Don't be embarrassed about having dandruff. Approximately half of all human beings suffer from an itchy scalp and dandruff problems at one time or another. As a matter of fact, dandruff formation is a rather normal and healthy process. It's caused by the fact that our skin keeps regenerating itself. When this happens, 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.
Get the facts on how to get rid of dandruff
Below, hair expert Dr. Edo Hoting will answer all questions relating to what causes dandruff, dandruff treatment, how to get rid of dandruff, as well as update us on the latest 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: Everyone's scalp contains a certain yeast-like fungus (Pityrosporon ovale). When the fungus exists on the skin in excessive amounts, 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, for example, in particular to UV light in winter, promotes higher amounts of dandruff production. The hair care routine also plays a role. 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 frequently uses of shampoo or hard limy water promote the dandruff formation?
DH: The climate and other environmental conditions can influence dandruff formation. Dry heated air and too little sunshine in winter promote 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 – the oil that your hair naturally produces - 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, thus proving to be an effective remedy when seeking how to get rid of dandruff.
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 dandruff shampoo on the scalp a little longer than usual shampoo (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 when you're thinking of how to get rid of dandruff.
How to prevent 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 coloring, straightening or perming
- If your hair is dry and stressed, concetrated dandruff remedies may dry it out even further. You should therefore always rinse after each shampoo and follow basic hair care tips
- Unhealthy eating habits and/or continued stress by themselves do not lead to dandruff but may quite conceivably exacerbate the condition
- Do not scratch your scalp, no matter how much you may be tempted by the persistent itch. Shampoos or hair tonics with the active ingredient Polidocanol suppress the itching. Pure aloe vera gel has a cooling effect and may also reduce the itch without adding oil to the scalp