Dandruff! The never ending hair woe that seems to affect everyone at some point in their lives. But what exactly is dandruff? And how is it formed? Let us take a look! So we all know that our body is constantly producing a fibrous protein called Keratin, which is formed at the bottom of the epidermis and gradually moves up to make way for newer cells to form. Eventually, the older ones replenish as they move to the outer layer of our skin. They flatten out and harden until they fall off one by one. Even though throughout our lifetime we shed billions of skin cells we can hardly notice it due to its microscopic nature.
However, sometimes our body may shed larger pieces of skin cells, typically near the scalp area. This is known as dandruff. Dandruff flakes are an indicator of an unhealthy scalp, but no more. We are you to share with you our top tips to win this battle against dandruff.
What is dandruff and how is it caused?
Seborrheic Dermatitis commonly known as dandruff is essentially a cumulation of scalp oils and dead skin bonding together that causes the skin on the scalp to flake. Even though dandruff can be found on dry scalps, over washing oily scalps may also aggravate dandruff formation. So, why is it that half the world’s population suffers from dandruff and how is it caused? Let us answer that for you right below:
1. Bacteria development
Our hair is a breeding ground for many tiny organisms, one such being Malassezia globosa. This is a fungus that lives on each of our scalps, thriving in the warm and moist environment of our hair. It feeds off the sebum produced by the skin. The enzymes it produces can irritate the scalp and hence our body tries to naturally repel these molecules by increasing the turnover of skin cells. When the newer cells reach the surface, the older ones have not completed their cycle to shed off and stick to each other instead. This forms clumps shedding as larger flakes.
Sensitive skin can be hereditary. Simply having an oily scalp does not cause dandruff. In order to experience this condition your skin must be sensitive to Oleic acid produced by the enzymes. The skin's rapid response to this acid can cause a turnover of skin cells.
When your hormones kick in you may produce more oil than usual. When the excess sebum is broken down by naturally occurring microbes, your scalp might become irritated and you may start to notice dandruff during puberty. However, even though it is most common in teenagers, this can develop at any age.
4. Weather conditions
During the winter our skin becomes dry all over our body. If you suffer from excessive dryness your overall body lacks hydration. Our scalp gets flaky and makes us feel itchy due to the cold dry air. Summer on the other hand might worsen the bacteria growth with excessive oil secretion, sweat and pollution accumulating on the surface.
5. Over shampooing
If oiliness is a major concern you face, you might think washing your hair frequently might help. You may notice that temporarily your hair might retain balanced oil levels however the excess oil is not long gone. This is because you are drying out your scalp and your body is stimulating more oil secretion to combat this dryness. It is healthier if you do not wash your hair every day to avoid stripping away the natural oils and make it dry.
How do you get rid of dandruff and how long does it take to cure it?
Dandruff is an extremely common, non- severe medical condition that can be treated with the right tips. How long it takes to cure depends on the severity of your condition, following the tips given below will help to reduce moderate dandruff in approximately a month.
1. Use an anti-dandruff shampoo
Since dandruff is caused by a yeast, there are many over the counter medicated shampoos that specifically target dandruff. Look out for ingredients that will help to exfoliate and decrease the flakes. True Frog Anti Dandruff Shampoo with Black Pepper and Inga Bark Extract moisturises and clears dandruff.
2. Wash your hair frequently
If you have an oily scalp, sebum is produced at a higher rate. This means you need to wash your hair more often. You do not need to shampoo every day but try washing your hair in consistent frequencies. Most scalp conditions worsen due to over washing, however that is not the case with dandruff. Once every alternate day will help to remove the oils without excessively stripping away the essentials.
3. Exfoliate your scalp
While exfoliation is an important step in our skincare routine, we often overlook the skin on our scalp. It involves using physical or chemical exfoliants to remove dead skin, sebum and flakes. Neglecting to exfoliate can lead to dull hair, clogged follicles and itchy, flaky skin.
4. Change your diet
This is the first step you must take that indirectly affects the health of your hair and scalp. You must add Omega 3, fatty acids such as salmon, walnuts, chia seeds, that not only manage the oil production but also provide hydration to your hair. Also consume probiotic rich foods like yogurt and cheese that fight against fungal infection that cause dandruff.
What is the difference between dandruff, dry scalp and psoriasis?
Dandruff a commonly overused term and you must understand if you actually do have dandruff or some other underlying concern. Although the symptoms might be similar the treatment required will be different. Often, we can get confused between the various conditions and use the wrong approach to treat it. The other conditions that create flakiness include:
What is the recommended routine to follow for everyday dandruff problems?
