Can you see white flakes of skin in your hair, or are they falling onto your shoulders? Nearly everyone in his or her lifetime will be afflicted with the skin condition that causes dandruff. Dandruff, or Pityriasis simplex capillitii, most commonly occurs on the scalp, but it can also appear in the eyebrows, beard, and chest hair of some patients. The condition causes itching and dryness, and is often a source of embarrassment. Unfortunately, there is no cure, but there are a number of treatments available to keep the condition at bay.
What factors lead to dandruff? Seborrheic dermatitis is the condition that is understood to be the main cause of dandruff. Researchers have yet to discover what exactly causes this disease, but I often assure patients that poor hygiene is not related to the development of dandruff. In fact, over-shampooing can strip skin of moisture, causing scalp glands to overproduce a waterproofing lubricant called sebum. In excess, this natural lubricant can create an environment that is conducive to the growth of Malassezia, a fungus that exacerbates dandruff. Excessive shampooing will not, therefore, get rid of those tiny flakes. On the other hand, it could make the problem worse. Patients who suffer from certain skin conditions such as psoriasis or eczema are also particularly prone to dry, flaky skin. Stress is another contributing factor of many skin conditions, including dandruff.
So what can you do to treat this unwanted skin condition? For patients that suffer from chronic dandruff, I usually recommend exploring multiple treatment options until each individual finds the right one. For starters, there are many medical shampoos scientifically designed as dandruff treatments. Look for ingredients that work to remove dead skin cells and fight the growth of fungi, such as zinc, salicylic acid, selenium, and ketoconazole. If you are looking for a more natural approach, one solution is tea tree oil. A small amount of this oil applied to scaly parts of the scalp will help soothe the area and restore moisture. Aloe vera is also a popular remedy for relieving itching and flaking. Lastly, changing a diet to include more zinc and B vitamins has proven to be one of the more effective dandruff treatment options.
While dandruff causes many patients to feel self-conscious about their appearance, there is no reason to worry. I always advise patients suffering from skin conditions to try reducing stress, changing their diet, or to take advantage of the many medications and treatments available. With some experimentation, most people can discover their own effective dandruff treatment.
Thanks to linspiration01 on flickr for the image used in this post https://flic.kr/p/fgL6iC.