Dandruff can be uncomfortably itchy and embarrassingly flaky. Known medically as seborrheic dermatitis, its cause is not known for sure, but it is sometimes hereditary and is also thought to be sparked by a common skin yeast called Malassezia. The chronic skin complaint can be aggravated by an oily scalp or hair, stress, fatigue and neurological conditions including Parkinson’s disease and stroke.
Flush Out the Flakes
For instant, if temporary, flake eradication, give your scalp a good exfoliation. Just as a facial scrub removes dead skin cells from your face, so a scalp scrub removes the immediate signs of dandruff. Sloughing off the dead skin also leaves the scalp clear and more able to absorb the active ingredients in your chosen anti-dandruff treatment. Look for products containing scrubbing particles -- natural exfoliants include crushed seeds and shells or bamboo; those that are man-made are often described as “microbeads.” Alternatively, make your own scrub by combining one part avocado or olive oil with two parts brown sugar.
Soothe the Scalp
It can be hard to choose a dandruff shampoo or lotion from the bewildering array at the drugstore. Look for active ingredients including salicylic acid and coal tar to reduce flaking and scaling, while zinc and tea tree oil act as anti-fungals to tackle the yeast that can cause dandruff. Get the most from the treatment by ensuring it makes full contact with the scalp. Divide your hair into sections and apply the product to one small area at a time, massaging it in thoroughly. Severe cases may require prescription medication containing selenium, ketoconazole or corticosteroids.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Seborrheic Dermatitis
- New York University Langone Medical Center: Seborrheic Dermatitis
- Allure: Healthy Hair – Exfoliate and Show Your Scalp Some Love
- Teen Vogue: The Unexpected Secret for Shiny, Gorgeous Hair
- A.D.A.M. Medical Encylopedia: Seborrheic Dermatitis
- Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology: Treatment of Dandruff with Five Percent Tea Tree Oil Shampoo
- The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology: Adult Seborrheic Dermatitis
- Cosmetics Info: Zinc Pyrithione
- Pub Med Health: Coal Tar (On the Skin)