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What Causes Dandruff, and How to Treat It

Even though it’s a common skin condition — affecting 50% of adults around the world — dandruff is neither harmful nor contagious, even though most people dread the possibility of having it. It’s most commonly associated with an itching sensation on the scalp that results in flaky skin, which can be unpleasant and embarrassing.

While there are many different factors that can lead to the appearance of dandruff, there are some measures you can take at home to remedy it. Below, you will find an overview that covers what dandruff is, what causes it, and how you can finally get rid of it.

❗Important: This article has been created for informative purposes only and does not provide professional advice. If you notice an abnormal amount of flaky skin on your scalp, consult with a healthcare professional.

What dandruff is, and why it appears

Dandruff is a condition where the skin of the scalp flakes off. The skin particles look like white flakes and are especially visible on dark hair. Sometimes, the flaking of the skin can also be accompanied by other symptoms, like itching and redness on the scalp. It is not contagious nor serious, but it may be challenging to treat.

The emergence of dandruff on your scalp is usually connected with incredibly fast cell renewal. Healthy cells have a normal life cycle where they grow, become old, and are eventually replaced by new cells. When a person has dandruff, the life cycle of cells is faster. New cells are born faster, which leads to the flaking of the older cells.

Dandruff can appear due to various reasons.

  • Dandruff can be a case of seborrheic dermatitis and develop due to Malassezia globosa, a yeast fungus. This microorganism is a part of the natural scalp flora and usually causes no trouble. But when sebum production is increased, the fungi that eat it start reproducing very fast. The byproducts that appear cause the scalp cells to clump together, resulting in dandruff.
  • Dandruff can appear due to the use of hair dyes or an abundance of hair-care products.
  • Flaking might happen as a result of a very dry scalp, like, for example, during winter.
  • Oily skin, together with infrequent washing, can lead to a build-up of sebum that results in dandruff.
  • Hormonal problems, a weak immune system, and some skin diseases can also lead to dandruff.

Most of the time, dandruff that appears due to bad care is easy to get rid of, but flaking due to a case of seborrhoea requires a very long treatment.

What can help you get rid of dandruff

  • Regular scalp cleaning with soft shampoo can help get rid of sebum and dead cells and limit the appearance of dandruff.
  • Medicated shampoos can help deal with more complex cases. To achieve the best results, you can use 2-3 different shampoos with different active ingredients. Such shampoos usually contain medication that deals with dandruff.
  • You can get prescribed even more powerful anti-dandruff shampoos by your doctor, if needed.

“My boyfriend’s hair/scalp before and after using soak and float for 2-3 washes” © kysadilla / Reddit

  • You can use tea tree oil to improve the condition of your scalp.
  • Try not to use or limit hair styling and hair-care products. Some products can cause build-up on the scalp and increase sebum production. Choose healthy foods with enough zinc and vitamin B. It can prevent the appearance of dandruff.

Dandruff shampoos available on Amazon

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Nizoral is an effective shampoo brand for treating dandruff, thanks to the presence of ketoconazole as the main active agent. This shampoo is used as a scalp treatment that should only be used twice a week for up to a month. It can be used in conjunction with Nizoral Daily Prevent to keep dandruff at bay.

This shampoo helps against dandruff thanks to the following ingredients:

  • Ketoconazole: This active antifungal agent gets rid of the yeast fungus that is on your scalp, thereby tackling the problem of malassezia overgrowth at the root.
  • Imidurea: It is one of the most widely used antimicrobial agents in cosmetics.
  • Methyl glucose dioleate: This compound can be found in shampoos thanks to the added moisture retention that it provides to the scalp.

Customer review: “I had a really big dermatitis issue on my scalp, I tried everything, from all the high street shampoos to organic products, and this only worked because it really kills off the bacteria from the first shampoo. I used it every 4 days for 2 weeks, then reduced and reduced, and now I hardly need it. I keep a bottle of this on standby for days when my scalp gets irritated, and I stop the itching at the first instance. I would highly recommend.” — Rebecca John

Buy Nizoral anti-dandruff shampoo on Amazon here.

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The ingredients of the Neutrogena T/Gel therapeutic shampoo make it an effective tool against symptoms like an itchy, flaky scalp, as well as redness in the area. However, it being a therapeutic shampoo means that treatment should usually last around 6 weeks, and any prolonged use of it should happen under the supervision of a doctor.

This shampoo could help you with dandruff-related issues because of the following:

  • Solubilised coal tar extract: The main active agent of this shampoo is used to treat dandruff and other related conditions, like psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis.
  • Macrogol lauryl ether: Also known as polidocanol, it’s an anesthetic that relieves the itching that may come with dandruff.
  • Methyl p-hydroxybenzoate: This compound is used as an antimicrobial agent that inhibits yeast growth.

Customer review: “I am so thankful I tried this product! I had very bad dermatitis on my scalp, which was causing sores and my hair to fall out from the follicle due to the stress. I was looking for a product that would remove the flakes without inflaming my scalp further, and it is very effective. It is even more effective when used with other products and preventative measures.” — Helen

Buy Neutrogena T/Gel therapeutic shampoo on Amazon here.

Sorry, the product is not available now. We hope it’ll be soon!

E45 dry scalp shampoo is good for regular use no matter what type of hair you have, but its formula was designed to provide relief for more dry and itchy scalps. It is also suitable for more serious cases of dry skin or other scalp conditions.

Some of the ingredients that make this shampoo a good choice against dandruff are:

  • Climbazole: An active antifungal agent that is used in the treatment of fungal infections, like dandruff.
  • Panthenol: This substance acts as a moisturizer and anti-irritant agent. It also helps the skin in building up a barrier that prevents irritation and water loss.
  • Polyquaternium-10: This compound attracts moisture and forms a film that further prevents water loss on your scalp.

Customer review: “I recently relocated to an area with a colder climate, meaning more indoor heating. Over the past few weeks, I’ve suffered from a red, dry, flaky scalp — incredibly uncomfortable and embarrassing. After trying a couple of other brands that didn’t work, I thought I’d give this a shot. After 3 weeks, my scalp is healed and I’m so relieved. The shampoo also smells really nice, cleans my hair beautifully, makes it less frizzy, and leaves it feeling super soft. I just ordered 6 more bottles. This will now be my go-to shampoo, certainly over the cold months.” — Sophia

Buy E45 dry scalp shampoo on Amazon here.

Have you ever had to deal with dandruff? What measures have you taken to mitigate any dandruff-related problems?

5-Minute Crafts gets commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

Preview photo credit kysadilla / Reddit
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