Dandruff is a common condition characterised by the flaking of the skin on the scalp. In most cases, it is not severe or contagious, but often embarrassing and difficult to treat.
The good part is that dandruff can be controlled with regular shampooing, or by using a gentle cleanser. But first, let’s understand the causes and symptoms of dandruff.
What Causes Dandruff?
The shedding of dead skin cells is a normal & continuous process. However, when skin cells start shedding at a faster than usual rate, these dead cells may clump together due to the oil on the scalp, and appear as white flakes.
But, what causes the skin cells on your scalp to shed faster?
Irritated, oily scalp
An oily scalp is a common cause of dandruff. Skin cells mix with the oil on your scalp to form a layer of yellowish-white flakes that stick to it. Overproduction of oil may also lead to seborrheic dermatitis which is marked by red, greasy, sensitive skin covered with yellow scales.
Seborrheic dermatitis might also affect other areas of the body, such as the eyebrows, the breastbone, the back of your ears, and your groin in addition to the scalp. Certain skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema may also lead to dandruff on your scalp.
Cold, winter air is a common irritant that leads to scalp dryness, this could give your scalp a flaky appearance. Flakes associated with dry skin are generally smaller and white in colour. A dry scalp is usually easier to treat and is mostly not associated with any itching or redness.
Malassezia, a yeast-like fungus that could irritate the scalp lives on the scalp of most adults. Some people may develop dandruff due to the presence of this fungus. Malassezia leads the skin cells to develop at a faster rate so that the extra skin cells die and fall off, appearing as white flakes in your hair and on your clothes.
Not caring for your scalp
Brushing your hair regularly reduces the incidence of dandruff, as it helps the skin to shed normally. It is also important to wash your hair frequently, as not shampooing enough can lead to oil and cell build-up that may cause dandruff.
Lifestyle and Stress
The rigours of the modern lifestyle lead to stress in most adults, which may be linked to dandruff. Apart from stress, our diet is a crucial link to avoiding dandruff. A diet lacking B-vitamins and Omega-3 fatty acids is also said to increase the risk of dandruff.
Treatment and Prevention
Dandruff is a common condition that can occur anytime between adolescence & middle age It affects more men when compared to women. However, it is possible to control dandruff in most cases by regularly cleaning your scalp with a gentle, non-medicated shampoo. It is recommended to massage your scalp firmly while applying the shampoo, and then rinse it thoroughly to remove the dead skin cells, and prevent oil build-up. Repeat this process for a week and if you don’t see any results, switch to a medicated, anti-dandruff shampoo with ingredients such as selenium sulphide, salicylic acid, sulphur, ketoconazole, or zinc pyrithione.
In case you don’t see any improvement in your condition in a fortnight or experience irritation or itching on the scalp, it is best to consult a hair specialist; for a better diagnosis of your condition. Consulting a dermatologist would help you establish the cause and extent of your condition.
Remember, dandruff affects a large percentage of the adult population and it can be treated only after careful diagnosis. Instead, consult a doctor today to improve the health of your scalp immediately.
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