Dandruff is one of the most common cosmetic problems we face in our daily lives. Ranging from mild to moderate to severe, dandruff is very common and affects both women and men. This is quite a serious problem if we look at it from an aesthetic point of view since white scales will be constantly running down our backs. This prevents us from wearing dark clothes, or the simple fact of gathering a ponytail that involves separating our hair too much, in addition to the constant itching that will make us think of the worst, such as lice.
Dandruff can arise at any time and all hair and scalp types are susceptible. It appears when bacteria and fungi grow on the scalp, causing annoying itching and the formation of dry skin flakes on the hair, yet there are still many people who consider dandruff a new discovery in themselves and find it frightening, so what exactly is dandruff? We will answer it now.
Dandruff, also known as pityriasis, is the desquamation of the dermis of the scalp. It appears when there is a shortening of the cell renewal process due to the existence of dead skin on the head: when there is an excess of dead cells, pityriasis occurs. Dandruff produces an aesthetically annoying situation for the sufferer.
Dandruff begins to develop at puberty and worsens, reaching its maximum expression, around the age of 20. The incidence of this problem decreases in people, as they get older, the reason being that its appearance is linked to hormonal activity.
However, the problem of dandruff is not a situation to die, on the contrary, it can be controlled by following a series of routines and hair care products, but also with a series of home remedies that, although they take longer to show results, in the end, treat the problem effectively, so do not lose heart! If you have this problem here, you will surely find options to solve it.
Types of dandruff
There are two types of pityriasis or known cases, based on these are the most common:
Dry dandruff or pityriasis simplex: whitish-colored, fine, dry flakes are shown. When the person with dandruff scratches his or her head, the flakes break away from the skin and spread to the rest of the scalp.
- Dandruff or pityriasis greasy: this is located in the areas where there is more sebum, for example, on the forehead or nape of the neck. Pityriasis is larger, with a yellowish color due to the grease, and plaques may form. This type causes reddening of the skin in those affected.
Even knowing this, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between them, however dry dandruff can be distinguished from oily dandruff by its appearance, as this can give an indication of the type of condition that causes it.
- Moderate (dry) dandruff: The flakes are fine, dry, gray, or whitish, as already mentioned, and do not stick to the scalp, but fall to the shoulders, and are quite evident when combing or stroking the hair.
Thick, greasy, yellowish dandruff, on the other hand, is attached to the scalp and is often accompanied by itching since it does not fall off. Dry, whitish plaque-like scales, accompanied by underlying redness, are characteristic of psoriasis.
In case of doubt and in the presence of severe dandruff, a consultation with a dermatologist is necessary for an expert opinion
The etiology of pityriasis can be very varied, although the exact cause is unknown, even so, several possibilities are considered. The most common cause is the fungus Pytirosporum ovale, which occurs naturally on the skin. When dandruff develops, it disrupts the natural microorganisms in the dermis, causing scalp irritation.
Recent studies have implicated a fungus, called Malassezia globose, which inhabits the scalp.
Research has revealed that the fungus, which feeds on sebum, causes dandruff by breaking down sebum and creating a compound called oleic acid.
This substance penetrates the top layer of skin and triggers a rapid shedding of epidermal cells, causing – in susceptible individuals – dandruff.
Sometimes it can be associated with other skin problems of the scalp, such as seborrhea or psoriasis (as mentioned above). It can appear as a manifestation of seborrheic dermatitis, which is a chronic inflammation of the skin that produces redness and scaling in the affected area, so it is a triggering factor that lies in the dermatological area. Other causes may be:
Following a diet not very rich in natural foods, using chemical products that are too aggressive for the hair, environmental factors, such as long stays in places with low humidity or radical changes in the climate such as winter and summer; apart from that, dandruff can even be caused by psychological disorders, ranging from stress or personal anguish to anxiety.
On the other hand, the internal factors that can cause this problem are mainly hormonal imbalances, which is why it appears more commonly in adolescents, who are exposed to constant stress, anxiety, and nervous tension, which makes them prone to produce dandruff.
Heavy sweating or excess oil in the hair can also cause dandruff; bad hair washing is also an influential factor. Incorrect brushing, if done roughly, can become the origin of this problem. If the use of inappropriate products that damage the pH of the scalp (such as dyes or lacquers) is frequent, the dermis of the hair can be affected, generating dandruff.
Seborrheic dermatitis manifests itself in the hair through intense desquamation, and in some cases together with crusty lesions, this pathology can also generate pityriasis. This is associated with oily dandruff with inflammation and itching.
The most effective remedy to eliminate flaking is the use of products that eliminate or prevent the appearance of fungus. They also recommend treatments that regulate the detachment and flaccidity of the skin such as keratoregulators, combined with mild shampoos that take care of the scalp and are not aggressive with the pH of the skin. It is also advisable to use products that relieve the itching of the dermis.
Other methods can help to solve dandruff. Anti-inflammatory actives, for example, can reduce swelling and redness of the dermis of the head. Oat extract, aloe, calendula, or vitamin E reduce inflammation, as less flaking occurs.
