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Today in Health & Wellness


Risk Factors
Commonly Prescribed Drugs
Home Remedies
Doctors to Consult

Dandruff is characterized by flaking of the skin on your scalp. While harmless, dandruff can be embarrassing and itchy.

It is a common skin condition that affects not just the scalp but also the ears, beard, eyebrows and less commonly, the hair-bearing part of the chest.

Skin cells on the top layer of the skin are always renewing itself. When the skin cells in the scalp are renewed, the old and dead ones are literally expelled when it is pushed to the surface, out of the scalp. When you have dandruff, the new cells are produced at a much faster rate, resulting in more dead skin being shed, making dandruff more noticeable.

A common misconception about dandruff is that it is directly related to dry scalp so some people compensate by taking less shower or not shampooing their hair. This belief is untrue. Even an overly oily scalp can cause excess cells to shed and form dandruff flakes. Dandruff is also not contagious.

  • Dry, itchy scalp
  • Appearance of white flakes of skin on the scalp and hair
  • Head may feel tingly or sore
  • Red, flaky, greasy patches of skin (in cases of seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp in adults)
  • Crusting and scaling rash on scalp (in cases of seborrheic dermatitis or cradle cap in babies)
Risk Factors
  • Dry Skin is the most common cause of dandruff. Although dry scalp also produces dandruff flakes, the flakes are not oily.
  • Irritated, oily skin (Seborrheic dermatitis) is one of the most common causes of dandruff. It is characterized by red, greasy skin covered with flaky white or yellow scales. Aside from the scalp, it may affect other areas rich in oil glands such as your eyebrows, sides of your nose, back of the ears, groin area and sometimes your armpits.
  • Not shampooing often enough.Some people who think that dryness is the main cause of dandruff make a mistake of washing the hair less often or forgoing shampoo. If you do not wash your hair regularly, oils and skin cells in your scalp can build up, causing more dandruff.
  • Malassezia is a fungus that lives on the scalp. It usually does not cause any problems at all but it can grow out of control. It feeds on the oils the hair follicles secrete. When this happens, the scalp can become irritated and produce extra skin cells. The extra skin cells die and fall off, turning them into what we know as dandruff.
  • Reaction to hair or skin care product Some people are sensitive to certain ingredients found in hair or skin care products such as paraphenylenediamine, which can cause a red, itchy, scaly scalp. Shampooing too often or using too many styling products may also irritate the scalp and can cause dandruff.
  • Other conditions. Skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis may appear to have dandruff. People with weakened immune system and other neurological illness such as Parkinson's disease and patients with cancer or are recovering from heart attacks and strokes are more prone to having dandruff than any other people.
  • Stress. People under stress tend to have an impaired immune system which makes them more prone to dandruff.
Commonly Prescribed Drugs

Here are some over-the-counter products that can help you with dandruff:

Shampoos - Look for these dandruff-fighting ingredients on your shampoo:

  • Zinc pyrithione slows down yeast production.
  • Selenium sulphide slows down skin cells death and may also reduce Malassezia. Use with caution as it can discolor chemically colored hair and rinse well after shampooing.
  • Ketoconazole is a broad-spectrum antifungal and can be used by both young and adults.


  • Salicylic acids help your scalp get rid of skin cells. However, it may leave the scalp dry which eventually worsens the flaking of the skin, uses with caution.
  • Coal Tar - like selenium sulphide, it slows down how skin cells die and flake off. It is helpful in conditions of dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis, and psoriasis.


  • Corticosteroid creams are available as scalp lotions. It is applied once a day, preferably on damp hair after shampooing to reduce inflammation. It can also be used together with medicated shampoos.
  • Antifungal creams such as clotrimazole and miconazole, are effective in reducing the number of yeast organisms living on the skin. It is applied once or twice a day.
Treatment and Management
Home Remedies
  • Vinegar rinse. Vinegar, preferably apple cider vinegar acts as a fungicide. Its acidity changes the pH of your scalp to prevent the growth of yeast. Mix half a cup of apple cider or white vinegar with half a cup of warm water. Pour the mixture over your hair and massage gently for several minutes. Rinse thoroughly with water. Repeat this once or twice a week.
  • Mouthwash. An alcohol-based mouthwash has anti-fungal properties which are useful against dandruff. Mix 2 parts water with 1 part mouthwash. Spray or pour the solution onto your scalp after you shampoo. Leave for 30 minutes before rinsing with water.
  • Baking soda. Your all-around ingredient is also useful in treating dandruff. Baking soda mildly exfoliates scalp to get rid of excess dead skin cells and kills common fungus on the scalp. Apply on wet hair and massage on the scalp and rinse thoroughly after.
  • Lemon. Massage 2 tablespoons of lemon juice into your scalp and rinse with water. Lemon?s acidity also helps balance the pH of the scalp, keeping dandruff at bay.
  • Aloe vera has a cooling effect which can soothe an itchy scalp. Aside from its cooling properties, it also inhibits skin cells from growing and dying rapidly
Doctors to Consult
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