Dandruff, what is it? How do we get rid of it?

Generally, dandruff is annoying to everyone, but it is exceptionally annoying for people with dark hair or those who like to wear dark clothes. These annoying white crusts come to ruin our style, and some may think that personal hygiene plays a role in its appearance, but on the contrary, exaggeration in cleaning hair with shampoo may sometimes cause the appearance of dandruff, but what is the actual reason behind the appearance of dandruff?, and what are the most prominent factors that increase its appearance, and can it be eliminated? In this article we will discuss all of that and more.


Does dandruff appear as a symptom of a scalp condition?

Yes! there’s a close link between the appearance of dandruff and some skin conditions that affect the scalp, the most important of which is Seborrheic dermatitis. People with this condition have oily and irritated skin accompanied by the appearance of dandruff. However, we note that this condition’s effect is limited to the scalp, as it may appear in various areas of the body such as the chest, behind the ears and eyebrows. Certain group of people are more vulnerable to Seborrheic dermatitis than others these people are the ones who suffer from obesity, a weak immune system, or other skin conditions such as scalp psoriasis, and rosacea.




In addition to this condition of dandruff, there are other common causes as it seems to correlate with cases of eczema and contact dermatitis.

In fact, science is still unable to determine the exact cause of dandruff in people who do not suffer from dermatological conditions, however, most cases of dandruff are related to fungal infection; The Malassezia fungi live on the sebum of the scalp that is naturally secreted from the hair follicles, and the appearance of dandruff does not cause the appearance of dandruff except in cases of overreaction of the immune system to the presence of Malassezia.

Why does this overreaction occur? Still unclear, but it would irritate the skin and cause the formation of more skin cells in it, and thus the appearance of dandruff.



Are there factors that increase the chance of getting dandruff?


In the previous paragraph, we mentioned the most prominent pathological conditions that are accompanied by the appearance of dandruff, but are there other factors that will increase the chance of dandruff forming?


Daily habits can affect the state of dandruff, such as not using an adequate amount of shampoo while cleaning hair or using too much, as dryness and build up may cause dandruff-like flakes. It also seems more common in people with dry skin, or irritated oily skin more than other types.


Using unsafe and irritating hair products affect the state of scalp the most, in addition to using products that are too oily, as Malassezia feeds on oil. The best thing is to find the correct ratio of cleaning to hydrating.


It also may be strange to know that age plays a role in the emergence of dandruff, most often dandruff appears from the beginning of puberty, and extends to middle age, but this does not mean that elderly can’t develop Dandruff, its appearance is more common in younger people, in addition to one's age, scientists believe that male hormones have a role in the emergence of dandruff in men more than women, and these factors cannot be controlled.


Tips to reduce dandruff

The first thing that comes to mind when talking about dandruff is how to get rid of it, and we always try to find ways that are available at home, believing that they are safe, but these home remedies may worsen the case of dandruff, here will mention some safe tips that aid in managing  dandruff:

  • Daily washing of greasy hair with shampoo, and massaging the scalp to break up and relax the dandruff, making it easier to remove.
  • Reduce the use of hair styling products.
  • Exposing the scalp to sunlight for short periods, while using sunscreen on the face to protect it from sunburn.
  • Following a healthy balanced that is rich in zinc and vitamin B complex.
  • Control anxiety and stress as much as possible.



Medical treatments for dandruff


These include the use of medicated shampoos that contain active ingredients, either kill the Malassezia fungi that cause dandruff, or removes dandruff and dead skin by exfoliation, and we usually resort to these when the dandruff is severe and regular shampoos fail to get rid of it, these include:


  • Pyrithione zinc:

    It is an anti-fungal substance that helps to get rid of the fungi that cause dandruff. It has a gentle effect on the skin and can be used once daily.
  • Coal tar 

    unlike the previous compound, this compound performs its function by reducing the growth and exfoliation of scalp skin cells, but unfortunately it may affect the color of light or gray hair, and it should be noted that this substance may be carcinogenic when used in very high doses, and therefore it is preferable to consult a doctor first.
  • Salicylic acid

     This acid peels and exfoliate the scalp, but it may cause the area on which it is applied to dry out.
  • Ketoconazole

     It is an antifungal that kills the fungi that causes dandruff.
  • Selenium sulfide

     This compound has a dual activity, the first being fungi reduction and the second is to prevent the death of more scalp skin cells, and it also contributes to reducing the production of oils by the scalp glands.


As for the pathological conditions that cause dandruff, it is up to the specialist to treat the condition within its protocols.



- “Dandruff.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 11 Sept. 2019, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dandruff/symptoms-causes/syc-20353850.

- “How to Get Rid of Milia: Treatment, Prevention, and Causes.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 26 Jan. 2020, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320953.

- “How to Treat Dandruff.” American Academy of Dermatology, www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/hair-scalp-care/scalp/treat-dandruff.



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