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Dandruff: Cause and Treatment

Updated on August 19, 2013

The Itchy White Flakes

Dandruff is a scalp condition caused by scaling in the scalp. The scaling forms itchy flakes that spoil your shining locks and the favourite black dress. Though dandruff can not be cured permanently, its important to get rid of it because if not treated on time, it may cause serious diseases (psoriasis, eczema, sty). Getting rid of dandruff mainly depends on the severity of it. Diagnosis is required before one starts using medications and products to treat dandruff.

Causes of Dandruff

A doctor is not necessarily required to diagnose dandruff. You know it when you see flakes in hair and on your shoulders. Even the specialist doesn't performs any particular test on your scalp, he will just have a look.

Dandruff formation is normal. It is produced when the skin regenerates itself. Shampooing takes care of it but when you don't wash your hair regularly, the dead cells accumulate and lead to scaling and flake formation.
The dandruff may be caused due to dirty scalp or hair, product buildup, excessive drying or it may be a severe case of seborrhoeic dermatitis. Also, sometimes excessive use of hair products trigger allergic reactions in some people which can cause dandruff. Knowing the cause helps in fighting the dandruff better.

The more severe cases of seborrhoeic dermatitis involve red pimples along the hairline, behind the ears and severe scaling in scalp. These symptoms need special medications under specialist's supervision.

Ways to Fight Dandruff

The exact cause of dandruff is still unknown but scientists believe that hygiene and diet has no effect on it. Shampooing is the best way to fight the common cases of dandruff. It removes the deposited dead cells that cause dandruff. Regular washing and moisturizing your scalp is good enough for mild cases.

If this fails, OTC treatment shampoos should be used. The main constituents of an anti dandruff shampoo are ketoconazole, zinc pyrithione, salicylic acid and other azole compounds. Look for them in the label before you buy an anti dandruff shampoo. Also, choose a shampoo that suits your scalp best. Avoid moisturizing or hydrating shampoos for oily scalp. Similarly dry scalp requires moisturizing type.


Use the shampoo daily or once in two days. Using a shampoo daily is not harmful unless you are drying your scalp. Once you get rid of the dandruff, reduce the use to twice or thrice a week. Long term use of an anti dandruff shampoo is harmful.


Never forget your bedtime shampoo because dandruff can be caused by excessive use of hair styling products. Hairspray and gel may contribute to dandruff in some people. They cause excessive drying of the skin and if not removed regularly may cause product buildup, flaking scalp and allergic reactions. Though it is not a problem for most people, you should limit the use of too much products.


Treating your scalp with herbal oils also helps sometimes. It soothes the scalp and reduces itching. Tea Tree oil is often used for this and is known to be a natural fungal cure.


In case of severe dandruff, a mixture of products like shampoos, oils and creams should be used. Washing and cleaning of combs, towels and pillows should be done regularly. Changing your old anti dandruff shampoo may also work. If you find any allergic reactions such as rashes or irritation while using any product, seek medical attention immediately.


If you have used everything from shampoos to hair oils and other products faithfully and are still unable to get rid of it, its time to see the dermatologist before it gets worse.

© 2013 Vineet

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