Dandruff is a common condition that causes the skin on the scalp to flake and itch. It is not contagious or serious, but it can be embarrassing and uncomfortable. Dandruff can affect anyone, but some factors can make you more prone to it, such as age, gender, oily scalp, and certain illnesses.
What causes dandruff?
Dandruff may have several causes, including:
Irritated, oily skin. This is also known as seborrheic dermatitis, which causes red, scaly patches on the scalp and other areas of the body.
Dry skin. This can make the scalp flaky and itchy, especially in cold, dry seasons.
A yeast-like fungus (malassezia). This fungus lives on the scalps of most adults and feeds on the oils. Sometimes, it can grow out of control and irritate the skin, causing dandruff.
Sensitivity to hair care products (contact dermatitis). Some ingredients in shampoos, conditioners, or styling products can cause an allergic reaction on the scalp, leading to redness, itching, and flaking.
Other skin conditions, such as psoriasis and eczema. These can also affect the scalp and cause inflammation and scaling.
What are the symptoms of dandruff?
The main symptoms of dandruff are:
Skin flakes on your scalp, hair, eyebrows, beard or mustache, and shoulders. The flakes can be white, oily, or dry.
Itchy scalp. The irritation from dandruff can make you scratch your scalp frequently.
Scaly, crusty scalp in infants with cradle cap. This is a form of seborrheic dermatitis that affects babies and usually clears up by their first birthday.
How to get rid of dandruff?
The best way to get rid of dandruff is to use dandruff shampoo and scalp treatments. Here are some tips to follow:
Read the instructions carefully. Different types of dandruff shampoos have different directions for use. Some may require you to leave them on your scalp for a few minutes before rinsing, while others may need to be washed out immediately.
Choose the right shampoo for your hair and skin type. There are many kinds of dandruff shampoos available over the counter or by prescription. They contain different ingredients that target different causes of dandruff. For example:
Zinc pyrithione shampoos can help reduce bacteria and fungus on the scalp.
Selenium sulfide shampoos can help prevent cell turnover and control oiliness.
Ketoconazole shampoos can help fight fungal infections.
Coal tar shampoos can help slow down skin shedding and reduce inflammation.
Salicylic acid shampoos can help exfoliate and remove scales from the scalp.
Shampoo often. Depending on your hair and skin type, you may need to shampoo daily or every few days to keep your scalp clean and healthy. If you have dry hair or scalp, you may want to use a conditioner after shampooing to moisturize your hair.
Avoid harsh or irritating products. Some ingredients in hair care products can worsen dandruff or cause allergic reactions. Try to avoid products that contain alcohol, fragrances, or sulfates. You may also want to do a patch test before using a new product to see how your skin reacts to it.
How to prevent dandruff?
Dandruff can be controlled by following some simple steps:
Manage stress. Stress can trigger or worsen dandruff by affecting your immune system and hormone levels. Try to find healthy ways to cope with stress, such as exercise, meditation, or hobbies.
Eat a balanced diet. Your diet can affect your skin health and oil production. Try to eat foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, vitamin B6, and antioxidants. These nutrients can help reduce inflammation and support your immune system. Avoid foods that are high in sugar, fat, or processed ingredients, as they can increase oiliness and inflammation.
Protect your scalp from the sun. Sun exposure can damage your skin and dry out your scalp. Wear a hat or use a sunscreen when you go outside.
What are the Natural Home Remedies for Dandruff?
There are many natural home remedies that may help you get rid of dandruff. Here are some of the most popular ones:
Tea tree oil. This oil has antibacterial and antifungal properties that may help fight the fungus that causes dandruff. You can add a few drops of tea tree oil to your shampoo or dilute it with a carrier oil and apply it to your scalp. Leave it on for 15 minutes and then rinse it off.
Coconut oil. This oil can moisturize your scalp, prevent dryness, and reduce inflammation. You can massage some coconut oil into your scalp and leave it on for an hour or overnight. Then wash your hair with a mild shampoo.
Aloe vera. This plant can soothe your scalp, reduce itching, and prevent scaling. You can apply some fresh aloe vera gel to your scalp and leave it on for 30 minutes. Then wash your hair as usual.
Apple cider vinegar. This vinegar can balance the pH of your scalp, remove excess oil, and prevent fungal growth. You can mix equal parts of apple cider vinegar and water and spray it on your scalp. Leave it on for 15 minutes and then rinse it off.
Baking soda. This ingredient can exfoliate your scalp, remove dead skin cells, and absorb excess oil. You can make a paste of baking soda and water and apply it to your scalp. Leave it on for 10 minutes and then wash your hair with a mild shampoo.
Fenugreek seeds. These seeds have anti-inflammatory and antifungal properties that may help treat dandruff. You can soak some fenugreek seeds in water overnight and then grind them into a paste. Apply the paste to your scalp and leave it on for 30 minutes. Then rinse it off with water.
Curd. This dairy product can nourish your scalp, reduce itching, and prevent fungal infections. You can apply some curd to your scalp and hair and leave it on for an hour. Then wash your hair with a mild shampoo.
These are some of the natural home remedies that may help you get rid of dandruff. However, if your condition is severe or does not improve with these remedies, you may want to consult a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.
When to see a doctor?
Most people with dandruff don’t need to see a doctor unless their condition doesn’t improve with regular use of dandruff shampoo. You may want to see a doctor if you have any of these signs:
Your scalp is very red, swollen, or painful
You have signs of infection, such as pus, fever, or swollen lymph nodes
You have severe hair loss or bald patches
You have dandruff on other parts of your body, such as your face, chest, or back
You have a medical condition that affects your immune system, such as HIV or diabetes
A doctor can diagnose the cause of your dandruff and prescribe the appropriate treatment. You may need to see a dermatologist, who is a doctor who specializes in skin conditions.
What is the outlook for dandruff?
Dandruff is a chronic condition that may come and go depending on various factors. It is not a serious health problem, but it can affect your self-esteem and quality of life. With proper care and treatment, you can manage your dandruff and keep your scalp healthy and flake-free.
Dr. Karuturi Subrahmanyam, MD, FRCP (London), FACP (USA)
Internal Medicine Specialist
Phone : 85000 23456