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.
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.