Dandruff is a common type of skin condition whereby simple scaling of the skin on the scalp causes white itchy flakes to form on the scalp and to be visible in the hair and on the shoulders. The skin is in a constant state of renewal, shedding dead cells as new cells form beneath them. With dandruff, the cells of the scalp shed in clumps, so are more visible to the eye. Although the condition is not infectious or serious, its appearance can be embarrassing.
About 50 per cent of the population suffers from dandruff at some point in their life, and it can occur in both children and adults. It is not known what exactly causes the abnormal overproduction and shedding of dead skin cells. However things that may increase the likelihood of it occurring include illness, allergies or stress; a weakened immune system; infrequent shampooing resulting in a build-up of oils and skin cells; and dry skin.
Regular washing of the scalp with medicated soaps may be all that is required to relieve an itching scalp. The most common anti-dandruff shampoos contain one or more of zinc pyrithione or zinc omadine, selenium sulphide, piroctone olamine, antifungal agents or tars. Ego Hairscience Shampoo for Dandruff and Head and Shoulders Daily Scalp Shampoo are two anti-dandruff products available.
How often you need to use medicated shampoos will depend on how severe your dandruff is and what treatment you are using. Always read the directions on the shampoo pack before using it. Some products are mild enough to be used every day, such as Selsun Blue Antidandruff Shampoo, while others should only be used once a week, such as Selsun Treatment. Over time, you will work out how often to use the shampoo to keep your dandruff under control.
Typically, those with a scaly scalp should be shampooing every day. Infrequent shampooing may result in scale build-up and thus make symptoms worse. A conditioner may be used to prevent excessive drying from frequent washing. Matching antidandruff conditioners increase the effect of the shampoo by five to 10 per cent while unmatched conditioners may inactivate the shampoo. Neutrogena T-Gel Daily Control 2 in 1 Dandruff Shampoo Plus Conditioner contains both a shampoo and conditioner in the single product to offer relief. In general, it takes five to 10 washes to clear up dandruff.
Other preventative measures that can be used is to limit the use of styling products that may increase oiliness or irritate the scalp. For dry scalps, a leave in conditioner or deep conditioning treatment may be useful. Relaxation techniques can also be practiced to help manage stress. Finally, massaging the scalp for a few minutes each day to loosen flakes before brushing hair can help.