Dandruff 101: Causes, Cures and Prevention Tips

White out! Educate yourself with everything you need to know about this pesky scalp disorder.

It may sound like a scary stat, but 37% of men and 27% of women have had problems with dandruff last year. So what is dandruff? Dandruff is a common condition affecting the scalp. It’s characterized by itching, dryness and flaking and is somewhat harmless, but is still, nevertheless, a nuisance.

It can be particularly bothersome during the winter months, as cold, dry weather seems to trigger the onset of the disorder. Read on to discover some ways that might help you prevent this issue.

dandruff scalp blonde
Scalp issues are skin issues too.

 Dandruff can have many causes.

1. A fungus

Some studies have shown that dandruff is caused by an overgrowth of malassezia, a yeast fungus commonly found on human scalps and other animals. Weather, lifestyle choices, fluctuations in one’s immune system, stress, chemical processing, hair care habits and a person’s genetic makeup have all been cited as possible reasons for this overproduction. Learn more about possible dandruff triggers and causes.

2. The weather

The winter season, as well as other extremely dry climate conditions, have also been known to exacerbate dandruff. Sufferers of seasonal dandruff may know this as having that telltale itchy-scalp feeling when the weather turns drier and may find relief by keeping their scalps and hair moisturized and well-balanced with a system tailor-made for this problem, such as Dove Dermacare Scalp Dryness & Itch Relief Anti-Dandruff Shampoo and Dryness & Itch Relief Anti-Dandruff Conditioner. Want more tips? Learn more ways to keep things in optimal condition in drier weather.

Scalp cells can turn over quickly.

Malassezia feed on the oils secreted by hair follicles, and once yeast levels have reached a higher-than-normal point, they irritate the scalp, resulting in faster cell turnover. According to Unilever’s R&D expert, Leon-Van Gorkom, “The faster turnover no longer allows the scalp cells to slough off in invisible tiny flakes, but in larger visible flakes.” This can manifest as white patches of skin that fall from our scalps, or what people refer to as dandruff. Sometimes, dandruff is also mistaken for seborrheic dermatitis. Leon-van says, “Seborrheic dermatitis has similar symptoms to dandruff, but [with] more oily/yellow flakes. It is unclear whether this is a severe form of dandruff or a separate disorder.” Separate more myths from facts by understanding the most popular dandruff misconceptions out there.

dandruff can be enervating
Both the symptoms AND the stigma of dandruff can be highly stressful.

Although not life-threatening, it can be very enervating.

Though the symptoms of dandruff are treatable and not a serious cause for concern, the fact that it has telltale aesthetic symptoms is what makes the disorder a cause for embarrassment. The most obvious sign that you have a dandruff problem is the presence of loose, sometimes scaly flakes on your hair’s mid-lengths and on your torso. That said, both men and women alike can suffer from this disorder, with men prone to having oilier scalps and leaving product residue onto hair.

The stigma that comes with having this disorder—bad health, poor hygiene, etc.—is, of course, unfounded, but can increase the anxiety and stress already suffered by those with the condition, which then may worsen symptoms and compound the entire problem.

dandruff cures
Maintaining a well-balanced scalp is your first line of defense against dandruff.

Dandruff Cures: There’s Hope!

Since one of the purported causes of this ailment is an oil-feeding yeast, several haircare products have taken to churning out formulations that balance out oil production on scalps. Though not FDA-approved claims to control dandruff, some also say that first and foremost in eliminating the problem is having a healthy, well-balanced and well-stimulated scalp. You can also help treat seasonal or winter dandruff by maintaining an optimal level of scalp hydration.

Approved active ingredients in the market include zinc pyrithione, selenium sulfide, salicylic acid and tar. They all work in different ways, and of the group, zinc pyrithione is the most widely used. We also like the no-compromise/non-straw-like feel we get from a good anti-dandruff shampoo with a conditioner, such as Dove Dermacare Scalp Invigorating Mint Anti-Dandruff 2-in-1 Shampoo and Conditioner.

dandruff cures
Understand: Scalp is skin. What lack of sleep, poor diet and a stressful lifestyle can do to your skin can also affect your scalp.

Dandruff Prevention Tips

1. Keep things balanced.

Sticking to a balanced diet, a healthy workout and fitness regimen, getting sufficient sleep and avoiding stress seem like the usual catch-all cures prescribed for almost anything. Skepticism aside, results get more acute when it comes to skin and scalp care, however: Just imagine how doing the reverse affects the skin on your face, and you get a pretty good idea of how your scalp is faring as well.

2. Enhance your diet.

Although not necessarily proven, some nutritionists recommend a diet rich in vitamin B and E, zinc, dairy and omega-3—lots of protein, fresh fruit and veggies and a lot less of the sugar and yeast, for obvious reasons. Hydration is also key, both inside and outside the body. Drinking lots of water and investing in a humidifier for your home or office can also help keep your moisture levels balanced.

3. Use the right products.

Lastly, hair products that also keep strands healthy-looking and moisturized, while maintaining optimum oil levels in the scalp, are essential to maintaining good scalp health. We love the formulation of RE-Fresh Coconut & Sooth Anti-Dandruff Shampoo and Anti-Dandruff Conditioner, which refreshes and rejuvenates your scalp and is gentle enough to use daily.

Have you ever had dandruff? Sound off on your experience at @AllThingsHairUS.

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