Dandruff attacks are not serious concerns but they are very annoying. These are the times I get plenty of friendly shoulder taps. I know these are polite ways of shedding the whites off my shoulder. But receiving these from acquaintances is embarrassing. I feel awkward during office meetings. I can’t decide if I should sweep them off my clothes and let everyone notice the problem. Not doing so means people near me have to endure the sight of it for an hour or so.
So what is dandruff? It’s a condition of the scalp where excessive skin cells flake off. It often comes with itchiness, redness and inflammation. Many see this as a sign of poor hygiene habits and an overall lack of cleanliness. While I find it irritating, others suffer worse with lower self-confidence, decreased concentration, loss of sleep, and anxiety.
Some estimates put half of the global adult population as affected by dandruff. The cases range from mild to severe. Males are the unlucky ones who are likely to experience though there’s no explanation yet why this is so. Dandruff woes typically start at puberty then peaks at age of 20. By the age of 50, there’s a lot less chance of this happening again.
Causes of dandruff
So what causes this flaking problem? Dandruff is a symptom, not a diagnosis. It is associated with many factors. Dry skin, infrequent hair wash and stress are generally believed to be the common culprits. The expanded list of causes includes diet, fungi, and reaction to hair products.
The yeastlike fungus called Malasseziaglobosa feeds on oil found on the scalp. Some bodies are irritated by the process and react by faster skin regeneration. What normally takes 30 days is reduced to 2 to 7 days resulting in more dead skin cells to shed.
Allergy to hair products can cause dandruff too. Sprays and gels can trigger irritation. Again, the skin reacts by speeding up the renewal process.
Daily shampoo may be enough to solve mild dandruff cases. Massage lightly when washing your hair to loosen the flakes. If it doesn’t work, use over-the-counter dandruff shampoo. Opt for those with active ingredients such as ketoconazole, pyrithione zinc, salicylic acid, and selenium sulfide.
If after weeks of washing with your favourite shampoo is not giving positive results, time to go for prescription treatment. Consult your dermatologist about medicated shampoo, lotion or other treatment options.
If you are having negative reactions to chemical solutions, you can always resort to natural remedies. Coconut oil is known to have multiple benefits and dandruff relief is one of them. Massaging it on the scalp prevents the dryness that worsens dandruff. The oil also promotes antifungal traits.
Tea tree oil has long been used by aboriginal people of Australia to treat infections. Modern studies suggest that it can be used to fight certain types of microbes such as bacteria, virus and fungi. To control your dandruff, select herbal shampoos with 5% tea tree oil. If you happen to own a bottle, it must be diluted first before applying it to your scalp. You can mix it with aloe vera, coconut oil, or apple cider. Remember tea tree oil should not exceed 5%. That’s 5 ml for every 100 ml of substance.
Stress doesn’t cause dandruff, but it worsens dryness and itching. Prolonged high levels of stress negatively affect the immune system. This in turn lowers the body’s ability to fight fungal infection and other skin concerns that leads to dandruff problem. Manage your stress well and you get benefits beyond flakes fighting.
Some habit changes are inexpensive ways of managing the flakes problem. To begin, many cases can be avoided by more frequent hair wash. Hairstyling products can buildup on hair and scalp. Reducing their use can help give some relief.
You can also get some brief time under the sun. Sunshine discourages yeast production. Safety reminder. If you are using shampoo with coal tar as advised by your dermatologist, avoid the outdoors. Tar can stay on the skin for 24 hours or more, a period where the chance of sun damage is high.
I have long believed that hair loss is part of it. Strands scatter on my keyboard along with the white flakes. As I apply shampoo, pieces of hair always come off with my hands. Unfortunately, I learned too late that dandruff alone will not lead to hair loss. What I had were consequences of my excessive scratches on my itchy scalp. Follicles are damaged in the process and my hair will not grow back in these areas.
Even if you don’t scratch as hard as I do, you may still notice some hair fall. It’s because strands tend to break easily among people with dandruff. But this kind of hair loss is the gentle one. It will grow back again so no worries. The bad news comes with those already suffering androgenic alopecia, otherwise known as male-pattern baldness. Dandruff speeds up hair loss.
So if you’re like me who is no longer expecting hair regrowth, one way to hide reduced volume is through scalp micropigmentation (SMP). It’s a cosmetic hair tattoo where pigments used are matched to existing hair colour. It’s stippled across the damaged areas to mimic small hair. You can get the best SMP Melbourne has through interest-free financing. Consultations are free and can be done online.