Ever have to deal with those pesky flakes
falling off your head when you give your hair a morning brush? Or when you just
cant seem to get rid of that head itch.
It could be that you have dandruff. Don't panic, even though it is harmless, dandruff can be
embarrassing for those who have it. So we put together some information for you to know how to take care of this condition.
So what is dandruff?
Dandruff is a condition which occurs usually
during puberty and reaches peak in early adulthood. Skin cells on the scalp
shed normally. With dandruff, however, skin cells are shed at a faster rate
than normal. Oil from the scalp causes the skin cells to clump together and
appear as white flakes (scaling).
What are the causes?
Skin conditions such as psoriasis, seborrheic
dermatitis, or eczema can cause dandruff. Also, irritants to the scalp such as hair dyes and
relaxers can also lead to dandruff. Even poor rinsing after shampooing the hair
can leave traces of shampoo which could irritate the scalp. It can be also caused by a mild form of seborrhoeic
dermatitis and is associated with the yeast Malassezia furfur.
So what does it look like?
Dandruff is characterised by greyish-white
flakes or scales on the scalp and an itchy scalp as a result of excessive
It is located only on the scalp and is generally
a mild condition. However, scratching an itch caused by the dryness of the
scalp may cause breakage of the skin, leading to soreness and the possibility
of an infection. If there are signs of infections (crusting or weeping), you
should seek medical attention from your pharmacist or doctor.
How to treat your dandruff.
Dandruff treatments, which should show results
of improvement within 12 weeks of starting, need to be applied to the scalp and
be left for at least 5 minutes for the best effect. However, if an appropriate
treatment has been correctly used with no improvements, you should speak to
your pharmacist or doctor.
Look out for hair products with these
ingredients to help to treat dandruff.
• Ketoconazole 2% shampoo, is an anti fungal agent used to reduce the
level of M.furfur on the scalp. It can be used twice a week for 2-4
weeks, then once weekly or fortnightly to prevent reoccurrence.
• Zinc pyrithione reduces the over growth of cells on the scalp and
should be used twice weekly for the first 2 weeks, then once weekly as
• Selenium sulphide 2.5% has been shown to be effective and works by
reducing the growth of cells as well. It should be used twice a week for the
first 2 weeks then weekly for the following 2 weeks, then it can be used as
- Wash your hair thoroughly when using
shampoos with selenium sulphide as discolouration of blond, grey or dyed hair
can result. Frequent use can make the scalp greasy and therefore worsen seborrhoeic
dermatitis. Products containing selenium sulphide should not be used within 48
hours of colouring or relaxing the hair. Also do not use selenium sulphide on
inflamed or broken skin.
- It is important to remember that treatment will
not cure the dandruff permanently and it is advised to continuously use anti
dandruff treatment occasionally to prevent reoccurrence.
- It is the scalp that requires the treatment and
not the hair, therefore the treatment should be applied directly to the scalp
and left for at least 5 minutes before rinsing.
- It is generally agreed that frequent hair
washing is an important part of managing dandruff (3 times a week). You can use
your normal shampoo between the days you use anti-dandruff treatment.