How many times have you rejected dark clothes due to suffering from dandruff? You are not alone as more than half of the adult population around the world suffers from the issue. It is a chronic scalp condition marked by skin flaking. The other name for the condition is seborrheic dermatitis or seborrhea. It can affect adults as well as kids regardless of their race or age. The condition is embarrassing as most people relate it to poor hygiene. But, your hygiene plays no role in developing the condition. But, you can control the problem and prevent it from making you feel self-conscious. Mild cases of seborrhea can go away with daily shampooing. The more severe cases need medicated shampoo to manage the problem.
The condition can result in white/yellowish flaky skin to form on the head. It can also form on other oily parts. The problem mostly occurs due to excessive skin cell growth. The problem has no known cure. But, it is possible to manage the condition with home remedies and other treatment options. The itching and flaking can cause problems with your self-esteem and social problems. You need to manage the condition to prevent such issues. Many misconceptions and wrong facts surround seborrheic dermatitis. So, you need to gain comprehensive information about the issue. It will help you deal with the problem better.
What Is Dandruff?
It is the flaky, white substance that comes off your scalp. You can experience itching of your scalp, tightness as well as redness in the affected area. Some factors can contribute to the growth of the excessive growth of skin cells. The excessive skin cells can stick together and then fall off from your scalp as flakes. When you suffer from itching, it can lead to scratching and subsequent inflammation. The inflammation only makes the condition worse.
Symptoms Associated With Dandruff
It can affect young children, teens, and adults. For teens and adult, it is easy to spot the symptoms. The presence of white, oil-looking flakes that covers the hair and shoulders. It looks like white dots on your hair. You can also experience itching and well as the appearance of scales on the scalp. The condition can become worse during the fall as well as winter. If you have indoor heating, it can worsen the condition due to your skin becoming dry. The issue can get better during the summer season. So, the signs associated with the problem are:
- The appearance of white flakes on the shoulder (it is most visible when you wear dark clothing)
- Scaly facial skin
- Itchy scalp
- Recurrent ear eczema
- Eyebrow rash
- A facial rash over nose and ears
- Oily scalp
- Beard rash
- Red spots on the chest
- Chest rash with dry flakes
Signs Of Dandruff Affecting Babies
Children can suffer from a specific type of dandruff known as cradle cap. The problem can cause crusty and scaly scalp. It is most common in the newborn. But, the problem can affect at any time during infancy. Any problem affecting a child can bother their parents. You never have to panic when you observe the issue in your child. It is not dangerous and clears on its own without any specific treatments.
Causes Of Dandruff
You cannot pinpoint the exact reason for triggering dandruff. Several problems can result in the development of the problem. Bacteria cannot lead to the development of seborrhea. You can confuse it with the scalp ringworm. But, the problem does not occur due to any fungal infection. Therefore, never confuse the different conditions. Although the condition does not spread from one person to another, it can cause embarrassment. The main factors leading to the issue are:
An oily scalp can irritate you and cause flaky skin. It is the most common reasons for dandruff. The oily scalp has the following signs:
- Red skin
- Greasy skin
- Presence of yellow scales or flaky white scales
The condition can result in affecting oil-rich glands like scalp, eyebrows, back of the ears, nose, breastbone, the groin region or even the armpits. The issue can trigger severe itching leading to discomfort.
Bad Hair Hygiene
You need to take care of scalp health. Good hygienic practices will prevent the accumulation of excess skin on the scalp. So, you need to wash your hair regularly. Regular washing with mild shampoo prevents the buildup of skin cells and oils. When you fail to clean the excess oils and skin cells, it can lead to seborrhea.
Presence Of Fungus
Malassezia is a yeast-like fungus that can affect the scalp. It can cause excess skin growth on your scalp. So, you can suffer from irritation and accumulation of excess skin cells. As the extra skin dies, it falls off from the scalp, making it look like white dots on your hair and clothes. But, you must distinguish it from the fungal infection. The fungus lives on the scalps of most adults. But, it only irritates some scalps and causes no problem for others. The exact reason why it affects only some scalps remains unclear.
If you have dry skin on your scalp, it can cause flakes. The white flakes appear smaller and appear less oily. The problem may not cause any inflammation or redness on your scalp. You can find such dryness in areas like arms and legs. So, check for dryness on your scalp that leads to the white flakes.
You can experience sensitivity to certain hair products. The allergic reaction can result in the red, itchy, and scaly scalp. The ingredients in such hair products or hair dyes are the reason for seeing white flakes on your hair.
