Dandruff is a common skin problem that affects about half of the world’s adult population.
It is the name given to an overpopulation of fungi, resulting in increased renewal of cell reproduction and the appearance of white or gray flakes on the scalp. However, a large production of flakes is not necessarily related to dandruff. Scalp psoriasis and eczema, for example, can also result in flaking of the scalp.
Although they are generally harmless, dandruff and the resulting flakes can be tough and difficult to get rid of. To make matters worse, the constant itching that accompanies this problem can be a major inconvenience for people whose hair is already thinning.
A healthy scalp that is clean and free of debris supports healthy hair growth. Any factor that disrupts the delicate scalp microbiome (the bacterial ecosystem that helps to keep the scalp’s environment balanced) can result in symptoms such as the characteristic flakes of dandruff.
Because dandruff causes itching and flaking of the scalp, patients end up scratching their heads frequently, which in turn can injure the hair follicles and result in hair loss. In case of dandruff, the strands often do not grow and there is a high probability of accelerated hair thinning. This means that the sooner treatment is started, the better.
There are several factors that can cause dandruff:
Malassezia globosa, a fungus found in glands on the scalp, feeds on natural oils called sebum, which keep the scalp and hair moisturized.
Our skin is constantly producing new cells and eliminating old ones to keep the scalp environment healthy. However, this natural cell renewal is sometimes impaired when malassezia grows too fast. When this happens, the skin cells on the scalp clump together and appear as white flakes.
Seborrheic dermatitis is a common skin problem that involves an overgrowth of yeast. This can be caused by stress, hormones, excess oil on the scalp, or immune system disorders, although the exact cause of the problem is still unknown.
Seborrheic dermatitis not only affects the scalp, but also the face, the area behind the ear and the upper chest. When seborrheic dermatitis appears, the skin can become red and oily.
Sensitivity to hair products;
Redness and itching of the scalp can be caused by sensitivity to certain hair care products such as dyes, sprays, gels, and mousses.
Also, not using shampoo or not rinsing hair products thoroughly can sometimes cause itchy scalp and flakes of dandruff.
In the case of psoriasis, this means that you have an increased production of skin cells, resulting in reddish, scaly, rough patches of skin on your elbows, knees, scalp, and lower back. A doctor can often diagnose psoriasis based on the appearance of the skin.
Scalp ringworm (also known as “mycosis of the scalp”) is a fungal infection that affects the scalp area, resulting in circular marks on the skin and frequent itching. It is easily transmitted by direct contact with people or animals and by combs and brushes. It is therefore advisable to see a doctor if symptoms of mycosis on the scalp are present.
How to eliminate dandruff:
The best shampoos for treating and eliminating dandruff are those with zinc pyrithione, salicylic acid, selenium sulfide or topical corticosteroids.
Zinc pyrithione is an antimicrobial (something that kills or stops the growth of microorganisms) present in many shampoos and effective against many species of fungi, bacteria, and malassezia yeast.
Salicylic acid is an anti-inflammatory active ingredient that acts similarly to an exfoliant, assisting in the removal of dry, flaky skin. It can be found in shampoos, creams, and ointments.
Another antifungal agent used to treat dandruff and scalp dandruff is selenium sulfide. Found in many shampoos, selenium
selenium sulfide is a complex molecule that combats the yeasts and fungi commonly associated with an unhealthy scalp environment.
Topical corticosteroids work to reduce inflammation and irritation of the skin. They are present in creams, lotions, gels, mousses, and ointments and are widely used to treat disorders such as eczema, psoriasis, and seborrheic dermatitis.
How to avoid dandruff;
– Wash your hair regularly. Although dandruff is not caused by poor hygiene, failing to wash your hair can often result in flakes and oil buildup. Washing your hair also minimizes the appearance of flakes.
– Avoid using products that contain harsh chemicals, such as hydrogen peroxide, as this can dry out the scalp.
– Avoid using oily products, as these can cause excess oiliness on the scalp.
– Avoid excessive hot and dry air, as this can dry out the scalp. In winter, try not to wear hats too often, as they can smother the scalp, aggravating the development of dandruff-causing microbes.
– Try not to stress yourself, as this can sometimes contribute to the appearance of dandruff. Our article on stress-related dandruff provides more information on why stress can have a negative impact on the scalp.
When to Consult a Physician;
An over-the-counter treatment, such as the Nioxin Scalp Renewal System, is generally effective in combating dandruff. However, if symptoms persist, it is advisable to consult a doctor so that he or she can rule out diseases such as eczema and psoriasis. Consult your doctor:
– If you have been using anti-dandruff shampoos for at least one month, but are still experiencing symptoms of dandruff.
– If your scalp is excessively itchy, red, or swollen.
– If you have a weak immune system as a result of chemotherapy, HIV or treatments/medications that inhibit the immune system.