Dandruff is an extremely common condition where the skin on the scalp becomes dry and comes off, thus forming white flakes of skin. Although it is not a serious condition at all, it is a less serious version of seborrheic dermatitis.
Dandruff can be easily treated and is not at all infectious. If you have been noticing white flakes on your pillows after you wake up or visible white skin cells on your scalp at all times, don't be embarrassed.
A condition that mostly affects the scalp, dandruff is a mild form of seborrheic dermatitis. It results in mild itchiness in the scarf and the flaking of the skin cells. Dandruff can easily be identified by the oily clumps of the skin or grayish flakes on your clothes and hair caused by dead skin cells.
Although the cause of this condition is unclear, it mostly results from genetic or environmental factors. It can result from some underlying conditions in the scalp, including psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis, and, in some cases, an excess amount of the fungi Malassezia. It is not hazardous to your health.
The early signs of dandruff can be first seen at the time of puberty, and the condition may diminish in intensity with age. Seborrheic dermatitis is more severe form of dandruff that results in inflammation of the skin. However, it is not very commonly seen.
Causes of Dandruff
Malassezia is a skin fungus that lives on every scalp. It doesn't matter what kind of scalp you have- a scalp with dandruff or one without.
Malassezia fungus breaks down the skin barrier in some people's scalps, resulting in a by-product called oleic acid. This acid reacts with the skin and gives rise to inflammations. This, in turn, causes the scalp skin cells to flake off and form clumps.
Malassezia fungi themselves do not cause dandruff in scalps. However, being sensitive to the fungus can result in dandruff.
Excess Sebum Production
Dandruff is related to seborrheic dermatitis, which is a skin condition. However, it is considered to be a less severe version of the issue. Seborrheic dermatitis is related to sebum or oil production of the skin and can affect any part of the body, including the face and the chest.
The sebum production in any individual increases during their puberty till their twenties and decreases anywhere between 30-60 years of age. Being related to seborrheic dermatitis, dandruff too follows the same pattern and upholds this relationship between its increase and sebum production in the body.
Malassezia thrives on the scalp's oil quantity. Having oily skin means more sebum production, and this means the fungi have found the best place to live. However, it must be noted that not all people with oily skin have this condition, while people suffering from dandruff might have a normal amount of oil production.
Compromise in Skin Barrier
The outermost layer of skin in the human scalp is imperative in preventing moisture loss and the entry of germs. Also known as the scalp skin barrier, it shows a disruption in people having dandruff. The disruption in this layer might give rise to excess dandruff on the scalp or the aggravation of the Malassezia fungi.
Existing Neurological Conditions
People with neurological conditions including Parkinson's disease or a traumatic brain injury are known to have more dandruff than others without these conditions. This might result from the change in sebum production or the alterations in nerve functions, both of which can increase the rate of dandruff on the scalp.
Emotional Stress and Low Immunity
Stress always has an adverse effect on the human body, and it has been seen to worsen scalp conditions in people. People with low immunity might also have a very high chance of getting dandruff affected. Patients with HIV/AIDS are also at a higher risk of having this skin condition.
Although conclusive studies are lacking in this sphere, genetics might have a connection to dandruff in humans. Even if it is not entirely genetics that causes dandruff in humans, it might be a combination of both genetics and environmental factors.
Although mostly identifiable through the obvious white or gray dust-like skin cells found on the scalp, dandruff can also be identified through other symptoms. Read on if you want to know what those are.
These are the most commonly noticed symptoms of dandruff. Formed as a reaction of your scalp cells against oleic acid, these are the scalp skin cells that are shed. These skin cells accumulate into clumps. They are visible as white or gray and sometimes reddish flakes of dandruff. Too much of them, and you can find residues on your shoulders and pillows.
This is one of the most annoying symptoms of dandruff. Itchiness results from the accumulation of dead skin cells, which eventually get mixed with the oil or the sebum produced. If not washed off and taken care of, this condition might aggravate and result in severe irritation.
Out of all the negative impacts of having dandruff, dryness is another addition. When a scalp has dandruff, the essential scalp skin barrier is broken down due to the function of the Malassezia fungus. This skin barrier, which was crucial to preserve the water content of the scalp to prevent it from drying up, is no longer there. Hence, the scalp dries up extremely quickly. Due to the lack of protective covering, the natural oils of the scalp which previously prevented it from drying up evaporate, leaving your scalp dehydrated and dry.