In the case of oily dandruff, products that control sebum can be beneficial. Brewer’s yeast or plant extracts of rosemary, flax, or pumpkin are examples that regulate oil naturally.
If dandruff is not treated properly, it can lead to major complications. The itching of the skin and its redness can lead the person to scratch the scalp causing scabbing. Dry dandruff can evolve into pityriasis greasy, with the associated problems. In addition, Ferrer assures that “in some cases, it can cause alopecia”.
It is also necessary to maintain a strict hygiene regimen:
- Wash 2 to 3 times a week the hair and scalp with a mild shampoo containing:
- Fungicidal active ingredients that combat the proliferation of Malassezia furfur (dandruff fungus).
- Active ingredients that eliminate dandruff and regulate cell proliferation.
- Compounds capable of soothing possible itching.
- Apply the product with a gentle massage in circular movements.
- Rinse your hair carefully
- Dry your hair carefully. If you use a hairdryer, take into account that you should not use very hot air to avoid irritating your scalp, you may worsen your situation.
- Avoid scratching to avoid aggravating the condition of your scalp. An adapted treatment shampoo generally soothes scalp itching and irritation.
As a rule, complying with this process greatly helps to reduce its impact on the scalp.
If frequent washing with a mild shampoo is not effective, specific shampoos can be used to combat dandruff, whose formulations include different active ingredients that attempt to correct the various causes of dandruff.
For example, these products may contain antifungals that inhibit the proliferation of microorganisms, especially Malassezia furfur, substances that regulate the renewal cycle of the scalp’s skin cells (cytostatics), active ingredients that normalize the sebaceous glands oil production (anti-seborrheic), others that eliminate accumulations of flakes (keratolytic) or substances that relieve itching and redness (antipruritics).
When choosing an anti-dandruff shampoo, the pharmacist can recommend the most suitable one for each case and explain the instructions for use, as they change for each type of shampoo and must be followed scrupulously. Initially, it should be used one to three times a week and, once it has taken effect, this frequency should be reduced. Once a week maybe more than enough.
If, however, the problem does not improve after four to six weeks, try another anti-dandruff shampoo containing a different active ingredient. In cases where the treatment is effective but ceases to be effective after some time, another treatment should also be tried. It is also possible to alternate between two types of shampoo.
Finally, experts recommend the complimentary use of a hydroalcoholic anti-dandruff lotion containing a different active ingredient from the shampoo. This lotion is applied after shampooing and its high alcohol content helps the active ingredient to be better absorbed by the scalp, as well as producing a refreshing sensation due to the evaporation of the alcohol.
There is also the newer option of using anti-dandruff hair masks with an exfoliating action, which, in addition to helping to combat this hair problem, condition and nourish the hair.
It is important to pay attention to dandruff and it is recommended to follow an appropriate treatment approved by the doctor or pharmacist.
What are the symptoms?
The main symptoms of dandruff are:
Capillary flakes that come out when scratching our head, this is the main symptom of dandruff and is maintained throughout the recovery process.
Constantly dirty or greasy hair more than normal.
Dermatitis and seborrhea
Finally, in some cases, it presents a reddening of the area and excessive itching that does not allow proceeding with activities.
Can dandruff be prevented?
Sometimes dandruff can be prevented. It is important not to mistreat the hair with aggressive products and to reduce the use of fixing gels, waxes, and hairsprays, among others. It is important to use lukewarm water when washing the hair and to brush it regularly.
It should be noted that stress can also be a major risk factor, almost fundamental, so if you demand too much of yourself or are under too much pressure, chances are that you have experienced this disease at some point in your life. People with anxiety and depression are therefore more prone.
One way to help calm stress is mindful meditation. A 10-minute class to start with is enough to create the daily habit and improve our lifestyle to a calmer one.
Also, maintaining an efficient diet that includes all food groups can help prevent multiple diseases, including dandruff. This from a large intake of Vitamin E and sufficient food with Zinc, such as red meat, eggs, liver. Or in the case of being vegetarian/vegan, we can encourage the intake of tofu, brewer’s yeast, chocolate, whole grains, among other foods.
And finally, avoid excessive chemical products such as gels, hair creams, or very strong products such as dyes or keratins. This can overload the scalp which will cause an increase in sebum production or dry out the hair follicles.
What is the treatment?
The treatment of dandruff varies according to the severity of each case but includes various cosmetic preparations aimed at treating the cause of dandruff and reducing the symptoms of itching and redness of the skin. Usually, shampoos or solutions are prescribed with an antifungal active ingredient, aimed at inhibiting microbial proliferation and combined with anti-seborrheic and antipruritic substances.
Is dandruff contagious?
There are many myths surrounding dandruff. For example that it is contagious, that it causes baldness or that it arises because we do not wash our hair sufficiently.
The BBC website states that none of these beliefs are true. Dandruff can be controlled with a variety of shampoos.
What is true is that it affects more men than women, that the condition improves with age, and that 50% of the population may suffer from it. Experts recommend that when washing your hair, massage your scalp, without scratching it.
Rinse it well, ideally twice.
“The scalp is very sensitive so be careful with hair products that can dry or irritate it,” says Dr. Hicks.
You can also alternate using your usual shampoo with an anti-dandruff shampoo.
