By Shammi Mondal
From constantly brushing off the flakes from your shoulder to dealing with hair fall, dandruff can really be a recurring nightmare. It’s one of those conditions that almost feel more annoying than uncomfortable. Dandruff not only affects your scalp but also your overall hair health and can hinder your confidence, which is not something we want. So here is how you can fight off the flakes and the best shampoos to beat dandruff.
What is dandruff anyway?
Of course, you know dandruff looks like white flakes that unnecessarily cause trouble and itching on your scalp. Anatomically speaking, dandruff is often white or yellowish oily flakes that mostly is made up of dead skin cells and sebum. This is often aggravated by environmental stressors like pollution and product build-up.
Unlike its critical cousin seborrheic dermatitis, dandruff does not cause scalp inflammation or redness and often can be treated with a good anti-dandruff shampoo. Before you find ways to treat dandruff, it’s important to determine the reason why it is happening and then take some measures to combat it.
Understand your enemy
Let’s get you refreshed on the reasons that cause dandruff and what triggers it.
1. Fungal colonization on your scalp
No, it’s not as scary as it sounds. Malassezia furfur is a fungus that naturally exists on your skin and scalp, but when the fungus meets excessive oil and finds a habitable environment it grows out of control causing excessive turnover of skin cells on your scalp—aka dandruff.
2. Overactive sebaceous glands or an oily scalp
An oily scalp is one of the main reasons that cause dandruff. When your sebaceous gland oversecretes sebum or oil, it tends to become a breeding ground for fungus and acts like a magnet to environmental aggravators like dust and pollution. Add excess sun exposure to the mix and you've got more build-up on your scalp.
3. You’re not washing your scalp enough
Your hair mask could have left residue on your scalp, or your heat styling product could be clogging the pores of your scalp. If not cleansed well and on time, with a good anti-dandruff shampoo, it creates a traffic jam effect on your scalp that leads to more oil production and increased dandruff.
4. Blame it on the weather
While you may take a flight to go from a dry climate to a humid climate, your pores are still secreting more oil to keep up with the dry weather. And that when mixed with sweat caused by the humidity leads to the perfect environment for fungal growth and dandruff.
5. It’s genetic
As per the paper published in the Journal of Clinical and Investigative Dermatology, in 2015, researchers found evidence that a disturbed skin barrier can be passed down generations, transferring dominant and recessive forms of dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis.
But what about a dry scalp?
We know you often think of dandruff as dry patches of skin coming off your scalp. While the occurrence is real, how can you tell the two apart?
Is a Dry scalp and Dandruff the same?
At the onset both conditions look almost identical, however, there are a few key differences in their structure and composition.
Now that you know what is causing the flakiness on your scalp, let’s find the remedies for the same.
Best dandruff shampoos for a dry scalp
When you have a dry scalp, it means your scalp needs hydration and shampoo that cleanses your scalp without drying it out further. To buff away the flakiness it’s great to look out for sulphate- and paraben-free anti-dandruff shampoo that have mild and hydrating ingredients like aloe vera, green tea and sodium hyaluronate that will help you cleanse off the debris well without stripping off moisture.
Best dandruff shampoos for oily scalp
If you have an excessively oily scalp, getting rid of dandruff can be a little time-consuming. An anti-dandruff shampoo that can reduce oil secretion and cleanse thoroughly is best for your scalp. Look out for ingredients like clay, lemon, tea tree oil, and zinc that pack a solid punch against flakes and oiliness. Make sure you massage your scalp with the shampoo to knock out dandruff.
Best shampoo for dandruff that won’t budge
If you’re dealing with excessive flakiness and intense itching and dandruff, it’s time you pick the best anti-dandruff shampoos with oil and fungus-fighting ingredients, like salicylic acid and ketoconazole. These ingredients travel deep into your hair roots and suck out excessive oil while evacuating the fungus that causes dandruff. Make sure you lather and let the shampoos sit on your scalp for 5-7 minutes before rinsing it off. If the condition persists, visit a medical professional to treat the scalp irritation effectively.
Other ways of dealing with dandruff
Along with using the best shampoos for dandruff, there are a few other practices that will help decongest your scalp and effectively reduce dandruff over time.
1. Brush it out
This is an old-school but effective way of getting rid of the scale from your scalp. Before you head to take a shower, indulge in combing your hair with a fine-tooth comb to help pull out the flakes and bring in more circulation to the area. This way you physically exfoliate your scalp and make the process of cleansing your scalp easier.
2. Try a scalp dandruff on your scalp seems never-ending, get your hands on a scalp scrub. Using a scrub is not only great to dismantle and eliminate flakiness, but also a great hygiene practice. If your scalp is excessively oily, try a chemical scalp exfoliant with ingredients like salicylic acid, and glycolic acid to remove away any flakes that were about to float up and control oiliness.
3. Hydrate your scalp
Sometimes the flakiness on your scalp is due to a lack of hydration. Just like your skin when your scalp is dry, it begins flaking out and feels itchy. To rescue your dry scalp, indulge in weekly hair oil sessions or use a scalp elixir to hydrate the floor of your hair and reduce flakiness.
How to choose the best shampoo for dandruff
If you’re still having a conundrum about picking up the best anti-dandruff shampoo, here is a simple road map for you.
1. Figure out if it really is dandruff
Sometimes what you think is dandruff can be a dry scalp. And although both these scalp conditions look similar, their treatments are completely different in approach. A dry scalp would need more hydration while dandruff would need an oil-fighting shampoo.
2. Know the reason for your dandruff
You must determine the cause of your dandruff, that way you can tackle it from the root and prevent it from reoccurring. Observe if your dandruff is due to an excessively oily scalp or another reason.
3. Choose the right ingredients
To eliminate dandruff, you must choose the right ingredient in your anti-dandruff shampoo. If your scalp has mild dandruff then shampoo with ingredients like zinc, clay and tea tree oil will be helpful. While in case of severe dandruff reach out to a ketoconazole-based shampoo.
Frequently asked questions about dandruff
Q. Can dandruff cause hair fall?
A. Dandruff directly does not cause hair fall, but it causes itching, irritation, and inflammation which can injure your hair follicles and weaken your roots leading to hair fall. A good anti-dandruff shampoo can effectively tackle this situation and help keep your scalp healthy.
Q. Can I use a ketoconazole shampoo every day?
A. Ketoconazole is one of the best ingredients in anti-dandruff shampoos but using it every day can dry out your hair shaft and make it brittle. It’s advisable to consult a dermatologist and use a ketoconazole shampoo 2-4 times a week.
Q. Can I use an anti-dandruff shampoo every day?
A. Yes, if you have an extensively oily scalp then washing your hair every day with a mild anti-dandruff shampoo with ingredients like tea tree oil, aloe vera and pyrithione zinc will help in knocking off dandruff and restore your scalp health.