Dandruff: The Basics
Dandruff can be a real annoyance. While it is a harmless issue, dandruff can be itchy and keep others from getting close. For obvious reasons, people associate dandruff on your clothing with poor hygiene. You don’t want to go into a meeting or a date with a sprinkling of flakes on your shoulders.
The truth is that dandruff has nothing to do with your personal hygiene. It’s all about the condition of your scalp. When skin cells die off too fast, dandruff may occur. The reason some people get dandruff while others don’t is yet unclear. It may have something to do with a common fungus called malasezzia. Some scientists theorize that your immune system may overact to this fungus which results in dandruff.
Dandruff can become more severe if you are stressed or sick. A cold winter can also make it worse. Another cause of dandruff is seborrheic dermatitis. People who have this condition can also have dandruff on other places on the body. These include in the ears, on the face, and chest.
Dandruff is not serious and does not impact your general health in a negative way. So, you can treat it at home without seeing your doctor in most cases. Most of these methods are easy to implement and take up very little additional time in your daily routine.
First, you should try brushing or combing your hair more regularly. When you put some time into brushing your hair, it takes the oil from your scalp and releases it into your hair. The reduction of oil in the scalp can help control the dandruff.
There are different kinds of dandruff shampoo, each distinguished by their active ingredients. These active ingredients can be:
- Coal tar preparations
- Salicylic acid
- Selenium sulfide
Some people need to use different types of dandruff shampoo. You need to experiment to see what works best for you. Also, a shampoo may work for a while and then stop working. The instructions for the use of each shampoo are always written on the package and should be followed.
These days many people are returning to natural or home remedies to treat common health ailments. If you want something more natural to treat your dandruff, then try one of these natural remedies:
- Tea tree oil — You can apply a small quantity of this oil to your scalp. Some people may have allergic reactions to it, though so try a small spot on your scalp first.
- Aloe — The aloe vera plant is used to treat a lot of health conditions. It’s the fluid in the leaves that is helpful for dandruff and many other ailments. People with sebbhoreic dermatitis seem to gain relief from aloe vera. Aloe vera comes is widely available in a gel form if you don’t want to use the leaves directly. Make sure you look for 100 percent aloe with no dyes or additives.
- Baking soda — This common kitchen product can be helpful for dandruff. You simply apply it to wet hair and scalp a couple of times a week. It may take a while to see results, but when you do, you’ve found an inexpensive and safe way to treat your problem.
- Olive oil — This product can temporarily remove dandruff flakes. Just use a little bit on the scaly patches of your scalp. Let it remain on your scalp for an hour and then apply a brush to it. Be careful not to use too much; you don’t want sloppy, oily hair.
Since stress and anxiety can cause dandruff, you need to find ways of relaxing your mind and spirit. Stress can be relieved by meditating or working out. If you have a severe case, you may need to see a therapist to help you. Feel free to read our section on stress and useful ways to reduce it.
If you have a severe problem with dandruff that does not go away with these treatments, then it is time to get your doctor involved. Your doctor can prescribe something stronger or give professional advice.
Dandruff and Diet
Although there hasn’t been a lot of research that indicates it, some scientists and doctors believe diet can affect your dandruff. Anecdotal evidence seems to state the same diet that is good for your body as a whole is good in terms of controlling dandruff. Other doctors theorize that cutting back on sugar and simple carbohydrates might help. This may reduce general inflammation which may ease your dandruff. Also, diets high in sugar, processed food, and bad fats can lead to insulin spikes. This increases hormone surges that can trigger more oil production.
Some Reasons Why You Might Get Dandruff
These are some common reasons that may lead you to a dry and itchy scalp:
Seborrhea — This is a common skin condition that causes redness, itching, and flaking. It can happen on many different parts of your body.
Scalp psoriasis — Psoriasis occurs when the immune system causes too many skin cells to grow on your body. The scalp can be one of those areas. Psoriasis is not dandruff itself, but it can make it more likely that you will get dandruff.
Eczema — This is a skin problem that can make you itchy and flaky. Children are more prone to it, but anyone can get it. The cause of the condition is still unknown.
Some systemic diseases are linked to dandruff as well. It is known that Parkinson’s and HIV are associated with a higher incidence of dandruff.
Is Dandruff Contagious?
Dandruff is not contagious. However, dandruff can get worse if certain yeasts or fungi increase in numbers on your scalp. These organisms are already present in smaller numbers on your skin, so they are not considered to be contagious.
There is a kind of dandruff that occurs in animals which is contagious. This is called walking dandruff. This skin condition is caused by small mites. And yes, humans can contract this condition. For more information on walking dandruff check out this xxxxlinkxxxx. There are topical treatments for this condition and general precautions which can be implemented.
Five Ways to Prevent Dandruff
1. Medical experts believe that some exposure to sunshine can help prevent dandruff. You just have to be a little careful. Exposure to too much sunlight can be harmful to your skin and scalp.
2. The dry winter weather can dry out your scalp. A good way of remedying this problem is to get a humidifier. It is always important to make sure that your humidifier is cleaned out regularly as a dirty humidifier can cause other issues.
3. Managing stress can help you manage your dandruff. Medical experts think that stress can trigger or worsen dandruff. Ways of managing stress can be:
- Work on a positive attitude.
- Improve your time management.
- Set and accept limits in your life.
4. Improving your diet may help you control your dandruff. In addition to eating balanced meals, you might want to incorporate the following into your diet as well:
- Zinc — This can come from oysters, red meat, poultry, or from other sources such as supplements.
- Omega-3 fatty acids — This can come from cold water fish such as salmon and halibut. Walnuts are also a good source.
- B vitamins — Try eggs, fish, milk, or whole grain cereals.
- Water — Since dry skin can be a cause of dandruff, it may help you to consume adequate amounts liquid by drinking water and eating more fruits. It is commonly recommend to consume eight 8-ounce glasses, which equals about 2 liters, or half a gallon of water per day for an average adult.
5. Lessen the use of hair care products. Hair styling products can cause dandruff. They can build up on your scalp and flake off. They can also lead to oiliness or sensitivity in your scalp. This can lead to the itching and flaking of dandruff.
Dandruff and Hair Loss
Dandruff does not cause the natural thinning of hair. If you experience hair thinning, that is related to the hair itself, or the follicles beneath the skin. Dandruff is related to the scalp. That being said, however, if dandruff is left untreated, it can lead to temporary hair loss as a result of all of the itching and inflammation. In most cases the hair will grow back.
Though dandruff is not a result of hair thinning, certain treatments for thinning hair can contribute to dandruff on your scalp. Hair loss medications such as minoxidil can dry your scalp because they contain alcohol. After you use it for a while, you may develop dandruff. This may be an acceptable trade: thicker hair with a little dandruff. You be the judge. Finasteride is another medication used for hair loss, though this medication is not known to cause dandruff.
Shampooing your hair regularly is important even in the case of hair loss. Sometimes when we notice excessive hair loss while shampooing, we may stop washing it as often. The truth is that the amount of times you wash your hair doesn’t really affect hair loss. If you have dandruff, you should consider washing your hair every day or evey other day with medicated shampoos to control flaking.
Look Better, Feel Better
Dandruff is not generally considered a serious medical condition, however it can be a condition that causes embarrassment. It also can damage your self esteem. With simple care and prevention you can reduce the chances of having an episode where the dandruff flakes are seen by others, especially those times when first impressions really matter.