Dandruff is a scalp condition that is experienced by millions, perhaps even billions of people at one time or another.
For many, it is a temporarily tolerable inconvenience; but for others, dandruff can be quite severe.
Dandruff can be symptomatic of a serious health problem, and it can also cause a great deal of unwanted attention (not to mention limiting the desire to wear black and dark colors!).
Dandruff is the shedding of dead skin cells from the scalp. These cells, however, collect together and thus form “clumps”; and this is what makes them more visible. A common misunderstanding about dandruff is that the process of scalp exfoliation (the scalp shedding dead skin cells) is unusual or problematic.
Actually, it’s perfectly normal; the body continuously sheds dead skin; a process that slows down as a person ages. What makes dandruff a problem, however, is when the skin renewal on the scalp occurs too swiftly. Generally, skin renewal on the scalp should occur once a month, when scalp cells are pushed from the epidermis to the dermis (the top layer of skin). But when this is twice a month, or even three times a month, the dead skin cells collect and then shed.
What Causes Dandruff?
A dandruff-prone scalp can occur from over-styling and overuse of harsh hair care products, such as some hair sprays, or bleaching/dyeing.
A huge misconception the world over is that dandruff exclusively comes from dry scalp. Yes, dry scalp can be a cause of dandruff, but an oily scalp can also be the problem. Both are described below.
In terms of dry-scalp dandruff (which can often lead to a condition called “pityriasis”), the dryness of the scalp does not permit natural oils to lubricate the skin and prevent itching. As the result of repeating itching (which can take place sometimes during sleep), a red and thick scalp can result. This can also spread to the face and neck.
Oily Scalp Dandruff
In terms of oily scalp dandruff, an oily scalp enhances the production of yeast on the dermal layer of skin, thus causing excess skin renewal. This can lead to a condition called “seborrheic dermatitis”. It’s also a misconception that mere shampoo will “get rid of dandruff”. True, washing the hair can rinse dandruff from the scalp, but it does not solve the root of the problem; and within a few days, or weeks, excess exfoliation will occur (and flakes will reappear). Furthermore, since human hair is acidic on the ph scale, using an alkaline-balanced shampoo can actually make dandruff worse!
Cure for Dandruff
Brushing the scalp can help mitigate or control some forms of dandruff; however, this can backfire if the skin is already irritated (as can be the case, especially, with dry-scalp dandruff). Shampoos (such as Nizoral) that contain sulphur, salicylic acid, and tars are also recommended to control some dandruff conditions. These shampoos are typically available without prescription, but more potent formulas are available per a doctor’s recommendation. Diet can also influence (positively or negatively) dandruff. A diet that is deficient in Vitamin B, A, or C can lead to dandruff, as can overeating fatty foods.