Risk Factors Associated With Dandruff
Anyone can experience dandruff. But, some factors make you more vulnerable to the problem compared to others. So, if you come under any of the following categories, you need to maintain caution:
Age is an important factor associated with the scalp problem. The issue begins mostly in young adulthood. But, it can continue through the middle age. It does not mean that older people are not prone to the issue. In some people, the problem affects them for a long time.
Skin flakes are commonly found on men’s hair. Men are more prone to the problem compared to others. It is because of the male hormones.
Oily Scalp And Hair
You have a fungus (Malassezia) that feeds on the oil on your scalp. The excess oil on your hair and scalp can result in the flakes.
People with certain illness can develop seborrhea. Though the reasons remain unclear, people with neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease can suffer from the problem. It also affects people with low immunity. So, individuals with compromised immune systems (due to problems like HIV) need to maintain caution.
Diagnosis Of Dandruff
In most cases, you may not require a doctor’s assistance to manage the condition. You can try some over-the-counter shampoos to get rid of the oily scalp and flakes. But, if the shampoos fail to offer relief or you see other signs like redness and swelling, then you need to see a dermatologist. The specialist doctor who treats skin condition can help you manage the problem better. You can also visit the doctor to confirm the condition or the presence of other health problems that resemble dandruff. Diagnosing the problem is not a tough job. Your doctor can diagnose the issue by simply looking at your scalp. No need for other tests to detect the problem.
Treatment Options For Dandruff
The treatment options depend on the severity of the problem.
Home Remedies For Dandruff
If you have a mild case of seborrhea, you can adopt some home remedies to get rid of the problem. The home treatments aim to stop the flakes from forming by slowing down the reproduction of skin. It can also counteract yeast production that can result in the condition. The simple yet effective changes can help combat the problem to a great extent. The main attraction is, it causes no side-effects. So, you can try the following steps at home:
Use Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is well-known for its antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial properties. You can use for various purposes. It is effective in treating different issues with your scalp like controlling the excess skin cells. So, you can use the preparation that has tea tree oil as its ingredients on your scalp. The moisturizing and antifungal properties will help manage the main cause of flakes on your hair. But, maintain caution while using it as some people have allergic reactions to it.
Apply Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera is popular for its moisturizing properties. It also has antibacterial and antifungal properties that can help manage the scalp condition.
Use Apple Cider Vinegar
Although you have no studies suggesting the claims, ACV can help you get rid of seborrhea. Many people swear by the natural remedy. It is believed that the acidity in the vinegar can stimulate the shedding of dead skin cells. It also balances the pH level of your skin. So, it reduces the fungus growth on your scalp. It helps you fight seborrhea effectively.
Shampoo Your Hair
If you have an oily scalp and hair, then wash it regularly. You can use a mild shampoo to clean your scalp and hair. So, it prevents the accumulation of dead skin. If you are confused on the right shampoo to use, then you need to look at some ingredients that help manage seborrhea. You can get the suggested shampoos over the counter without any prescription.
- Zinc pyrithione (Head & Shoulders)
- Tar (Neutrogena T/Gel)
- Salicylic acid (L’Oreal Professionnel Serie Expert Volumetry Shampoo)
- Selenium sulfide (Abbott Selsun Shampoo)
- Ketoconazole (Nizoral)
You can use either one all the time or use it just once or twice in one week. The frequency of usage depends on the severity of your condition. Remember, all shampoo may not offer you results. You need to experiment until you find the one that provides positive results. If you experience adverse reactions like
Then, you need to stop using the product immediately. You need to seek immediate medical attention when you develop the following symptoms due to an allergic reaction:
- Difficulty breathing
If you have no such issues, then continue using the products daily. You can use it as per your convenience until you control the problem. You can cut back the usage to once or twice a week as per requirement. At times, you can see a specific shampoo working well for some time, then it loses its effectiveness. In such cases, try to alternate between two dandruff shampoos.
Use Topical Creams/Lotions
You can use over-the-counter cortisone based creams or lotions. The active ingredient can reduce inflammation and offer relief from scalp problems.
Topical Anti-Yeast Lotion
If you suffer from excess skin cells accumulation due to the presence of yeast, then you can use OTC topical anti-yeast shampoos.
Stress can trigger several problems, including dandruff. It can worsen the condition in some people. So, you need to take steps to manage stress. It will reduce the symptoms associated with the problem.
