Treat Dandruff the right way!

We have been seeing a lot of patients with dandruff lately. Dandruff is a common scalp condition that presents as flakiness of the scalp. Quite often it causes itching and pimple-like eruptions on the scalp which can be a cause of social embarrassment. It may also be the reason for your acne outbreaks, especially on the forehead and back. 

Here are some common questions asked by patients with flaky scalp.

1.  Is dandruff contagious?

Dandruff isn't contagious or harmful, but it can be unpleasant and difficult to get rid of.

2. What causes flaky scalp?

Flaking of scalp can have several causes, including:

  • Irritated, oily skin (Seborrheic dermatitis).  This condition, one of the most frequent causes of dandruff, is marked by red, greasy skin covered with flaky white or yellow scales. Seborrheic dermatitis may affect your scalp and other areas rich in oil glands, such as your eyebrows, the sides of your nose and the backs of your ears, your breastbone (sternum), your groin area, and sometimes your armpits.

  • Not shampooing often enough. If you don't regularly wash your hair, oils and skin cells from your scalp can build up, causing dandruff.

  • A yeastlike fungus (malassezia). Malassezia lives on the scalps of most adults. But, for some, it irritates the scalp and can cause more skin cells to grow.

    The extra skin cells die and fall off, making them appear white and flaky in your hair or on your clothes. Why malassezia irritates some scalps isn't known.

  • Dry skin. Flakes from dry skin are generally smaller and less oily than those from other causes of dandruff. And, redness or inflammation is unlikely. You'll probably have dry skin on other parts of the body, such as your legs and arms, too.

  • Sensitivity to hair care products (contact dermatitis). Sometimes sensitivities to certain ingredients in hair care products or hair dyes can cause a red, itchy, scaly scalp.

3. Is dandruff caused due to poor hygiene?

Many people believe that dandruff is caused by poor hygiene, but this is not true. Although infrequent shampooing can make dandruff more obvious, researchers are still studying the causes, which appear to be complex. You could be washing your hair every day and be totally well-groomed and still spot flakes from dandruff.

4. Is shampooing drying out my scalp and causing dandruff?

You may have a dry scalp that is being irritated by over-shampooing or by use of styling products. And this irritation may be the cause of flaking that looks like dandruff. A dry scalp is different from dandruff and may require different treatment.

5. What is the treatment for dandruff?

The main treatment for dandruff is anti-dandruff shampoo. 

Look for shampoo containing one of the following ingredients:

  • zinc pyrithione

  • salicylic acid

  • selenium sulphide (or selenium sulfide)

  • ketoconazole

  • coal tar

Make sure you read the instructions that come with the shampoo before using it to check if it's suitable for you and see how often it should be applied.  It's particularly important to leave the shampoo in your hair for at least five minutes before washing it out.

Try these shampoos for a month to see if your dandruff improves. You might need to try more than one type to find one that works for you. You may be able to use the shampoo less often once your symptoms improve, but your dandruff will probably come back if you stop using it completely.

This video shows the correct way of using anti-dandruff shampoo.

6. When should I see my dermatologist?

For most people, dandruff does not require medical attention. However, sometimes the flaking and itching that appears like dandruff is actually a medical condition, such as seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis, fungal infections of the scalp, or eczema.

If you continue to have symptoms after using a dandruff shampoo, consult a dermatologist. A dermatologist can properly diagnose your condition and recommend a treatment plan that best meets your needs.

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