What’s the first thing you discover once you comb your hair?
For me, recently...it’s been dandruff.
It can be quite an annoying problem. Most people prefer to scratch it away while some leave it to be as it is (like me :D, you know...until now).
So what’s the danger in letting it be?
Sometimes, it could end up being an infection that looks like dandruff (yeah, pretty misleading). Apparently this condition affects almost 40% of people at the age of 30.
Let’s talk about the real dandruff….
Your scalp is used to producing new skin cells after it sheds the old ones. When this process speeds up, it tends to shed more than usual, leading to what we call - dandruff.
There are a number of aspects as to why dandruff occurs but the most basic thing to know is that the microbe/fungus called malassezia causes it. Other causes of dandruff could be : reaction to hair products, a sensitive scalp or excessive oils that are secreted by the scalp. If you are undergoing stress or are sick, the dandruff production increases. Cold dry weather can worsen your condition.
Signs and Symptoms of Dandruff
The common impression is that flakes are the only sign of dandruff. However, there are a number of things that appear before flakes.
- Itchiness is one of the most common symptoms that appear before flakes, The malassezia fungi triggers the irritation and this is a possible symptom of dandruff.
- A visible sign of skin damage of the scalp is another sign of dandruff. This is usually accompanied by dryness, tightness, redness and irritation.
- If it is a case of seborrheic dermatitis, the scalp becomes dry and greasy, is red and feels itchy. The dead skin turns into yellowish scales. An extreme case of seborrheic dermatitis affects other parts of the body as well including the chest, nose and ears.
Causes of Dandruff
Dandruff gets worse during the winter months and adds to the frustration of the individual. The reasons for dandruff could range from the mundane to the complicated. For example there is a rising incidence of this problem among teenagers and school children, simply because of the increasing use of gels, sprays and other hair products. If you have a family member who has been affected by dandruff, there is a high possibility that you might be infected too.
New research also indicates that apart from fungi there are several strains of bacteria that adversely impact the health of your hair. They attack the scalp in partnership and harm the scalp. A diet which lacks the basic nutritional ingredients will only aggravate the condition of your hair. Here are some of the common causes of dandruff.
- Dry Skin: One of the most common causes of dandruff is dry skin. We know that dry skin is the cause of dandruff if other parts of the body are dry as well.
- Not shampooing: If you are not shampooing enough, oil gathers in the skin and creates dandruff. The key to completely curing a dandruff-affected scalp is to keep using an anti-dandruff shampoo even after the condition is corrected. Do not switch to a normal shampoo even after the dandruff issues appear to have resolved. Avoid shampoos that have detergent, they make dandruff worse. Ideally you should lather it onto your scalp, leave it for 5 minutes and then wash it off
- Allergic reaction: If you are allergic to any product/foodstuff you could experience an allergic reaction.
- Medical condition: If you have a condition like seborrheic dermatitis it affects all regions which have oil glands including the scalp. The scalp looks red and has dandruff.
- A yeast overgrowth: The fungus malassezia lives on the scalp and skin and can sometimes cause dandruff. This fungi feeds off saturated fatty acids and therefore a greasy scalp is the perfect environment for it to increase. Malassezia disrupts the cell renewal process. Anti-fungal treatments currently being developed are focused on the removal of Malassezia.
Also Read : Psoriasis Scalp vs Dandruff
Types of Dandruff
Let’s make it simple, most dandruff are of 3-4 types. Most of them are essentially harmless but sometimes the situation could aggravate considerably. Then they have the potential to disturb you not only with their itchiness and tendency to attach itself to your clothes, but also degenerating into a full-blown infection. The types of dandruff are:
- Oily scalp producing extra oil
- Dryness in scalp
- Fungal Infection
- Disease related dandruff
So…. how do you know which one is yours?
- Oily scalp results when there is excess production of sebum oil which tends to accumulate all the dead skin and form itchy flakes. An excess of sebum results from stress and anxiety.
- Dry scalp is caused when it is unable to hold moisture and causes flaking, irritation and itchiness and it happens in most parts of the body. This condition mostly occurs in winter, and a hot water shampoo aggravates this condition.
- When it is fungal, dandruff treatment must be taken, as waiting for it to lessen won’t help you. Fungal malassezia feeds on excess scalp oil and forms oleic acid to collect dead cells and cause white flakes. Dry skinflakes are smaller and whiter and just like dandruff, may cause itching and irritation. There are several reasons for fungal infections including an unhealthy diet, stress, strong chemicals in hair care products, sharing hairbrushes with infected people, cuts on scalp etc.
- There are other more serious conditions like eczema and scalp psoriasis which create scaly skin on the scalp. Seborrheic dermatitis is even more serious as it results in red skin and an itchy scalp and develops in the back of the head and neck. It could very easily spread to the face and ears.
