Dandruff is an embarrassing condition that has plagued all of us at some point. It is not a seasonal or age-related issue but a condition that can happen at any time during the year, and anyone from a child to a senior citizen can fall prey to it. Even though dandruff does not usually imply anything serious concerning your health, it can be a socially stigmatised condition. Understanding the causes, treatment, hair care routine, and home remedies for dandruff can help you steer clear of trouble. Read along to learn more about how you can keep dandruff at bay.
Understanding Dandruff- Causes And Treatment
Dandruff is known medically as seborrhoeic dermatitis. It is characterised by excessive flaking of the skin on the scalp. Itching and hair fall are also associated with dandruff. Dandruff can be an embarrassing condition to suffer from.
Causes Of Dandruff
Several factors contribute to the development of dandruff
- Infections: 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Stress: 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.
Treatment Options For Dandruff
Dandruff can generally be managed by maintaining a clean scalp and following a good hair care routine
. When several attempts at at-home methods fail to give any results, it is advisable to visit a dermatologist for further guidance. The treatment for dandruff generally includes medicated shampoos, medications like steroids and in extreme cases, phototherapy.
- 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 an underlying condition like psoriasis or eczema causes itan underlying condition like psoriasis or eczema causes it.
- Corticosteroids: 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 cell growth and 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.
- Phototherapy: 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.
Crafting A Hair Care Routine For Fighting Dandruff
Simple measures taken at the right time help in combating dandruff. These measures can also be taken regularly to keep dandruff at bay.
- Oiling: Dryness is one of the main reasons for the itching and flaking of the scalp. Oiling your hair regularly helps to provide essential nutrients to the scalp. It also ensures that your scalp does not dry out after washing.
- Gentle shampoo: Strong-scented shampoos that contain harsh chemicals can be damaging to the scalp. They strip your scalp of the essential oils, making it dry, itchy and flaky. Use a gentle and mild shampoo to keep your scalp moisturised and dandruff-free.
- Rinsing Thoroughly: When the hair is not rinsed well, it leads to the build-up of all the products that we use on our hair. Be it shampoo, conditioner, oil, styling creams and gels, or colouring agents, they all stay back and form a layer on your scalp if not washed off properly. This leads to itching and flaking.
- Avoiding Hot Water: Hot water can be harsh on your scalp and can strip off the essential moisture from the scalp. This is why all dermatologists advise to avoid using hot water for washing the hair. Instead, use lukewarm water to clean your tresses.
- Brushing Regularly: Brushing regularly, especially before you go to bed at night, helps to spread out the natural oils of the scalp evenly. This prevents oil pile-up and eventual flaking. Brushing also improves your hair growth as it ensures nourishment.
Home Remedies To Combat Dandruff
Our kitchens are a storehouse of several ingredients that act as a potential cure for several conditions. From a common cold to stomach upsets, the kitchen is where you can find relief. Here are some home remedies that you can try for relief from dandruff.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: The acidity of the ACV helps to balance out the pH of your scalp, providing relief from the itching. ACV also has antibacterial action, which helps to kill the infection-causing bacteria on the scalp. Mix equal parts of water and ACV and apply it on your scalp. Leave it on for 15 to 20 minutes and then wash off thoroughly.
- Aloe Vera: Aloe vera has soothing properties that act as a balm for intense itching. Apply fresh aloe vera gel to your scalp and let it sit for 30 minutes. Rinse well.
- Tea Tree Oil: This essential oil has antifungal and antibacterial properties and is extremely beneficial for people suffering from dandruff. Mix a few drops of tea tree oil with a carrier oil and apply it to your scalp. Leave it on for 30 minutes before washing it off thoroughly.
- Coconut Oil: This wonder ingredient is often considered a panacea for hair. Warm a little coconut oil and apply it to your scalp. Massage gently with the balls of your fingers and leave it overnight. Wash off the following day with warm water. Coconut oil works against dandruff by soothing the itchiness and moisturising the scalp.
Dandruff is a common scalp condition that affects people of all ages. Though it is not a serious health condition, 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.
- 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.