Using the correct technique is equally important, as applying the product to get the most efficient results. In order to do so follow the steps as outlined below:
Step 1 : Exfoliate
Apply the Flawsome Dense Intense Exfoliating & Deep Cleansing Hair Mask that helps to get rid of undesirable build up & flakes to achieve healthier & cleaner scalp gently removing depositions and soothes flaky scalp. Before you shampoo, wet hair and apply the exfoliating mask over the scalp & gently massage all over. Leave it on for 3 to 5 minutes.
Step 2: Shampoo
Massage the shampoo into your scalp and let it sit for 5 minutes. Depending to the chemical content of your shampoo, the most effective way to treat your dandruff is by alternating between different active ingredients, such as:
- Apple Cider Vinegar: Acidic water is thought to have benefits for hair health, including preventing hair loss and reducing dandruff. Due to its low pH and antimicrobial properties, apple cider vinegar may by keeping itching, flaking, and other dandruff symptoms at bay. Fix My Curls Cleansing Shampoo is perfect for your once a week wash day to heal damaged hair, eliminating dandruff and itchiness, redness.
- Coal Tar: It has medical properties that sheds the dead cells from its top layer and slows down the growth of skin cells. The Switch Fix Play It Coal Shampoo Bar is formulated with activated charcoal that effectively removes oil, dandruff, dust, pollution and other impurities from your hair without being excessively harsh or drying.
- Tea Tree: Tea tree has antifungal properties that help to moisturise and soothe the scalp by clearing blocked pores and preventing dryness. Natural Vibes Ayurvedic Tea Tree Shampoo helps you fight dandruff, lice, itchiness and even hairfall. Tea Tree will encourage hair growth by helping to unclog hair follicles and nourish the roots.
Step 3: Condition
It is essential to nourish and soothe your hair after using the strong chemicals on your scalp to treat dandruff. Conditioning can add back the vitamins and nutrients to the hair and scalp, and prevents over-drying. Many non-dandruff conditioners may rinse off the active ingredient used in the antidandruff shampoo, cancelling off the effect. Therefore, you must use a conditioner specially designed to get rid of dandruff such as the Natural Vibes Ayurvedic Tea Tree Hair Conditioner or Petal Fresh Scalp Treatment Tea Tree Conditioner.
Dos and Don'ts
Even though there is no cure for dandruff there are certain Dos and Don’ts you must follow to address the concern and treat it.
- Hair brushing often acts as an exfoliator to remove dead skin cells and dirt by picking up the build-up from the surface. If you do not brush your hair frequently the dead skin cells can accumulate over time and lead to dandruff. Brushing also helps to evenly distribute the hair oils and sebum produced as well as massage your scalp.
- Alternate between different shampoos while using your anti dandruff shampoo as they can be too harsh for your skin if over used. To get better results alternate between dandruff shampoos to nourish your scalp different active ingredients.
- Only use lukewarm water to wash your hair as the heat from hot water can aggravate the scalp by making it dry and cause inflation.
- Do not add oils to your scalp too often. Contrary to popular belief, dandruff is not caused by dryness but by the fungus feeding on the oils produced by your scalp. Adding too much oil will only make matters worse. However, there are certain oils which are specially designed to fight dandruff & infection such as the TVAM Hair Oil – Neem Green Tea and Anti Dandruff. This oil helps in promoting a healthy scalp and thick hair growth. Combined with Neem, Basil, Tea-Tree and Turmeric which is well known for its antifungal and antibacterial properties.
- Do not rinse off your anti dandruff shampoo immediately. Not using your shampoo properly will not show any results. Massage the shampoo into your scalp as your aim is not to treat the hair but the scalp instead.
- Do not scratch your scalp. Scratching is a natural reaction to an itchy scalp but it will only give you temporary relief. The itching is caused by irritation and scratching that will only trap you in the vicious cycle of aggravating the scalp leading to more itchiness and scratching.
- Do not apply the dandruff shampoo all over your hair. Anti dandruff shampoos are formulated with strong chemicals mainly to target the fungus dwelling on the surface of your scalp. Applying it all over can dry out your hair making it brittle and damaged and therefore you must use a regular shampoo to wash the tips of your hair.
Dandruff is a beauty insecurity that we are often embarrassed to address. It is an extremely common, non - severe medical condition that can be treated with the right tips and practices. Healing takes time so the best way is to follow the required treatment and be patient. Hang in there, good hair days are coming!
- Howrah Lookmanji