So how do you distinguish between dry flakes and a fungal infection? Look out for the following dandruff signs.
- Your hair gets oily just 2 days after wash and your dandruff gets better when you wash hair frequently.
- Oily, greasy scalp with yellowish flakes
- Too much itchiness when the above two are present
Also Read : Dandruff vs Dry Scalp
How do we go about fixing dandruff?
There are different ways to go about to fix our dandruff issues. It the procedure of treatment will depend on a number of factors including the age of the person, other pre-existing conditions and the severity of the current dandruff problem. Our data shows that about 85% of the clients who come to Traya, suffer from dandruff. Out of this, 60% suffer from a fungal infection & the rest have an oily scalp. So these few tips will definitely come in handy for you.
- Remind yourself that it’s completely normal to have dandruff
It’s a part of life and it’s not the end of the world. You don’t need to feel bad about it. With the right treatment and precautions it will definitely not aggravate into something more serious. Anyway, you’re not the only one going through this. There are a million others who are sailing in similar boats and everyone experiences this at least once in their lives (if someone hasn’t then ...they're probably aliens :p).
- First rule out fungal : Use a shampoo that lists below ingredients:
An anti dandruff shampoo would typically contain Zinc Pyrithione, Ketoconazole, Salicylic acid, etc. While the first two combat the microbe causing dandruff, salicylic acid works on the itchy part of the dandruff deal. When the shampoo helps, then you know it’s fungal. Keep using the shampoo till you get rid. Use again if dandruff re-appears. The following dandruff home remedies might also help and are considered the best dandruff treatment by some:
- Apply baking soda to wet hair and shampoo as usual after a minute or two. It has antifungal properties which might relieve itching and irritation.
Apple cider vinegar is also a good antifungal agent and can be used to make a dandruff solution. Mix it with an equal quantity of water and rub it on to the scalp. Wash it off after 2 hours.
Add 2 teaspoons of neem oil to a tablespoon of coconut oil and apply it to your scalp or hair. Wash it off after 60 minutes.
Add 2-3 drops of castor oil to 2 tablespoons of almond oil and apply to your scalp and hair. Wash it off after an hour.
Mix mehndi with curd and add a bit of lemon juice. Keep this mix aside for 8 hours and after applying it let it stay on for 2 hours before washing it off.
Mix 2 table spoons of coconut juice with some lemon. Apply it to your hair and leave it on for 20 minutes before washing it off.
Take an orange peel and squeeze some lemon juice into it and grind it to a paste. Apply it to your hair and scalp and keep it for 20 minutes before washing it off.
To prevent a fungal infection try and practice the following habits:
- Have a bath regularly
- Follow a healthy diet. Include fish, flaxseeds and walnuts in your diet. Biotin (vitamin B7), found in sweet potatoes, egg yolk and almonds is especially good for your hair. Fruits and fresh, leafy green vegetable are also extremely good for your hair health.
- Do not overuse steroids and antibiotics
- Limit the use of scarves and caps and keep your hair dandruff free
- Keep the scalp clean and dry
- Avoid starchy & sugary foods and fish with high mercury content including mackerel, swordfish and certain types of tuna. Limit your alcohol intake.
If your dandruff sticks to the scalp and exists even after a wash, reachout to us or see a dermat, You most likely need a stronger antifungal. There are lotions or oral tablets that dermats give to help you get rid of the infection.
If you are suffering from ringworm, it would be advisable to visit a medical expert who will perform detailed tests before prescribing any medication.
Make sure to rinse hair thoroughly while washing it
Sometimes oils or shampoos that aren’t washed off, remain on the scalp and worsen dandruff. Try to avoid standardised oils, the components might not be right for your scalp. Start using essential oils or just order our scalp oil that customises hair oil according to scalp condition. Also, make sure to avoid using low quality gels and moistening the scalp frequently. Don’t keep hair oils for longer duration, an hour before wash should be fine.
Keep conditioner very far from your scalp. Just apply to lower dry strands and rinse thoroughly with cold water.
Reduce your stress levels by relaxing yourself
Some studies say that stress can increase dandruff. Which means that if you’ve got a habit of scratching your head when you’re extremely stressed…..it’s time to get it under control (both if you can, or start with one and then work towards the second). Certain fungi proliferate rapidly in a body whose immune system has been weakened by stress. Start with a relaxing walk or practice yoga and keep those damaging effects under control.
According to research, dandruff can also cause much emotional distress because unfortunately people have just misunderstood the whole problem.We understand the anxieties that go into controlling it and how it can affect the way you perceive yourself. Having dandruff is natural and can be treated. Get all these in place and you’ll do great dealing with dandruff. If you have used a couple of different dandruff shampoos/products with no visible difference in your condition, it is time to make an appointment with a specialist. Visiting a dermat or ordering traya solution for dandruff doesn’t hurt, trust me ;)
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