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Dandruff: Causes and Treatment

Dr. Pradeep Aggarwal    01-11-2016 Consult

Dandruff is a common chronic scalp condition marked by flaking of the skin on your scalp. Dandruff isn't contagious or serious. But it can be embarrassing and sometimes difficult to treat.

The good news is that dandruff usually can be controlled. Mild cases of dandruff may need nothing more than daily shampooing with a gentle cleanser. More-stubborn cases of dandruff often respond to medicated shampoos.

Causes

Dandruff can have several causes, including:

  1. Irritated, oily skin (seborrheic dermatitis): This condition, one of the most frequent causes of dandruff, is marked by red, greasy skin covered with flaky white or yellow scales. Seborrheic dermatitis may affect your scalp and other areas rich in oil glands, such as your eyebrows, the sides of your nose and the backs of your ears, your breastbone (sternum), your groin area, and sometimes your armpits.
  2. Not shampooing often enough: If you don't regularly wash your hair, oils and skin cells from your scalp can build up, causing dandruff.
  3. A yeast like fungus (malassezia): Malassezia lives on the scalps of most adults. But, for some, it irritates the scalp and can cause more skin cells to grow. The extra skin cells die and fall off, making them appear white and flaky in your hair or on your clothes. Why malassezia irritates some scalps isn't known.
  4. Dry skin: Flakes from dry skin are generally smaller and less oily than those from other causes of dandruff. And, redness or inflammation is unlikely. You'll probably have dry skin on other parts of the body, such as your legs and arms, too.
  5. Sensitivity to hair care products (contact dermatitis): Sometimes sensitivities to certain ingredients in hair care products or hair dyes can cause a red, itchy, scaly scalp.

Treatment: Home Remedies

  1. Do not oil hair and keep it on for long:
    It's a pure myth that oiling is good for hair with dandruff, in fact applying oil will lead to more dandruff as oil is like food for Malazzesia which leads to dandruff. Applying oil to a dry, itchy scalp may sound like heaven but may only exacerbate your dandruff condition, especially when you let it sit on your scalp for longer periods of time.
  2. Vinegar:
    Vinegar helps in treating itchy, dry skin and also helps to kill dandruff-causing fungus and bacteria. The acidic content of vinegar is supremely beneficial to drastically reduce flaking. 
    TIP: Apply an equal quantity mixture of white vinegar with water on the scalp skin about half an hour before a head wash.
  3. Aspirin:
    Aspirin contains the same active ingredient (salicylic acid) as many medicated dandruff shampoos. Keep flaking in check by crushing two aspirins to a fine powder and adding it to the normal amount of shampoo you use each time you wash your hair. Leave the mixture on your hair for 1-2 minutes, then rinse well and wash again with plain shampoo.
  4. Mouthwash:
    To treat a bad case of dandruff, wash your hair with your regular shampoo, then rinse with an alcohol-based mouthwash. Follow with your regular conditioner. Mouthwash's anti-fungal properties help prevent dandruff-causing yeast from growing.
  5. Salt:
    The abrasiveness of ordinary table salt works great for scrubbing out dandruff flakes before you shampoo. Grab a saltshaker and shake some salt onto your dry scalp. Then work it through your hair, giving your scalp a massage. You'll find you've worked out the dry, flaky skin and are ready for a shampoo.

 

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