Right from the start we like to urge you not to be embarrassed about having dandruff. Half of all human beings have dandruff problems at one time or another. As a matter of fact, the dandruff formation is a rather normal and healthy process. Our skin keeps regenerating itself. In the process, old cells die after a life cycle of about 28 days and make room for new cells. Since cells are too small to be visible with the naked eye, we are normally not aware of this process.
Shampooing takes care of the shed cells. The cells only become visible when the scalp produces an excess of horn cells. This does not necessarily have anything to do with a dry scalp. People with oily hair may also suffer from dandruff. Our hair expert Dr. Edo Hoting will bring you up to date on the newest in dandruff research.
Schwarzkopf: Every person has dandruff because the scalp constantly renews itself. Why do some people shed visible amounts of dandruff?
Dr. Hoting: The scalp of all people is populated by a certain yeast-like fungus (Pityrosporon ovale). When the fungus exists on the skin in excessive numbers the fungal metabolic products irritate the scalp, which then responds with increased dandruff production. The dandruff formation also depends on individual factors, age and climate. Too little exposure to light, in particular to UV light in winter, promotes the dandruff production. The hair care routine also plays a role. The dandruff formation becomes conspicuous if the hair is not washed often enough.
SK: When does dandruff make it necessary to visit the dermatologist?
DH: The scalp may be inflamed when the shedding of dandruff is accompanied by itchy irritated skin. Certain skin diseases such as eczema or psoriasis may cause increased dandruff formation. In such cases, you should seek the advice of a dermatologist.
SK: Do dandruff and an itchy scalp always go together?
DH: No, they don’t. Moderate dandruff formation always occurs without further symptoms. Only heavy dandruff formation can also lead to itchy skin.
SK: Can frequent shampooing or hard limy water promote the dandruff formation?
DH: The climate and other environmental conditions can influence the dandruff formation. Dry heated air and too little sunshine in winter promote the dandruff formation. Excessive blow-drying at high heat settings can also dry out the scalp and lead to conspicuous dandruff formation. However, the water quality and in particular the lime content of the water have no influence. In contrast to soap, modern shampoos clean and condition very well in the presence of limy water. Dandruff formation without any further bothersome symptoms is not a disease and can be treated with long-term success using suitable cosmetic procedures and dandruff shampoos.
SK: Can somebody with an oily scalp still have dandruff?
DH: Yes, that is possible. In the presence of very active sebaceous glands, the sebum causes the dandruff cells to stick together but they are still there.
SK: Is it necessary to keep on using dandruff shampoo once a person has had dandruff problems?
DH: No, with the proper hair care, dandruff is readily cured for the duration. It is not necessary to switch to dandruff shampoo for life. Whenever a person notices dandruff it can be reliably treated with very effective dandruff shampoos. Several active agents against dandruff are available. Zinc pyrithione for example fights the fungal overgrowth on the scalp and reduces excessive dandruff formation in the process.
SK: Are dandruff shampoos hard on the hair?
DH: No, there is no reason to be concerned about the regular use of dandruff shampoo. It is alright to leave the dandruff shampoo on the scalp a little longer (about two minutes). This gives the active ingredients more time to act. I also recommend frequent shampooing to remove all loose dandruff. Hair tonics complement the use of dandruff shampoo and optimize the results. Leave-in hair tonics are also very effective in fighting dandruff.
What you can do against dandruff:
- Avoid any scalp irritation, which may be caused by washing your hair with very hot water, forceful rubbing with a towel, the use of hard brushes or blow-drying on high heat settings
- Once you have noticed dandruff, avoid additional irritation of the scalp due to hair colouring, straightening or perming
- If your hair is dry and stressed dandruff shampoos may dry it out more. You should therefore use a rinse or cure after each shampoo
- Unhealthy eating habits and/or continued stress by themselves do not lead to dandruff but may quite conceivably exacerbate the condition