Although it is not always very common and mostly happens in the most severe cases, too much drying up can result in itching and irritation of the skin. Continuous scratching of the scalp can also increase the redness of the skin.
For a problem that afflicts around 50% of the world's population, there are a lot of solutions available. I have listed some of the most effective ones below.
Determine The Kind Of Dandruff You Have
Dandruff is generally of two types- oily and dry. In those scalps where dandruff is formed by the overproduction of sebum or oil, regular use of shampoos is a must.
However, refrain from treating your scalp with any kind of anti-dandruff shampoos because they have an excess of paraben, sulfates, and other chemicals which might prove highly detrimental to your scalp.
Instead, for oily dandruff, shampoos with ketoconazole or zinc pyrithione work wonders. On the other hand, shampooing your hair with shampoos will dehydrate an already dry scalp if your dandruff is dry in nature. In these cases, shampoos containing tea tree oil, eucalyptus, castor oil, or coconut oil both rehydrate and clean the dandruff present in your hair.
Massage Your Scalp With Oil
In the case of dry dandruff, oiling is one of the essential procedures to undertake. One of the best oils to use in this case is the ever-humble coconut oil. Coconut oil has natural anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties that combat the excess fungal and bacterial growth on your scalp. At the same time, it also helps to renourish your dried scalp and reduce the flakiness of your scalp skin barrier. Other natural oils like the Wow 10-in-1 Hair Oil or the Wow Moroccan Argan Hair Oil are also great options when you need to oil your scalp.
Use Aloe Vera
Products rich in aloe vera extracts like serums, oils, and conditioners are highly beneficial for dandruff-affected scalps. Aloe vera cools down any sort of inflammation in your scalp. At the same time, it also rehydrates your skin, thus nourishing it from within.
Cover Your Head
Instead of exposing your hair and scalp to the harsh weather conditions, putting on a hat, scarf, or headgear while heading out is always a great option. These headgears protect your head and prevent moisture and other natural oils of your skin from evaporating and thus leaving your scalp less dry. It also prevents excess oil from building up on your scalp. This prevents the formation of clumps and flakes of dead skin.
Strictly Avoid Scratching
If you think scratching will help remove all the extra dead cells, then you couldn't be more incorrect. When you scratch to remove clumps of dandruff from your scalp, you are also removing living skin cells along with it. This might result in bleeding, excessive itching, soreness, and redness of the scalp.
Most cosmetic and lifestyle products come with parabens, sulfates, and silicone. These are extremely harmful because these chemicals gradually build up in your scalp, eventually preventing all nourishment from reaching your hair follicles. They also trap moisture and leave your hair dehydrated. Hence, you must avoid products without sulfates, parabens, and silicone at all costs.
Eating healthy is the key to everything. Dandruff, too, gets affected by the kind of food you eat every day. Oily food might aggravate your skin condition and increase the rate of dandruff production on your scalp. To prevent this, you must cut down on the excess carbohydrates, fat, or dairy products. Keeping a conscious check on the food you ingest every day will help in improving your skin quality.
I have listed a few of the products that I feel work great on scalps suffering from dandruff.
Apple Cider Vinegar
According to a study, apple cider vinegar has been proved to combat the negative effects of the Malassezia fungus. The acidic properties of the apple cider vinegar also kill any bacteria that might be utilizing the oily scalp as a perfect environment to grow and multiply. Additionally, the sebum that is produced by the skin is naturally acidic. It helps to protect the hair follicles from drying out and also locks the additional moisture of your hair in.
If your hair is showing signs of excess hair loss and greasiness, it might be a sign that your scalp has become alkaline. Using apple cider vinegar returns your scalp to its naturally acidic state and protects the acidity of your sebum. The Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo from Wow Skin Science is the best product available on the market. It comes with the goodness of raw Himalayan apple cider vinegar and removes excess oil. It does not have any harmful chemicals, including parabens or sulfates, and rejuvenates the hair follicles.
Additionally, it also comes infused with argan oil, rosebay, and shea butter. These ingredients hydrate your hair and get rid of all the unwanted and excess oil in your scalp. Gently massaging the shampoo will increase blood circulation in your scalp and get rid of flaky dandruff, while the conditioner will enhance the natural shine of your hair. You can use this shampoo daily or according to your own preference, giving yourself the royal treatment you deserve.