By Dr. Nitin Kumar Saxena, Dermatology
Small amounts of dead skin cells which are shed from the scalp are called dandruff.
Dandruff is a harmless, chronic condition that occurs when the scalp becomes dry or greasy and produces white flakes of dead skin that appear in the hair or on the shoulders. People most often think of dandruff as anything that produces a flaky scalp.
Although it is harmless, dandruff can be embarrassing for those who have it. Dandruff usually starts between the ages of 10 and 20 and affects up to 40% of people over the age of 30.
Dandruff has various causes, some of them include—
- Oily, irritated skin: If your skin is red and greasy, and covered with flaky yellow or white scales, then you might have seborrheic dermatitis. This condition is one of the most common causes of dandruff.
- Infrequent Shampooing: Skin cells and oils build up on your scalp if you do not wash your hair frequently, thus causing dandruff.
- Malassezia: This condition is caused by a fungus. This condition causes your scalp to be irritated, which causes excessive skin cell production.
- Dry Skin: Sometimes dry skin causes flakes of dandruff on your scalp, but they are usually less oily and smaller.
- Contact Dermatitis: Contact dermatitis is sensitivity to certain haircare products. Sometimes, certain ingredients in shampoos and conditioners can cause dandruff.
Treating dandruff is an arduous process as it requires some trial and error as not all dandruff shampoos out there will work for you. You need to experiment before you find the solution that is best for you. Usually, dandruff shampoos are categorised by their ingredients. You can look for the following categories:
- Pyrithione zinc shampoos
- Tar-based shampoos
- Salicylic acid shampoos
- Selenium sulphide shampoos
- Ketoconazole shampoos
Besides these medicated ingredients, you can also try vinegar, tea tree oil or baking soda to treat your dandruff.