What is dandruff?
Dandruff is the excessive production of small flakes of dead skin on the scalp. It is a normal process, because the cells of the outer layer of scalp skin (the epidermis) die and are replaced constantly, like all other cells in the body. The dead cells then move to the outer edge of the skin and flake off after about 1 month.
What does it mean?
Dandruff is a common, normal condition and carries no risk to health whatsoever. Everyone has it to some degree, and some people only notice it when they wear a dark suit, dress or collar. There is an old saying that ‘nothing stops dandruff like a blue serge suit’. It is not contagious and does not cause baldness.
What aggravates dandruff?
Dandruff seems to be made worse by a variety of factors such as emotional stress, poor diet, poor hygiene (including rarely washing or shampooing the hair), allergies, and various chemicals and cosmetics applied to the scalp. The skin inflammation called seborrhoeic dermatitis is considered to be a most important cause of dandruff.
What causes severe dandruff?
In some people the dandruff is severe and persistent and itchy. Two causes of this are dermatitis of hair-bearing skin (seborrhoeic dermatitis) and psoriasis. There is usually evidence of these skin disorders on other parts of the body.
What is a treatment of dandruff?
There are many shampoos that are suitable for the treatment of dandruff, but no one particular shampoo suits everyone. The shampoo selected depends on the severity of the dandruff. The sulphide preparations upset some people because of staining of necklaces and after odour, but they are effective. If you find a shampoo that suits you, stick with it.
Suitable shampoos are zinc pyrithione (e.g. Dan-Gard), selenium sulphide (e.g. Selsun) and mixed preparations (e.g. Ionil). The shampoo is massaged into the scalp, left for 5 minutes, then rinsed thoroughly. Use it 2-3 times a week. Nizoral 2% shampoo can be prescribed by your cosmetic doctor after the assessment.
This often is due to seborrhoeic dermatitis and psoriasis. Coal tar shampoos are effective for psoriasis. Examples are:
• Ionil T or Ionil T Plus shampoo, followed by Ionil rinse conditioner
• Sebitar shampoo, followed by SebiRinse conditioner Nizoral shampoo is ideal for seborrhoeic dermatitis. The best way to use it is to start with a milder shampoo, rinse off, then use Nizoral, leave it for 4-5 minutes and then rinse off. Use it twice a week. If itching is a problem, a cortisone scalp lotion such as Diprosone or Betnovate scalp application can be used.