Forms of the Flakes: Types of Dandruff

About Dr Jaspreet Sarna
Dr. Sarna is an MD (Skin & VD) and Gold Medalist from Baroda Medical College. She has a decade long experience in treating hair loss and working on hair regrowth. She believes stress management is the key to good health.
Dandruff is a fungal condition caused by a fungus called malassezia furfur. It can present as flaky and sticky dandruff. In this blog we talk all about flaky dandruff - causes, symptoms and treatment options.
Forms of the Flakes: Types of Dandruff
Dandruff is characterised by white flakes in the hair and is at times accompanied by inflammation and an itchy scalp. Though it is harmless, it could frequently develop into a more serious itch and deposit itself on your clothes on a regular basis, to cause a lot of frustration. Despite the severe irritation caused by certain types of dandruff, it is essentially treatable. There are many different reasons why dandruff occurs and it could be of many separate types. It is important to differentiate between the types of dandruff, to be able to treat them. 

How to Identify the Types of Dandruff You Have

Dandruff could occur due to a variety of factors including a dry scalp, eczema, psoriasis fungus or a wrong shampoo. But it is important to note that the symptoms of dandruff vs dry scalp are quite different as are scalp psoriasis vs dandruff issues. Every person could have different causes of dandruff and therefore it is necessary to identify the types of dandruff so that we can take the correct remedial measures. A detailed scalp examination is enough to reveal the cause in most cases. At times however, a biopsy might be required wherein a small section of the skin is extracted and examined under a microscope for a confirmation. 
  • Dry skin dandruff: This is a very common phenomenon and could be the result of taking a shampoo and washing your hair with very hot water which creates dryness. This happens essentially in winter and is very common among people with dry curly hair. It could also be the result of infrequent shampooing.
  • Oily-scalp related dandruff: This is a condition that is the result of an oily scalp and could result in different types of dandruff. Sebum is necessary as it keeps the scalp moisturised. However, the scalp sometimes produces excess sebum and this when mixed with dirt and dead skin cells could cause dandruff. The excess sebum could be the consequence of stress, which forces the body to release an abnormally high level of sebum. 
  • Fungal Dandruff: it is quite normal to find fungal Malassezia on the skin and scalp. This is the result of excessive oil in the scalp or a pH imbalance. The oleic acid produced is a by-product that creates more skin cells and forces them to gather together and form white flakes. 
  • Dandruff caused by product build up: The use of too many hair products including gels, pomades, dyes, leave-in conditioners and mousses bring with them, its own share of risks and are responsible for different types of dandruff. They could accumulate and combine with dirt and dead skin cells to cause dandruff. 
  • Disease-related dandruff: Certain skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema lead to an exaggerated production of skin cells and this causes scaly skin to develop on the scalp. When sebum and impurities combine with these skin cells, they cause dandruff. 
Psoriasis also causes silver-coloured patches and big white flakes and is accompanied by mild itching.
  • Dandruff caused by seborrheic dermatitis: This is a more severe form of dandruff as it causes sores, redness and an itchy scalp. The cause is an inflammation triggered by a yeast infection. Stress and hormonal changes could also be the cause of seborrheic dermatitis.

How to Treat Different Types of Dandruff

As dandruff types and causes are different, the procedures of treating the different types of dandruff are also quite different. While the cure for some is convenient and easy and could even be managed with home remedies, others could demand more serious attention and might even require prescription medicines. Let’s look at the different types of dandruff and treatment processes. 
  • Dry skin dandruff: A moisturising shampoo is an absolute essential to treat dry skin dandruff. A thorough massage with warm coconut oil could remove the itchiness and act as a protection against dryness. Coconut oil also has antifungal and antibacterial properties to prevent infection.
Aloe vera is also effective for a dry scalp. It offers relief against skin irritation and is a potent moisturiser. Apply pure aloe vera gel to your scalp and rinse it off with cool water after 20 minutes. 
The combination of baking soda and olive oil can work to exfoliate the scalp. While olive oil is hydrating, baking soda has excellent antifungal qualities and is frequently used to treat different types of dandruff. If you have dandruff problems too, the combination can treat the white flakes. 
Mix equal parts of baking soda and olive oil and apply to your scalp. Wash it off after 10 minutes with shampoo and conditioner to remove all the impurities.
  • Oily skin dandruff: To solve your greasy scalp issues using an shampoo for oily hair dandruff with salicylic acid is recommended. Avoid using conditioner on your hair. Lemon juice is a great way to remove the grease in your hair and is also a potent remedy for all types of dandruff. Squeeze out the juice from a lemon into a glass of water and apply it all over your scalp. Wash it off after 10 minutes with lukewarm water. 
Green or black tea is also very effective on greasy hair. Its acidic nature helps prevent excess oil from accumulating.  Dip 2 teabags of green/black tea in hot water. Add some cold water to the tea after taking out the tea bags. Rub this all over your hair and scalp and wash after 15 minutes. 
The astringent properties of apple cider vinegar are also an excellent remedy against excess oil secretion and different types of dandruff. Dilute 1 cup of apple cider with a litre of water and rinse your hair and scalp with it. Wash it with normal water after 20 minutes. 
  • Fungus related dandruff: Use a shampoo containing zinc pyrithione to treat Malassezia like fungus problems. This is also effective against other types of dandruff and scalp conditions such as eczema and psoriasis among other things. 
You can also use OTC medicines, specifically antifungal drugs called azoles. Drugs which have ketoconazole, clotrimazole, econazole etc. as active ingredients are very potent for most scalp dandruff types. If this does not help, you can ask your healthcare provider to suggest an appropriate cortisone foam.
Curd is very useful in removing all fungal infections. The lactic acid helps in the removal of dandruff and the protein content makes the roots more robust.
Tea tree oil is also very effective in treating fungal and bacterial infections. You can apply the tea tree oil to the affected area with a swab of cotton. Do this 2-3 times a day; it might be helpful to dilute this with coconut oil if you have sensitive skin. This is effective against different kinds of dandruff.
Turmeric is also a pretty useful ingredient for fungal issues and all types of dandruff. It also has good anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Grind turmeric and mix it with a little water to form a paste. Apply it to your scalp and let it dry. Wash it off in 20 minutes.  
Neem is also one of the very potent remedies with its antifungal, antimicrobial and ani-inflammatory properties. Grind the neem leaves to make a paste and leave it on your hair for 20 minutes before washing it off with a mild shampoo. This is a very useful remedy for the treatment of different types of dandruff. 
Protein rich fenugreek seeds are great for hair fall and dandruff and they help moisturise the scalp and this is also what makes it the perfect remedy for different types of dandruff. Make a paste of fenugreek seeds soaked overnight and apply it to your hair and scalp. Wash off after 20 minutes.
  • Seborrheic dermatitis treatment: There is a possibility wherein your seborrheic dermatitis will clear up by itself but on occasions a detailed treatment plan will be necessary to treat your problem. Over-the-counter medicines and home treatment will be part of the plan. Your OTC anti-dandruff shampoo might have one of the following ingredients - Coal tar, Ketoconazole, Salicylic acid, Selenium sulphide or zinc pyrithione.  You might also be suggested corticosteroid lotions or sulphur products to deal with your seborrheic dermatitis or different types of dandruff issues. 
The anti-inflammatory action of aloe vera will be very useful in minimising the impact of a seborrheic dermatitis flare-up. 
Olive oil is also very effective as it helps remove the scales from the scalp. Leave the oil for an hour after applying it to your scalp. Brush well to help loosen and remove the scales. Shampoo with lukewarm water.
 

