Dandruff is a very unpleasant hair problem which affects almost half of the world’s population, regardless of gender, age or race. It is characterised by persistent and excessive scaling of the. Dead cells combined with sebum take the form of dry white flakes. Most often, dandruff occurs on the scalp.
Do not confuse dandruff with dry scalp. Skin cells constantly die and fall off, that is why it is normal if the skin on your scalp flakes off a little. This process occurs throughout your life. There are about 487,000 cells on 1cm² of the skin, and these cells are regularly replaced.
Causes of dandruff
Dandruff usually occurs as a consequence of one of the three factors or their combinations:
- Disorder of the sebaceous glands (seborrhea)
Seborrhea is a condition that causes the sebaceous glands to produce excessive amounts of sebum, giving the skin an unhealthy look. It may be caused by chronic metabolic disorders, hormonal imbalance, low immunity, unhealthy diet or poor skin care hygiene.
Seborrhea can be oily or dry. Two forms of oily seborrhea are distinguished: liquid and concrete.
The symptoms of liquid oily seborrhea include enlarged pores, oily shine, and greasy hair that often sticks together, creating greasy strands. The scalp becomes covered with yellowish scales, pustules often occur.
Oily concrete seborrhea is manifested by decreased skin elasticity and appearance of comedones. The hair on the head becomes hard and rough.
- Fungal infection of the skin
With reduced sebum production, hair and scalp become covered with scales. This process is called dry seborrhea or dandruff. This phenomenon is directly linked to the fungi called Pityrosporum Ovale, or Malassezia Furfur.
If the immune system is strong, no fungal manifestations are observed. However, physical or mental imbalances, as well as prolonged eating disorders can activate fungus and accelerate the growth of epidermal cells. The scalp’s life cycle takes 5 to 7 days instead of the normal 30.
As a result, an excessive amount of flakes occurs. If it is combined with scalp irritation, itching and patches of redness, it means you have seborrheic dermatitis. The hair quality decreases: it becomes thin, dry fragile.
- The individual feature of the body
A disorder of the sebaceous glands can be caused by genetic skin traits, abnormal skin structure, a hereditary predisposition or seasonal skin changes. Dandruff may occur together with other conditions:
- psoriasis and eczema;
- Parkinson’s disease and some other neurological diseases;
- a heart attack at any age;
- weakened immune system and HIV;
- deficiency of zinc, vitamins and some fats;
- mental strain and frequent stress.
Based on the above, it can be concluded that most of the processes and conditions that lead to dandruff have a cause that can be eliminated.
Treatments for dandruff
Fortunately, the process of dandruff formation can be controlled. In mild cases, it is usually sufficient to choose a good anti-dandruff shampoo and eliminate the source of stress.
As a rule, if you have a mild form of dandruff, it is not necessary to go to the doctor. However, if the condition of your scalp deteriorates or your anti-dandruff shampoo does not work, you should seek help from a specialist. Your doctor can confirm the diagnosis of seborrheic dermatitis or to identify another condition, and choose a treatment strategy.
Most anti-dandruff products, including anti-fungal shampoos, contain one of the following active ingredients:
- Zinc pyrithione: an antibacterial agent and fungicide.
- Selenium sulfide: an antiseptic and disinfectant.
- Sulfur: an antibacterial.
- Ketoconazole: an antifungal drug.
- Salicylic acid has a pronounced anti-inflammatory action.
- Tea tree oil has healing, antifungal and antiseptic properties.
Good anti-dandruff shampoos often contain several of the components listed above.
Besides shampoos, you can use creams and ointments to combat seborrhea:
- Hydrocortisone cream reduces inflammation. Hydrocortisone cream 0.5% or 1% is available over the counter. Use it twice a day for 4-5 days to see the result. The active substance is also available in the form of scalp lotion. Apply it on wet hair once a day after shampooing. It is suitable for use in combination with therapeutic shampoos.
- Antifungal creams. These products are usually designed to destroy yeast fungus living on the human skin. Clotrimazole cream 1% and miconazole cream 2% are available without a prescription. Apply it once or twice a day.
How to get rid of dandruff
All anti-dandruff medications (therapeutic shampoos, creams and ointments) should be used during active phases of seborrhea. Once the symptoms subside, reduce the amount of medications you are using, and subsequently replace them with normal shampoos. If dandruff returns, start using anti-dandruff creams and shampoos again.
When the problem returns, the therapeutic effect of the products you used before may be reduced and your usual medications may not be that effective. This can be explained by the fact that pathogenic organisms can develop immunity to active ingredients of your anti-dandruff products. In this case, it is reasonable to use shampoos and/or creams with other active ingredients.
Basic rules for using therapeutic shampoos. Apply the shampoo to wet hair and leave on the scalp for about five minutes. If you wash off the shampoo too quickly, the active ingredient will not work because of insufficient time of contact with the scalp.
Basic rules for using anti-dandruff creams, masks and lotions. These are additional products to be used in combination with medicinal shampoos. After shampooing, apply the product to the scalp and leave for 20-30 minutes.
In addition, you should stick to a fairly simple diet during the period of treatment. Make sure your food is rich in vitamins and fiber. Include low-fat dairy products in your diet. Limit the consumption of fatty, sugary and smoked foods. It is recommended to drink at least two liters of pure water every day.
Folk remedies for dandruff
Treating dandruff with homemade remedies can be no less effective than using expensive dandruff treatments from the pharmacy.
Egg mask for dandruff. Beat two eggs and mix with a small amount of warm water. Apply on the scalp and leave for ten minutes, then rinse off. The mask is used to prevent dandruff.
Orange juice and aloe mask. Mix 2 tsp. each of aloe juice and orange juice and add one egg yolk. Mix all ingredients into a uniform mass and apply on the scalp. Leave for 30-40 minutes and rinse well with warm water. It is recommended to rinse your hair with horsetail decoction after using the mask (the herb can be obtained from the pharmacies).
Homemade hair lotion with calendula. Take 1 tbsp. of calendula flowers, add 2 glasses of hot water (at 80°C), allow to brew for 30 minutes. Wash your hair, then rub the infusion into the scalp. Put on a plastic shower cap (a plastic bag will do). Remove the cap after 30 minutes. There is no need to rinse the hair. Repeat 2-3 times a week.
Chamomile hair rinse. Add 2 tbsp. of chamomile flowers to 1 liter of water. Boil for five minutes. Cool down the infusion and rub into your scalp.
An alternative recipe for chamomile hair rinse. Prepare an infusion using 1 part of chamomile flowers and 9 parts of water. Use it to wash your hair 2 or 3 times a week, for 10-15 times in total. The course can be repeated every 2 to 3 weeks.
Thyme hair rinse. Add 4 tbsp. of dry thyme to 500 ml of water. Boil for 10 minutes. Cool and strain the infusion. Apply a generous amount to wet hair, fully soaking your hair in it. Do not rinse. You can use it after each shampooing.
Antifungal hair rinse. Dissolve 1 tbsp. of sea salt in 1/2 l of warm water. Apply the solution to clean, wet hair and rinse well after 5 minutes. Rinse your hair with a mix of 1 tsp. of lemon juice and 1/2 l of water.
Hair oil. Take 1 tbsp. of castor or burdock oil and mix with 10 tbsp. of alcohol-based calendula extract (you can buy it in the pharmacy). Rub into the scalp 2 times a day.
Consult a specialist before using any anti-dandruff product.