Simply put, dandruff, the excessive shedding of the dead cells on your scalp, is plain annoying. The good thing though, is that it can happen to anyone and there are a few tricks you can do to keep the flakes to a minimum!
Who gets dandruff
Flaking occurs in all individuals, but can only be labeled as dandruff when the rate becomes abnormally high. Regular amounts of flaking of dead skin cells are rarely noticeable and the rate at which the cells die is slow. The skin cell cycle, from formation to apoptosis (programmed cell death), takes up to a month. The case, however, differs in individuals with dandruff – the skin cell cycle is completed much quicker in only two to seven days. As a result, the rate of flaking is accelerated and noticeable.
Dandruff can come up at any age, but it is predominant post-puberty. Very few cases are recorded pre-puberty and both sexes, male and female, are equally affected.
Symptoms of dandruff
The main symptoms associated with dandruff are itching, irritation, redness of the scalp and flakiness. The prevalence differs from one to another, depending on individual natural tendencies. Good Zing Expert and Hairdresser Cristiano Basciu says, "There is a difference between a dry scalp and dandruff – dry scalps are quite common and can be helped with moisturizing products, whereas dandruff is different. The first step is to try products designed to reduce dandruff, like Kérastase Specifique Bain Exfoliant Hydratant Shampoo. If the problem persists, ask your Doctor for a referral to a dermatologist who can help determine the cause."
What causes dandruff
The specific cause of dandruff is unknown, but some of the possible causes could be:
As mentioned previously, it is rare for someone to suffer from dandruff before puberty, but it can increase through the teenage years and early twenties. Its occurrence decreases gradually as the individual advances to middle age. This suggests that hormonal changes can be responsible for the condition (1).
Research has shown that dandruff can appear more in winter rather than in the summer due to low humidity (2). Low humidity can cause your skin to dry, leading to accelerated flaking, irritation and other symptoms of dandruff.
3. Hair products
You can also end up with this scalp condition if you shampoo your hair too often. This can occur especially if your scalp is sensitive to hair products, so be mindful of that.
4. Dry skin
Individuals with issues of dry skin can most likely end up with dandruff. Dryness of skin can be natural, and it can be consequent of the products used on your skin. In fact, dry skin remains the most common cause of accelerated skin flaking noticed in dandruff.
5. Skin conditions
Some skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis can also be linked to causing dandruff (4). Also, anyone who has Seborrheic dermatitis, a common skin disease that looks similar to psoriasis, eczema or an allergic reaction, can end up with dandruff. The symptoms include yellow or flaky-white scales formation, greasiness and redness of the skin.
Dandruff vs. flaky, dry scalp
There are many causes of a flaky scalp, but the main reason is seborrheic dermatitis, also known as dandruff. Dandruff doesn’t come from the scalp being dry though, as most people commonly think. Instead, it comes from an overreaction to yeast commonly found on the skin, which leads to an overproduction of oils. This causes irritation, and the creation of oily, waxy flakes. Doctors aren’t sure why it happens to some people, but not to others (5).
Home remedies for dandruff and itchy scalp
The purpose of treatment is to slow down the rate of skin cell production or counter yeast production. The strategy can be determined by the severity of the condition and the age of the individual – be that as it may, dandruff cannot be cured. Here are some home remedies that you can take on to lessen dandruff and dry scalp and keep your hair flake-free for longer:
1. Use the right dandruff-fighting shampoo
When washing your hair with specific dandruff ridding shampoo, lather your hair twice and leave the second lather for longer on the hair. Wash off the lather after about five minutes. The severity of the condition can determine how often you use the shampoo and how long you keep the second lather on your scalp.
2. Tea tree oil
Another effective home remedy to get rid of dandruff is to add five percent tea tree oil to your shampoo, mix them and use that mixture ton your scalp (3).
3. Baking soda
Rub a handful of baking soda into your scalp after wetting the hair. The baking soda can reduce fungal over activity which can be linked as one of the causes of the condition.
4. Apple cider vinegar
It's said that apple cider vinegar is useful for treating dandruff since its acidity changes the scalp’s pH and reduces the viability of yeasts on the scalp.
Here's a simple recipe submitted by Good Zing Expert and Holistic Nutritional Counsellor, Barbara Faibish: "Make a solution of 50/50 apple cider vinegar (organic unpasteurised is best) and water. Pour over your hair and massage into the scalp. Leave for 10-15 minutes. Rinse off with water. Repeat for a week. This is one powerful natural product that can help you get rid of dandruff at home fast."
After washing the hair using shampoo, you can then apply alcohol-based mouthwash. Then, you can continue applying your regular conditioner. Mouthwash is effective due to its anti-fungal properties.
Other effective natural ways to remove dandruff and dry scalp
• Coconut oil
• Aloe vera
• Olive oil
The problem with dandruff, really, is aesthetic – it is not medically serious. And no, it will not cause baldness, is not contagious, cannot be spread from one person to another, doesn't last forever, slows with age, and rarely leads to hair follicle infection. What's noticeable, however, is that some say that dandruff can be controlled with stress reduction and exposure to sunlight! So which tip will you try to rid yourself of dandruff?
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1. NCBI: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4852869/
2-3. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology: http://www.jaad.org/article/S0190-9622(02)00313-4/abstract
4. NHS: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/dandruff/
5. Science Direct: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022202X15526572