“If you see the flakes coming back, don’t be alarmed,” notes the expert.
“This happens often so try a new shampoo.”
Diet is also an important factor in maintaining a healthy scalp, particularly a diet rich in vitamins E, B6, and B12, and in selenium and zinc.
Almost anyone can get dandruff, but certain factors can make you more susceptible:
- Age, for example, Dandruff usually begins in early adulthood and continues into middle age. That does not mean older adults don’t get dandruff. For some people, the problem can be lifelong.
- Being male: This is not an issue of discrimination, but because more men have dandruff, some researchers think that male hormones may play a role in this development.
- Certain diseases: Parkinson’s disease and other diseases that affect the nervous system also seem to increase the risk of dandruff. Therefore, does having HIV or a weakened immune system, in short, existing pathologies are a trigger.
Experiment with homemade hair masks!
If you want to try some masks to prevent and avoid dandruff, we will introduce you to some natural components that you can use, for example:
- Aloe vera: The many benefits of aloe vera for the skin are well known, but what many do not know is that it is also one of the most effective home remedies for dandruff. This plant also has antifungal and antibacterial properties that can help control dandruff and treat seborrhea.
- Vinegar: One of the most effective home remedies for dandruff is white vinegar. This ingredient has 5% acetic acid, which can create an unsuitable ‘environment’ on the scalp for the growth of dandruff-causing yeasts and fungi.
- Olive oil: A dry scalp causes Many times dandruff. Regular use of olive oil will help keep your head oiled and prevent the dreaded dryness and flaking. To make this home remedy for dandruff effective, simply heat some olive oil until it is slightly warm.
- Baking soda: a natural way to wash your hair, use baking soda as if it were shampoo to eliminate the bacteria that cause annoying dandruff. Wet your hair as usual, apply the baking soda, carefully scrub the scalp and rinse with plenty of freshwaters until clean.
- Garlic and honey: Will help nourish your hair. For radiant, nourished hair, crush three cloves of natural garlic and mix them with a tablespoon of pure honey. Apply the mixture directly to the scalp with a brush or spatula and let it take effect for about five minutes, then proceed to rinse.
- Cinnamon: The properties of cinnamon are ideal to fight dandruff, it has natural antibacterial properties that help control dandruff effectively. Mix cinnamon powder with natural coconut oil and massage it into the scalp for about five minutes, allowing it to penetrate the roots before shampooing.
- Avocado: On its own is an anti-dandruff solution, The avocado pulp is used to deeply nourish the scalp, so it is advisable to take one that is ripe, mash it with a fork and that mixture, spread it well at the base of the hair. Let it do its job for 15 to 20 minutes and then wash your hair with shampoo.
- Rely on neem to cure dandruff: Do you know what it is? Neem or Indian lilac is one of the flattering organic elements against dandruff. Take three tablespoons and boil it in water for a couple of minutes. Replace the traditional rinse with this natural preparation, repeating the procedure once a week.
- Aspirin: Unbelievably, aspirin is one of the most effective home remedies for dandruff. Acetylsalicylic acid, one of the essential components of this drug, is also one of the most common ingredients in anti-dandruff shampoos; To say goodbye to dandruff with this home remedy you will have to crush two aspirins and mix them with a little of the shampoo you use daily until you get a paste.
- Salt: Salt is a natural exfoliant, you can use it in small quantities not very often.
- Tea tree oil: it is wonderful, you can buy a shampoo that contains tea tree oil or add four drops to your regular shampoo. This oil helps control itching because it contains essential oils and terpenoids super favorable to combat problems such as dandruff and hair loss.
- Eucalyptus: The properties of eucalyptus can also be used against the hated dandruff. Buy natural eucalyptus oil, and apply it directly to the scalp to prevent dandruff from progressing. Let it take effect for five minutes and then wash your hair as usual.
- Natural yogurt: probiotic yogurt is also a useful home remedy for dandruff. The lactic acid it contains provides hydration and restores balance to the skin. The bacterial cultures in yogurt also help eliminate yeast. Massage the yogurt into the scalp and leave it on for half an hour. Then wash your hair.
- Lemon: The juice can also be used to treat dandruff, as the acid it contains fights fungus. However, if you have a sensitive scalp, you should be careful, as the acid can also irritate it.
- Nettles: Nettles are especially useful against oily dandruff, as their ingredients strengthen the scalp. They have anti-inflammatory effects and the acids they contain fight fungus. In addition, they promote blood circulation to the hair roots, which can even stimulate growth. Boil nettle leaves in water and washes your hair with cooled water.
And that’s it! You have many useful ingredients to organize your own hair mask routine, it is important that you analyze each one correctly and do not choose to use all of them fully, understand your skin and your hair. It should be noted that if none of these treatments work, it is important to visit a specialist. Some of these treatments can trigger severe allergies in our skin, so it is important to first apply a small amount before applying it directly to our scalp. So much for today’s article, remember that we have a lot more information on our home page that could be of great help to you. It’s worth noting that we don’t limit ourselves, so we offer tips for different hair types and cuts, as well as multiple products that could help you achieve your id hair goal.