Exposure To Sunlight
You can see a visible difference in seborrhea when you step out in the sun. The exposure to sunlight can offer relief from the problem to an extent.
Medical Treatment For Dandruff
You control the problem with some trial and error. So, you need to have the patience to see the results of different treatment options. Mild cases can go away without any issue by adopting the steps suggested above. But, severe cases of seborrheic dermatitis needs medical treatment. Your dermatologist can adopt a strategy based on your age and severity of your condition. Based on the condition, you get the following treatment options:
- Prescription-strength shampoos
- Stronger corticosteroid gels/liquids or foam
- Antifungal shampoos
- Non-steroid preparations
The shampoo and other preparations are prepared to avoid matting and limping of hair. So, you can use it without worrying about the texture of your air.
Treatment For Dandruff In Babies
Babies can also suffer from the problem. The condition is referred to as cradle cap. It mostly affects newborns and young infants. Babies suffering from the condition can have yellow, scaly, and greasy patches on the scalp. It affects children within two months after birth. The problem can last for several weeks or even months. You need to gently wash your baby’s scalp with baby shampoo. Massage it with baby oil to prevent scales from building. But, consult a doctor immediately when you see the signs mentioned below:
- Skin cracking
- Spread to other parts of the body
By taking good care, the problem can ease without causing the baby any complications.
Complications Due To Dandruff
The severe case of dandruff can indicate a serious skin condition. So, you need treatment as soon as possible. Though you may not experience any physical complications due to seborrheic dermatitis, it can cause embarrassment. But, seborrhea caused due to underlying health condition can cause health complications like:
- Signs of infection like swelling, tenderness or redness
- Symptoms of skin disorders like itchy scalp, eczema or psoriasis
You may not experience any complications due to seborrhea. But, the different treatment methods can trigger complications. So, you need to consult your dermatologist before starting any treatment. People with a weakened immune system (due to health issues like HIV or AIDS) need to talk to their doctor about dandruff and get the necessary assistance.
It is possible to prevent the condition from affecting your life. The flakes appear due to dry or oily scalp. The oil buildup on the scalp can result in seborrhea. The dryness of hair and scalp can also result in the condition. So, you can follow the pointers to avoid the condition.
Regular Washing Of Hair
You need to wash your hair regularly. Good hair hygiene can prevent the development of excess flakes on the scalp. It keeps the scalp clean and healthy. If you have a hairy scalp, then wash your hair once a day with a mild shampoo. Regular washing can reduce irritation and oil accumulation on your scalp. Therefore, you can keep the hair healthy and prevent problems.
Avoid Hair Products
Styling products can cause damage to your scalp. You need to avoid various products like hair spray, hair gel, hair wax or mousses on your scalp. The chemical products can result in the development of excess skin and result in flakes. Therefore, you need to cut down the use of hair products. If you have an oily scalp, then try to avoid such chemical hair products. People who face the risk of seborrhea need to avoid the use of such products.
More Sun Exposure
Studies suggest that sun exposure can prevent the condition. So, try to spend more time outside. But, before going out in the sun, you need to take necessary precaution. Else, you can suffer sun poisoning or sunburns. Therefore, apply sunscreen with a good SPF on your whole body. Apply it liberally on exposed skin parts to avoid unhealthy sun exposure.
A healthy diet can keep you fit and fine. Try to include a diet that will keep your scalp healthy. Include high levels of B vitamins and Zinc in your diet. The diet rich in B vitamins, healthy fats, and Zinc can prevent the fungi that cause the scalp problem.
Stress is a negative emotion that can cause several issues in your body. When you work in a highly stressful job or face emotional stress, then it can trigger the scalp problem or make it worse. Therefore, you need to learn to manage the excess stress or anxiety you face in life. So, learn to deal with the excess pressure at work, home or school.
Dandruff is an annoying problem that remains a mystery to doctors. In some cases, the fungus that triggers the problem to some remains harmless to others. You cannot completely cure the problem. But, with good care and treatment, you can manage the condition. You cannot predict who will develop seborrhea or the severity of the issue. There are effective steps to control them at home. If you feel the problem not easing, then see a doctor to get treatment. Since some conditions have the same symptoms as seborrhea, a medical opinion can help eliminate other possibilities causing a flaky scalp. As the problem can cause self-esteem issue, you need to address it properly.
[expand title=”View Article Sources“]