Dandruff – Its causes & how to get rid of that unpleasant dandruff

White flakes on the blacktop? Embarrassed to go out with that flaky hair? Well, it’s not only you! Dandruff is a very common trait which everyone faces at some point in time. It is not contagious but difficult to treat. 

Dandruff is a dead skin cell in the scalp, which sheds quickly in the form of flakes and sometimes makes the scalp itchy. 

The oil produced in the scalp further creates dandruff, hence, seborrheic dermatitis is the primary driver of dandruff. Seborrheic dermatitis, a condition that turns the skin oily, red & itchy, flaked, and textured. In infants, it’s called a cradle cap.

There’s a normal presence of fungus on our body & scalp, but when this comes in contact with oil, fungal growth multiplies. Likewise, when this fungus called Malassezia, reacts with oil glands produced in the scalp, it triggers dandruff. 

Wherever there are oil organs, be it your eyebrows, crotch, armpits, or the edges of your nose, you are likely to get Seborrheic dermatitis.

Some common causes that can multiply the fungal growth leading to the flaky scalp:

– Oily Skin

– Genetics & Hormones 

– Stress

– Age

– Unhealthy lifestyle/eating habits

The flakes are more visible in cold or dry weather conditions.

How dandruff affects your hair?

Oily skin leads to a sticky scalp and that’s where dandruff is more common. 

> Weaker roots – When the oil secretion is higher in the scalp, it damages the hair quality. Also, when Malassezia, in contact with oil, stays for a longer time, it impairs the root. 

> Premature whitening of hair – Due to chronic inflammation in the scalp, the hair gets devoid of proper blood supply, damaging the hair pigmentation. There are higher chances of premature canities (premature greying) at an early age. 

> Damages hair texture – Since the scalp becomes sticky and itchy, dandruff ideally damages the hair texture and hair doesn’t remain as silky as it should be. 

> Triggers hair fall – Scalp with more dandruff, weakens the roots. Dandruff is one of the reasons for the excessive hair fall.  

How to keep dandruff at a distance? 

You must have tried all possible shampoos and over-the-counter remedies on your scalp but in vain.  It can also cause pimples, and lead to low self-esteem because of social awkwardness.

It’s not true that dirty hair or poor hygiene can cause dandruff, although it could be a reason if you are already having dandruff.

Treatment for dandruff – 

Keep scalp oil-free.

Do not oil your hair frequently, as it can block the pores leading to more flakes. If you are applying oil, keep it for one hour and wash it!

Get some steam treatment.

Steam helps to regain the moisture content and strengthens your hair. It opens the hair follicles so that they can absorb nutrients keeping them hydrated. Above all, steam also keeps hair healthier, reduces hair fall, and restores shine.

Limit using hair styling products.

Constant use of styling products can make your hair look greasy and due to product built-up, it blocks the pores giving rise to the secretion of sebum (oil). Hence, itchy scalp and more flakes.

Keep your hair clean.

Not washing your hair frequently keeps the dead skin for a longer time which blocks the pores and fungal growth rate exceeds. This makes the scalp flakier & also weakens the roots.

Manage stress.

Stress gives rise to hormones that not only make you look dull but also affect hair quality. It can be a reason for hair loss and dandruff. So meditate, breathe & relax. 

Modify your lifestyle.

Unhealthy eating habits, no physical activity & a lot of stress are enough to affect you physically & mentally. For healthier hair, sweat out a little, and avoid oily & greasy food.

Get sugar level checked.

Age can also be a reason for dandruff. For elderly people, it’s necessary to keep a check on blood sugar levels.

Try natural remedies.

Including natural remedies in your hair care routine can be beneficial. An apple cider vinegar rinse is a quick and easy remedy for dandruff that can actually reduce the presence of Malassezia fungus on the scalp.

Choose hair products wisely.

To treat dandruff, it is suggested to keep your scalp oil-free and use dandruff shampoo. Some hair care products contain a medical value that could restrict fungal growth and reduce flakes. 

Some suggestions to avoid dandruff are –

> Ketoconazole lotion. 

It is an anti-dandruff lotion also known as stay on lotion. Apply the lotion on your scalp overnight and wash it in the morning. It helps to kill the fungus. 

> Medicated shampoo.

These shampoos reduce the load of fungal growth. 

The most common shampoos are Ketoconazole & Zinc Pyrithione. You need to be consistent with the use of these shampoos as you cannot expect to have forever flake-free hair on the very first wash. 

Unlike other shampoos, lather it well, avoiding nail scathing, and keep it for at least 5-7 mins. Females can use these shampoos twice a week & males can go for 4-5 days a week. Once controlled, limit the use to once a week. 

Oral medications.

When the medicated shampoos don’t work, depending on the severity, dermatologists prescribe some oral medicines to control the oil production. Some of them are Itraconazole capsules, Ketoconazole capsules, Isotretinoin capsules. 

Only after the proper consultation by your dermatologists, these oral medications are advisable.

Visit your dermatologists. 

If there’s no improvement in your dandruff condition even after using over-the-counter shampoos, if they are getting worse, or if your scalp looks swollen or red, then you must make a visit to your dermatologists. There could be some underlying health conditions seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis, fungal infections of the scalp, or eczema that need attention.