Dandruff represents the desquamation of the scalp skin (the scalp skin flakes off). Everyone has a certain degree of desquamation from the scalp level due to the normal process of removing and renewal of the external skin layer cells.
What Is Dandruff?
Dandruff has to do with the renewal of the scalp cells and is caused by a fungus called Malassezia Oval (formerly known as Pityrosporum ovale). This organism is naturally found on the scalp, but in some cases there is an excessive multiplication of this fungus. Thus, by its action, Malassezia determines an excess of epidermal peeling of the scalp and it also irritates it. Approximately 50% of people face this condition at some point in their lives. A healthy scalp removes dead cells and at the same time produces new ones at a steady rate. The grouping of several dead cells form dandruff.
There are two types of dandruff:
- Dry dandruff – caused by an acceleration of the scalp cell regeneration, it is dry, very smooth and easily comes off;
- Fatty dandruff – caused by an excess of sebum, it is found in patients with oily hair and is easily recognizable because it is yellow and “glued” to the scalp.
In addition to the fungus Malassezia Oval, there are a number of factors which are considered causes of dandruff. Thus, hormonal imbalances, an incorect nutritional regime and stress can also cause the appearance of dandruff. Also, intolerance to a hair care product (whether it is shampoo, conditioner, styling products or dye) or temperature change may favor the appearance of dandruff. Sometimes food deficiencies such as zinc deficiency can lead to the formation of dandruff. Therefore many shampoos use zinc derivates. However, the positive effects of these shampoos are amplified if we have a diet rich in zinc, being often even more effective than external treatments which might not be absorbed very well. Drastic diets can cause an imbalance in the organism, dandruff is one of the ways the body warns us that something is wrong.
Treatment against dandruff varies according to its abundance and the causes that led to its appearance. There are many products, that can be obtained withoutprescription, available to treat dandruff. Anti-dandruff shampoos can treat the problem successfully, because they contain active ingredients such as zinc pyrithione, ketoconazole or climbazole. Wash your head regularly whilst massaging it in a slow and gentle movement. This will activate blood circulation to the scalp and exfoliate dead cells from the surface.
Also, applying hydrocortisone creams or solutions and ketoconazole creams can help relieve dandruff. You must however take into account several factors. For example, washing too often with a hair shampoo designed for oily hair can only worsen the situation because it excites the sebaceous glands, causing them to secrete even more sebum. It is indicated for these conditions to alternate shampoos designed for oily hair with some softer types of shampoos. Also, people who have dry hair should avoid washing it too often during winter. Sometimes dandruff might be a symptom of a far more serious disease. If dandruff persists or if you have high portions of skin peeling off, redness and peeling around the nose, ears or chest, it can be a severe form of dandruff or even scalp psoriasis. If the dandruff particles are yellow and have a fatty consistency then it could be seborrheic dermatitis. In these cases you should urgently consult a dermatologist.
The scalp should be taken care of by adopting a healthy diet and using delicate shampoos. It is not advisable to dye your hair or get a permanent wave whilst using the anti-dandruff treatment. Chemical elements found in the composition of these products will further irritate the scalp. When you dry your hair, you should make sure that the air is not too hot. The best is however to leave your hair to dry freely. If you doubt the seriousness of disease, ask your doctor or dermatologist.