Do you scratch your head quite often because you have a dry itchy flaky scalp? Do you avoid wearing dark colored clothing because almost always white flakes fall from your hair, settle on your shoulders and are quite visible to everyone? If you are wondering what causes itchy flaky scalp and that snow fall like shower of white flakes from your hair, it is Dandruff that is causing you embarrassment.
What is dandruff?
Dandruff is a chronic, though harmless, condition of the scalp. As we know, one of the foremost conditions for healthy hair is having a healthy scalp. Hence, dandruff too is not good for the health of hair. Those dust like white particles are dead skin cells which are formed when the scalp becomes too dry or greasy.
Dandruff is very much curable and you can get rid of it and its accompanying embarrassment by proper treatment. However, if left untreated for long, it can become stubborn and treatment that much more difficult and may even become a cause for hair fall.
Symptoms of dandruff
Symptoms of dandruff are fairly easy to spot. Oily, white dust-like flakes, which are the dead skin cells from your scalp, visibly dot your hair and shoulders. This is often accompanied by itchy to very itchy scalp. This condition aggravates in dry weather and that is the reason that winters increase the occurrence of dandruff.
Types of dandruff
Talk about dandruff to anyone, most will answer that dandruff is because the scalp is too dry. However, that is not the only truth. One of the causes for dandruff could actually be the opposite of dry scalp – too oily scalp can also cause dandruff.
Before treating dandruff, it is essential to know what type of dandruff is affecting you, i.e., what is the cause of dandruff that is affecting you. Broadly, dandruff could be either of the following types:
Dry Skin Dandruff: The most common type of dandruff, it often occurs during the winter season when the scalp is lacking in moisture. This condition could be a result of infrequent cleaning and shampooing or using warm water for washing hair. In this condition, small round flakes of dandruff form on your scalp and fall on your shoulders and back when you scratch your head. Drinking plenty of water, eating moisture rich food and using an anti-dandruff shampoo could improve this condition.
Oily Scalp Dandruff: Excess amount of sebum production by the scalp leads to greasy hair and results in this type of dandruff. Excess sebum leads to greasy hair and dandruff. This type of dandruff can be caused by irregular shampooing which allows dirt and oil build up or even too much shampooing which trigger the sebaceous glands and the scalp starts producing excess sebum. Both these conditions produce itchy dandruff flakes and can trigger hair fall, as well.
Fungal Dandruff: Malessezia, a fungus, is naturally found on our scalp. Excessive oil and dirt often triggers this fungus to multiply and spread to limits way beyond the normal which causes formation of white oily flakes. This type of dandruff is a chronic condition and requires that bit of extra effort to control.
Dandruff from Seborrheic Dermatitis: A chronic inflammation of skin, Seborrheic Dermatitis causes red scaling often accompanied by oozing, secreting sores. This normally affects the sebaceous glands rich areas of the body i.e. scalp, brows, face, back of ears, mid-chest and mid-back. Dandruff is an uninflamed form of Seborrheic Dermatitis.
What are the causes of dandruff?
Apart from the above-mentioned causes – dry skin, oily skin, fungal spread and seborrheic dermatitis – there are a few other, some unexpected, causes which may be responsible for triggering or flaring up existing dandruff conditions. These are:
Stress: excess levels of stress can worsen any skin condition. So if you have a mild condition of dandruff, stress can flare it up and make the condition worse. Ensure that your stress levels are within control by adequate relaxation.
Styling Products: Hair Sprays, creams, styling gels, mousses tend to make your hair oily and lead to harmful product build up leading to formation of dandruff.
Eczema/Psoriasis: Skin infections like Eczema and Psoriasis can affect the scalp along with other parts of body and produce white flakes of dandruff.
Inappropriate Diet: While most experts do not go to the extent of blaming poor diet for causing dandruff, inappropriate diet, especially which is high on trans and saturated fats lead to sebaceous glands to secrete more oils making dandruff conditions worse.
What is the best way to get rid of dandruff?
Dandruff, even if it is a chronic condition, can be controlled with proper treatment. To start with, try non-medicated shampoo. Massage the scalp firmly and rinse with normal temperature water. This should help by reducing oiliness and prevents dandruff formation.
If non-medicated shampoo doesn’t help, try over the counter, anti-dandruff shampoo. However, properly read the instructions on the shampoo container and follow them for best results.
If non-prescription anti-dandruff shampoos also do not work for a couple of weeks or if the condition worsens, seek medical advice from a qualified dermatologist. Use the prescribed medication as per the doctor’s advice only and never without his/her guidance for it may lead to side effects.
Find at home, remedies for dandruff
Apple Cider Vinegar: Apple cider vinegar is an excellent agent to control your dandruff and even hair fall. Mix equal portions of apple cider vinegar and water and keep it aside, after your regular hair wash, apply this mixture to your wet hair, massage it in your scalp with it and leave it for 15-20 min. Rinse it with normal temperature water. The acidity of Apple Cider Vinegar balances the pH of your scalp which acts as a barrier for dandruff’s growth.
Coconut Oil: Before showering, massage 3-5 tablespoons of coconut oil into your scalp and let sit for about an hour. Shampoo normally. You can also look for a shampoo that already contains coconut oil.
Lemon: Like Apple Cider Vinegar, lemon’s acidity, too helps balance the pH of your scalp. Massage firmly 2 tablespoons of lemon juice into your scalp and rinse with water after 15 minutes.
Fenugreek Seeds: fenugreek seeds are good for treating dandruff. Overnight, soak some fenugreek seeds in water and make a thick paste the next day. Apply this paste to your scalp and leave it for an hour. Wash it with a mild shampoo.
Baking Soda: Baking soda acts as a scrub and helps to exfoliate the scalp and remove all the dead skin and flakes. Its anti- fungal properties help in reducing the itching and redness of scalp. Rub baking soda to wet scalp and leave it for 1 to 1.5 minutes. Wash it off with normal temperature water.
Tea Tree Oil: Strong antifungal properties of Tree Tea Oil make it a great treatment to get rig of dandruff. Add a one drop of tea tree oil to one ounce of your regular shampoo and wash as usual. Alternatively, make a mix of 2-3 drops of tea tree oil to a tablespoon of olive or coconut oil. Apply this to your scalp and leave it for 20-30 minutes. Was with water at room temperature.
Aloe Vera: Aloe Vera’s anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties of this wonderful plant are great to treat dandruff. Try to get fresh aloe vera leaf from the plant and apply the transparent pulp to the scalp and leave it for at least 30 minutes. Wash it with anti-dandruff shampoo.
Garlic: Even though the smell of garlic may be a put-off for many people, it has great anti-fungal and medicinal value. Crush a clove or two of garlic and mix it with water and a little honey. Apply it to the scalp and leave it for 5 minutes. Wash it with shampoo.
To wrap this up, while dandruff is a common condition and may become a cause of embarrassment for the person suffering from this condition, it is not difficult to control it
and save any embarrassment of scratching your itchy scalp or wearing colored shirts. While there are numerous over-the-counter and at home remedies for dandruff, even medical help is easily available should your dandruff act stubborn and does not want to leave you.
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