes)
- Ear eczema
- Redness on scalp
- Scaly skin
- Oily skin with dry flakes
- Rashes on chest
- Eyebrow rash/beard rash
What Causes Dandruff?
Studies suggest that mainly three factors may contribute to the development of dandruff on your scalp:
1. An Overproduction Of Sebum
Sebum is the oil that is secreted by tiny glands present under the layers of your skin. These glands produce the oil to keep your skin hydrated and serve various purposes that contribute to maintaining good skin health. At times, an overproduction of this oil may lead to the development of dandruff on your scalp.
Research suggests that certain kinds of bacteria called Propionibacterium and Staphylococcus play a large role in contributing to the development of dandruff.
A fungus called Malassezia usually resides on most of our scalps. This fungus may sometimes irritate our skin, causing itchiness and the growth of extra skin cells. The cells eventually die, resulting in dandruff (2).
3. Seborrheic Dermatitis
This dry skin condition is a more severe form of dandruff that results in skin inflammation and scaling. It can affect the scalp and contribute to the development of dandruff and flakiness.
This condition may be slightly painful to touch and you may need to urgently consult your doctor if you experience mild pain or redness on your scalp.
Other factors that can contribute to the development of dandruff on your scalp include:
- Dry skin
- Certain skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis
- Harsh skincare products
How Can You Treat A Dandruff-Affected Scalp?
1. Home Remedies
A. Tea Tree Oil
This ingredient is popular in many skincare products and has been used traditionally to treat a variety of skin conditions from acne to eczema. It contains antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties (3). This can alleviate dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis symptoms.
A study conducted on 126 people saw a 41 per cent reduction in symptoms, including itchy and greasy scalp (4).
B. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil can be used to reduce dandruff symptoms. It aids in skin hydration, reducing flaky and dry skin. Research suggests that coconut oil can considerably improve skin hydration (5).
It also improves eczema symptoms, a condition that contributes to dry and flaky skin. A study conducted on people experiencing dandruff symptoms suggests that applying coconut oil to your scalp everyday can improve dandruff symptoms by 68 per cent (6).
C. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
They are vital to maintain good skin health (7). A deficiency in omega-3 fatty acids in your body may contribute to the development of dandruff and a dry scalp (8). Salmon, mackerel and walnuts are good food sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
- These acids provide a number of skin benefits:
- Keep your skin hydrated
- Manage sebum production
- Reduce inflammation of your skin
- Reduce signs of aging
D. Lemongrass Oil
Lemongrass oil has been traditionally used to support the dietary system and lower blood pressure. It’s only in the recent past that the benefits of this oil in treating dandruff have come out.
Lemongrass oil’s anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial qualities can help alleviate symptoms of dandruff. This oil may cause an allergic reaction if applied directly to your skin.
It is recommended for you to mix a few drops in your shampoo or conditioner before applying it to your scalp. You can also dilute it in water and apply to your dandruff-affected scalp areas.
E. Aloe Vera Gel
The aloe vera plant is known for its healing properties. It also has moisture-retaining properties that reduce flaky and dry skin. Aloe vera’s antimicrobial properties can also help reduce dandruff symptoms (9).
2. Medical treatments
A. Pyrithione Zinc Shampoos
These contain zinc pyrithione that has antibacterial and antifungal properties (10). Such shampoos may alleviate dandruff symptoms by killing the microbes that cause it.
B. Tar-Based Shampoos
These shampoos tend to slow-down the pace at which your scalp produces dead skin cells. However, they may cause sun-sensitivity.
C. Selenium Sulfide
This ingredient has antifungal properties that can reduce dandruff symptoms. It also decreases the natural oil produced in the scalp.
D. Salicylic Acid
Salicylic acid has been used in dermatology for years, to treat a number of skin disorders and address many skin concerns. Shampoos that contain salicylic acid can help reduce flakiness.
These have antifungal properties that may help reduce dandruff symptoms like itchiness, redness and a flaky scalp.
How To Prevent Dandruff?
1. Change Your Diet
If you’re health-conscious, this isn’t for you. But if you’re somebody who loves food and follows a diet high in carbohydrates and bad fats that promote acne breakouts, there maybe a possibility that your diet is contributing to your dandruff too.
Carbohydrates in your skin produce glycogen, which yeast feeds on. This can result in the development of dandruff.
2. Wear A Hat When You Step-Out
Pollution can worsen your condition. The air around you is filled with chemicals that constantly attack your skin and body without your knowledge. These may irritate your scalp, resulting in and contributing to symptoms of dandruff.
3. Wash Your Hair Regularly
Washing your hair regularly is important to remove excess oil and dead skin cells that contribute to dandruff. However, washing your hair too often is also bad. This is because when you wash your hair excessively, it strips away essential oils and moisture from your scalp, resulting in dry and flaky skin.
4. Use Clean Combs And Brushes
Your hair tools may be packed with product residue even if you can’t see it. Clean your combs and brushes regularly to prevent this from causing dandruff on your scalp.
5. Avoid Using Harsh Shampoos On Your Scalp
Products that contain harmful chemicals can cause your skin to dry up and get flaky. They remove necessary oils from your scalp, promoting the development of dandruff.
6. Don’t Scratch Your Scalp
Scratching an itchy part of your scalp may result in an itch-scratch cycle that can worsen the situation.
When Should You Consult Your Doctor?
Dandruff usually doesn’t require a doctor to keep a check. However, in certain cases, if you spot any redness and inflammation on your scalp, you can visit your doctor. In case your dandruff symptoms don’t improve post treatment, talk to your dermatologist.
Can Serious Health Concerns Contribute To Dandruff?
A weakened immune system may contribute to dandruff. Diseases such as HIV that slow-down the immune system may increase your risk of developing dandruff.
As you age, your sebaceous glands produce less oil. This can also mean a dry and flaky scalp.
Some researchers think that male hormones play a role in the development of dandruff. This is because dandruff is more common in males than females.
Dandruff And Hair Fall
A lot of people believe that dandruff may lead to hair fall. What really results in hairfall is the vigorous scratching of your scalp that comes along with dandruff. When you scratch your scalp too much, you damage your hair follicles. This results in hair loss.
However, in certain cases, dandruff does lead to hair fall. A condition called androgenic alopecia causes baldness in men and women. If you happen to be victim of this condition and are experiencing dandruff symptoms, there is a possibility that you might see an increase in hair fall.
- Dandruff is mainly caused by dry skin conditions, microorganisms or an overproduction of sebum.
- Home remedies to treat dandruff include tea tree oil, coconut oil, omega fatty acids, lemongrass oil and aloe vera gel.
- Your doctor may prescribe specific shampoos based on your condition to reduce dandruff on your scalp.
- However, if you don’t see any improvement despite trying all the above remedies, please visit your doctor.
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