Regardless of Hair Type or Texture, many of us have had experience with dandruff at some point along our Hair Journey.
But what is it and how can it be treated and/or prevented?
We asked noted Skin Doctor Dr. Tracey Durant of The Caribbean Dermatology & Laser Centre to give us a breakdown of Dandruff and the importance of maintaining a healthy scalp.
What is Dandruff?
“Dandruff can be thought of as dryness of the scalp which may result in flaking and itching.” Dr. Durant said, she continued “There are a number of causes of dandruff, most commonly:
– Dry skin
– Irritation from hair products, Contact Dermatitis – a rash that crops up on your skin when you touch or have a reaction to a certain substance(s)
– Seborrheic Dermatitis – an inflammation of the upper layers of skin, characterized by red, itchy skin that sheds scales
– Psoriasis – marked by thick darker skin and silvery scales, psoriasis patches can range from a few spots of dandruff-like scaling to major eruptions that cover large areas. The most commonly affected areas are the lower back, elbows, knees, legs, soles of the feet, scalp, face and palms.
-Fungal Infection (ring worm) – a rash caused by a fungal infection. It usually causes itchy, scaly, bald patches on the head. Ringworm of the scalp is a contagious infection most common in toddlers and school-aged children.
Although it can be a nuisance, and sometimes embarrassing, dandruff is not dangerous and, dependent on the severity, can sometimes be managed at home with over-the-counter medication and medicated hair products, said Dr. Durant “This is the case especially when the cause of the dandruff is simply dry skin.”
At Home TREATMENTS FOR DANDRUFF
Over the counter products which may be helpful include shampoos or creams containing the following ingredients:
· Ketoconazole an antifungal ingredient that is suitable for any age.
· Selenium sulfide helps manage dandruff by controlling the rate of shedding of skin cells and removing buildup of oil from the scalp’s surface. It also has antifungal properties.
· Pyrithione Zinc slows down the growth of yeast.
· Coal tar is a natural anti-inflammatory and antifungal agent and can reduce excess skin cell production. During long-term use, coal tar may stain dyed or treated hair. It may also increase the scalp’s sensitivity to sunlight, so users should wear a hat when outside.
· Salicylic acid helps remove excess skin cells.
· Tea-tree oil is present in many shampoos. It has antifungal and properties. Do a patch test first, as some people experience sensitivity
“It is important to note that these products are for the scalp and NOT FOR THE HAIR.” Dr. Durant cautioned. It is therefore still necessary to continue with your regimen of Moisturizing Shampoo and Conditioner, as well as moisturizing products for your hair.
When Is It Too Much
Dandruff which is worsening and difficult to control with over-the-counter products is more likely due to one of the underlying scalp conditions previously mentioned.
However, there are instances where medical intervention will be required to treat the condition.
Signs that you should seek the care of a physician include:
-Excessive flaking sometimes associated with pink, light or dark discoloration of your scalp or hairline
-Excessive scratching due to uncontrollable itch
-Soreness of your scalp
-Associated thinning of the hair
-The presence of bumps or pustules on your scalp.
Regardless of your level of severity, you should consult with your family physician or a dermatologist to receive a proper diagnosis and instruction about a path of treatment.