White dandruff flakes that show up on dark clothing can be both annoying and embarrassing, but approximately half of all people suffer from an itchy scalp and dandruff problems at one time or another. The problem typically starts around puberty and begins to subside around the age of 50. Luckily, there’s a way to rid your locks of these invaders. We explain what dandruff is, why it occurs, and how to get rid of dandruff.
What is dandruff and why do we get it?
Dandruff formation is actually a normal and healthy process, 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 to the naked eye, we are normally not aware of this process.
Some people produce more dandruff than others and this 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. Your hair care routine also plays a role. Dandruff can start to form if you don’t wash your hair often enough. And excessive blow-drying at high heat settings can also dry out the scalp and lead to dandruff forming.
If dandruff is accompanied by itchy irritated skin, this could mean that your scalp is inflamed. Certain skin diseases such as eczema or psoriasis may cause increased dandruff formation. In such cases, you should seek the advice of a dermatologist.
How to get rid of dandruff
Start shampooing more often! You’re definitely spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing an anti-dandruff shampoo. Products with pyrithione zinc are popular for treating dandruff because they contain anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. Tar-based shampoos also work wonders since tar slows down the rate at which skin cells die and flake off. Salicylic acid shampoos help to eliminate scale and breaks down dead skin cells. The opportunities are endless – just try out different shampoos to see which works best for you and gets rid of dandruff. It’s also a good idea to keep switching your shampoo to keep the flakes away. Make sure you read and follow the directions on each bottle you try. Some products need to be left on for a few minutes, while others should be rinsed off quickly.
How to prevent dandruff forming in the first place
If you follow these tips on how to stop dandruff forming, you will hopefully never need to consider researching which anti-dandruff shampoo to buy. Prevention is better than cure, as they say…
- Avoid any scalp irritation, which may be caused by washing your hair with very hot water, forceful rubbing with a towel, using hard brushes, or blow-drying on high heat settings
- Once you have noticed you have dandruff, avoid irritating your scalp even further, for example, by straightening, perming, or coloring your hair.
- If your hair is dry and stressed, concentrated 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 can suppress the itching. Pure aloe vera gel has a cooling effect and may help reduce the itch without you needing to add oil to the scalp.