Tips to Prevent Dandruff

Apart from the numerous home remedies for dandruff available we can also make use of some very basic and convenient tips that would be quite helpful in its prevention. Dandruff is caused by a combination of genetic and external factors and we can do a couple of things to minimise the impact of these various factors: 
  • Diet: This is where it all starts from. There are a range of body deficiencies that could trigger off your particular hair condition. A healthy and balanced diet would be your way to nip the problem at the initial stage itself. Reduce your high-carb diets as they lead to the build-up of glycogen which yeast feast on.
Omega 3 fatty acids: Dandruff and dry skin are frequently a result of Omega-3s as they provide the body with the necessary oils, moisturise and prevent inflammation. Salmons, walnuts and mackerels are some of the foods full of the goodness of these vital fatty acids. 
Zinc: This is one of the most important minerals as it bolsters the immune system. Animal proteins, whole grains and nuts are good sources of zinc. 
Probiotics: Home-made curd is one of the best sources of probiotics. They also help strengthen the immune system and help the body combat the fungal infections that cause dandruff. They balance the pH level of your scalp and prevent it from becoming a breeding ground for harmful fungus.
Biotin: This vitamin is responsible for the formation of red blood cells which help carry oxygen and other nutrients to nourish the hair follicles and fight dandruff. Biotin is found in meat, eggs, fish, whole grain and almonds among other things. 
Fibre oriented diet: Add fruits and vegetables to your diet as they are loaded with fibre. The fibre promotes digestion which can help fight skin issues including types of scalp dandruff. 
Limit the sugar intake: If you cut down on your sugar intake with a low sugar, antioxidant diet you may be able to lower your risk of inflammation and control dandruff. 
  • Shampoo: it is extremely important to shampoo well as this could help you avoid dandruff issues. A major reason for dandruff is the accumulation of dead cells and oil in the scalp due to improper washing. Conditioners should be applied at least an inch away from the scalp. It is very important to make sure that the residue is not left behind. You can try Traya Anti- dandruff shampoo which removes dandruff, reduces irritation and soothes scalp.
  • Exfoliate your scalp: This is the process of removing the top layer of dry skin which helps in breaking down the dead skin cells that gather on your scalp and cause flaking. This can be done with the help of scalp exfoliators which contain salicylic acid. Exfoliation is very useful for all types of dandruff on scalp.
  • Hot oil masks: Oil-based treatments are effective in balancing the scalp’s excess oil production. Applying oils will help extract the oils from the scalp and get rid of them. Warm coconut oil (avoid making it too hot) is a good option.
  • Wash your scalp only: Use dandruff shampoos only on your scalp as they could dry out your hair. Massage it for at least 5 minutes into the scalp before washing it off.
  • Massage in case of an itch, do not scratch: If you have a severe itch on your scalp, do not scratch, as you could open up a wound and cause an infection. Try and gently massage your scalp instead. 
There are many types of dandruff that could cause a lot of damage to your hair and scalp. Early diagnosis of dandruff types and remedies will ensure that the condition does not deteriorate beyond repair. Dandruff is a chronic condition faced by millions across the world and there is no cause for despair. Do visit us at Traya as our experts take charge of your tresses and ensure that they achieve their full potential of strength and beauty.

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