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What Is Dandruff?
The simplest explanation of dandruff is that pieces of dry scalp skin fall off. These get stuck in your hair and land on your shoulders. It’s a completely natural process and all part of the skin cycle, but when it shows up and makes your life miserable dandruff treatments can really help.
Excessive dandruff is not a medical problem but a cosmetic issue, but like many cosmetic issues such as hair loss and skin wrinkles it can make you unhappy and in some cases affect your mental well-being.
What Causes Dandruff?
The white flakes that fall from your head can be caused by a variety of issues. The first is a dry scalp.
A dry scalp caused by hormones, heat styling or the sun, for example, will flake, that damaged skin will peel off and it needs to land somewhere! A dry scalp can cause dandruff and it won’t shift until you address the dryness. Cold weather, in particular, can worsen mild dandruff as well as wind and central heating drying out your scalp.
Another reason for dandruff is a fungus called Malassezia globosa. This tiny fungus needs oil to multiply so it feeds on the oil produced by your scalp. Many people have this but it’s not a problem until the fungus grows out of control and causes dandruff. The combination of sebum and fast growth makes skin cells renew too quickly and this leads to dandruff flake fall.
Skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema can also cause dandruff. Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that creates a pattern of quickly shedding skin cells. It can affect the whole body but the scalp, particularly over the ears and around the bottom hairline, is usually worst affected. There is also a type of eczema known as seborrhoeic dermatitis that causes scalp flakes, but dandruff produced by eczema is usually yellow. Both psoriasis and eczema cause inflammation and soreness on the scalp so it’s best to get your scalp checked by a doctor if you suspect a skin condition as some treatments for dandruff may irritate sore and inflamed skin.
You may have developed dandruff as a result of contact dermatitis. This is an allergic reaction to hair products and common culprits are perfumed sprays, gels and mousse. If you have contact dermatitis try a dandruff shampoo to calm your skin down and throw the offending product away. Look for natural ingredients in your hair products and try to keep products from touching your scalp in future.
Stress can also cause dandruff. It may seem odd, but stress, anxiety and depression cause a chain of physical reactions in the body. They can lead us to more colds by suppressing the immune system, raise the heart rate and cause skin breakouts. Stress can exacerbate mild dandruff so that a small amount of unnoticeable dandruff suddenly turns into something obvious.
How To Get Rid Of Dandruff
Unsightly dandruff is easily treated with the right type of anti dandruff shampoo, so don’t suffer falling flakes that dent your self confidence, instead of fight back with a dandruff shampoo.
The best anti dandruff shampoo will moisturise your scalp and deal with the Malassezia fungus that feeds on sebum with anti-fungal ingredients. Specialist anti dandruff shampoo dries up sebum leaving the fungus nothing to feed on, reducing its number and preventing more from forming.
The best dandruff shampoos will target your scalp but moisturise your tresses too. This is important as dry, brittle hair can result from harsh dandruff shampoos. It’s worth looking into top quality anti dandruff shampoos if your dandruff is out of control. If you use an anti dandruff shampoo three or four times a week your scalp should quickly respond and stop shedding flakes.
How To Stop Dandruff
If you’re using an anti dandruff shampoo then you’re on the right track, but you can help prevent dandruff with an oil masque too as dry itchy scalps need moisture. Take coconut oil or olive oil, warm it slightly and then rub it into your scalp. It’s sensible to patch test first but if you have no reaction go ahead and apply the oil mixture. Leave the oil on for twenty minutes before thoroughly rinsing it out. A dry scalp will soak up the oil and become smooth and supple helping to minimise dandruff flake fall.
How To Remove Dandruff
If your hair is full of dandruff you can remove it by carefully combing your hair from root to tip. Wash your hair first with an anti dandruff shampoo and apply an oil then gently comb from your scalp to the ends of hair with a fine tooth comb, but make sure it doesn’t dig into your scalp. If you are away from home or not able to wash your hair, maybe you’re at work, for example, use a dry shampoo on your roots to grip the dandruff and comb it out gently.
If you have long hair pull it back into a ponytail or bun to cover your scalp and trap dandruff before it can fall. If you have short hair you can rub a tiny amount of oil or hair smoothing serum into your scalp to temporarily moisturise your dry flaky skin. When you get home, use a dandruff shampoo and deep condition your hair.
How To Treat Dandruff
You should treat dandruff gently! Roughing up your head by scratching and yanking a comb through your scalp in frustration is understandable because dandruff can be itchy and intolerable but this will only loosen more flakes that show up on your clothes. Your best bet is a dandruff shampoo that literally tackles the root of the problem.
How To Prevent Dandruff
Don’t scratch! Distract yourself so your hands stay away from your scalp.
Keep stressful situations to a minimum to reduce dandruff breakouts. If you can practice mindfulness, use essential oils or take up a hobby to reduce your stress, your body and scalp will follow suit and reduce irritation.
What we eat and drink also has a direct effect on our appearance. Cut out sugar, fat and salt from your diet and introduce leafier green veg, fruit, low fat meats, cereals, beans and nuts. This will boost your nutrient intake and improve the condition of your skin. It’s also a good idea to cut down on alcohol and drink more water to ensure your skin is healthy and hydrated.
If you have dandruff it can really dent your confidence and be difficult to shift. A dandruff shampoo or a dandruff treatment will get any outbreak of fungus under control, but a long term approach to your scalp health is important too. Eat well, drink more water and don’t apply irritating products to your scalp.