Healthy Hair

What is dandruff?

Dandruff is a skin condition that has become associated with the scalp. An increase in production of oil causes skin cells to accumulate. This creates the appearance of white or grey flakes on the scalp; subsequently being distributed into the hair. Dandruff is a mild type of ‘seborrheic dermatitis’. This is a skin disorder that causes irritated and scaling skin but doesn’t involve inflammation. Aside from the visual flakes, dandruff can be accompanied by an itchy, red and tingly scalp.

What causes dandruff?

  • Genetics – Some people are more susceptible to dandruff than others. The rate of regeneration of the epidermis on the scalp may be a determining factor. For some, this regeneration is faster, resulting in dead skin appearing faster.. Genetic factors also appear in the form of increased sensitivity. This can be towards weather, certain foods or products. Sensitivity can reduce or increase sebum production – both of which can cause dandruff.
  • Hormones – Hormonal changes associated with an increase in sebum production can cause dandruff.
  • FungusMalassezia is a type of fungus that occurs on the skin of all healthy people. This fungi feeds on sebum and is not harmful unless in excess. An increase in sebum secretion increases nutritional supply for the fungus, which in turn disrupts the renewal of cells and produces dandruff. By absorbing the skin’s sebum, the fungus can also leave the scalp dry and susceptible to flaking.
  • Skin care – The health of the skin’s outer layer (scalp stratum corneum) can affect the amount of dandruff. It is essentially a barrier that protects the scalp from harmful UV light, microorganisms and toxic compounds in the environment. If compromised, it can fail, making the scalp susceptible to drying, flaking and the effects of the fungus.
  • Hygiene – Neglecting to wash your hair can cause dandruff due to the build up of oil.

How to get rid of dandruff

  • For people whose skin regenerates faster, it is advised to wash the scalp more often and to use moisturising hair products. Often, the longer you stay without cleaning your hair the more visible these flakes become.

  • Antifungal hair products are effective against Malassezia. Treatments like Ketoconazole and Ciclopirox are some of the products that can be used for this effect. Visit a dermatologist (skin doctor) for more information and advice on the best treatment to use for dandruff.
  • Dandruff shampoo can be purchased from your local pharmacy.