We’re all familiar with those pesky white flakes that suddenly appear on our shoulders. Dandruff is a common, chronic condition affecting both men and women of all hair types – though it’s slightly more likely to affect men. It’s not contagious. While it’s easy to blame dry skin or not washing your hair enough, the actual causes are more complex. Keep reading to find out the real reason dandruff occurs and how to say farewell to the flakes!
What is Dandruff?
While most people think the problem is a dry scalp, the opposite is true. As it turns out, flakes of dandruff are made up of skin from the scalp, which is usually the result of seborrheic dermatitis. This is a skin condition or irritation which causes the scalp to produce too much oil, which leads to shedding off flakes of waxy, oily skin. Unfortunately, it’s not currently known why some people tend to get dandruff and others don’t. It tends to start at puberty, and usually subsides by the age of 50.
Types of Dandruff and Causes
Several different things can cause seborrheic dermatitis. Firstly, the skin might have an adverse reaction to a particular kind of harmless yeast that lives on everyone’s skin. Secondly, other skin conditions, like psoriasis and eczema, can cause dandruff. There is also a type of fungal infection that can cause it. Haircare products can make a flaky scalp much worse – mainly if they contain protein and silicone. Lifestyle factors like stress, poor diet, or taking certain medications can also contribute to dandruff, while many sufferers notice the symptoms getting worse with age. However, this is not due to an overproduction of oil; it’s because our skin naturally loses moisture as we get older, leading to scalp dryness and flaking skin.
How Long Does it Take to Get Rid of Dandruff?
The good news is that you can substantially reduce the amount of dandruff you get, to the point where it’s undetectable. The bad news is that while you may get your dandruff under control, it can’t be cured. You’ll need to be consistent with your treatment and keep it up for the long term. When it comes to treating dandruff, the time it takes to reduce the symptoms depends on what is causing the condition. Medicated shampoos, if used daily, take about a month to sort out the problem. They do this by targeting fungal or yeast causes with active ingredients, or by slowing the growth of your scalp skin cells.
How to Get Rid of Dandruff Fast
You can remove white flakes in a flash using a simple, targeted method – no washing required. Firstly, look in the mirror and determine where your dandruff is visible. Next, sprinkle some dry shampoo (or, in a pinch, baby powder) on top of any dandruff areas you can see. Don’t use too much though, especially if your hair is dark, as it can leave a white residue. Finally, take a fine-toothed comb and carefully comb away dandruff. The dry shampoo will make your hair follicles slippery, meaning the skin flakes won’t cling to your strands. Rinse and dry the comb each time you pass it through your hair.
How to Get Rid of Dandruff Naturally
There are plenty of natural remedies for fighting dandruff. Rubbing a little tea tree oil into your scalp can be very effective as it has been scientifically shown to fight the fungus that causes the condition. If you have sensitive skin, combine a few drops of tea tree oil with a few teaspoons of soothing coconut oil, then apply the mixture. Coconut oil on its own is a known treatment for eczema, so if you have this skin condition, it could help treat your dandruff. Some swear by aloe vera as a dandruff solution; this is another soothing natural product with anti-fungal properties. You could also try mixing a teaspoon each of fresh lemon juice and apple cider vinegar with three teaspoons of water and a few pinches of salt. Rub this into your scalp while your hair is dry, then wash it as usual.
How to Get Rid of Severe Dandruff
A very flaky, irritated scalp requires prescription-strength shampoo and conditioner to treat. Look for selenium sulfide on the ingredient list. This chemical compound reduces itching, redness and flaking caused by seborrheic dermatitis. Ketoconazole is another active ingredient in many strong anti-dandruff shampoos. It’s a key treatment for fungal infections. If regular use of these products doesn’t help, it’s time to consult an expert. Book an appointment with a dermatologist to determine the underlying cause of your dandruff.
How to Get Rid of Eyebrow Dandruff
Getting dandruff somewhere other than your head – like your eyebrows, beard, ears or chest – is usually a sign of seborrheic dermatitis. You can treat it the same way as dandruff on your head. Use your anti-dandruff shampoo as a face wash. Lather a small amount on your eyebrows and leave it to work for a few minutes before rinsing off. If you have particularly red and irritated skin, rub in some coconut oil before you use shampoo.
Best Anti-Dandruff Shampoos
There are many anti-dandruff shampoos on the market. Some contain active ingredients like ketoconazole and coal tar which kill fungus and yeast in the scalp. Others contain selenium sulfide or zinc pyrithione, which are anti-inflammatory and reduce harmful bacteria. Additionally, salicylic acid may also be included to exfoliate the scalp. Additional soothing ingredients like coconut oil and tea tree oil will help get rid of your flakes the natural way.
How to Get Rid of Dandruff Tips
- Medicated Shampoo: Use anti-dandruff shampoos regularly to control dandruff long-term.
- Natural remedies: Tea tree oil, coconut oil, aloe vera, and apple cider can be used to treat dandruff.
- Nutrition: Regulate your body’s oil production and reduce inflammation by taking omega-3 supplements and probiotics.
- Reduce stress: Stress can contribute to or trigger dandruff, so make sure you reduce it.
Should I wash my hair every day if I have dandruff?
Dandruff is a condition that affects men and women of all hair types, and it can have a dramatic effect on an individual's confidence. Mild cases of dandruff can be treated with a shampoo designed to tackle the condition, which should be used twice a week. You can shampoo your hair daily, swapping your normal shampoo for the dandruff one on these two occasions. It has been found that not shampooing enough can make dandruff worse.
Does hot water cause dandruff?
Hot water dries your scalp and strips it from its natural oils, which could cause irritation. It is also the perfect environment for the dandruff dandruff-causing fungus, Malassezia.
Is Dandruff a fungal or bacterial infection?
Dandruff is a condition made up of skin from the scalp, often caused by usually seborrheic dermatitis. It often causes irritation and causes the scalp to produce too much oil, resulting in unpleasant white flakes. It can also be triggered by a fungus called Malassezia. Lifestyle factors and some hair care products containing protein and silicone have also been found to make your flaky scalp much worse.
Does dandruff mean your hair is growing?
Dandruff can affect hair growth, not in terms of growth rate but of how healthy your hair will be. Your hair may be more prone to breakage and have less protein than hair growth from a healthy scalp.
Arabella Roden is a skilled writer and sub-editor with over ten years of experience across print, digital, and B2B. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism and specializes in beauty, hairstyles, fashion, tattoos, and lifestyle topics. Arabella is currently the Chief Sub Editor at Mecca Brands and has been writing for The Trend Spotter since 2019.
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