Dandruff is a symptom of several chronic conditions that result in a flaky, itchy scalp. Numerous contributing factors can result in the notorious white flakes on your shoulders, including:
- Common skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis
- Allergic reactions
- Fungal infections
Even though the causes are varied and not 100% known, all dandruff is associated with an increase in oil production and an overreaction to the yeast naturally found on the scalp. It’s common to see dandruff run in families so a genetic predisposition is likely.
Although hair loss and dandruff do not share similar causes, many people with hair loss also have dandruff. Often, people mistakenly think the hair they see in the shower drain is partially due to frequent shampooing, so they wash their hair less. Unfortunately, washing hair less only makes the dandruff condition worse and can result in clogged follicles, which can slow down hair regrowth. If dandruff is left untreated, the scalp can become so itchy and inflamed it may actually cause temporary hair loss, creating a vicious circle. Bottom line? Don’t skip the shampoo.
Dandruff is not a serious or contagious condition. Although chronic, the majority of cases may be managed with over the counter anti-dandruff shampoos. Some shampoos use anti-inflammatory ingredients to combat allergic reactions. Others have ingredients that reduce flaking by increasing cell turnover or decreasing oil production, while some other cleansers work to reduce fungal infections by decreasing yeast on the scalp. Alternating the use of two or three shampoos that treat different aspects of dandruff can help reduce flaking and itching. Try using a different anti-dandruff shampoo two to three times a week to see which type works best for you.
If anti-dandruff shampoos aren’t giving you the results you want, consider talking to your doctor. It’s important to take care of your scalp because a healthy scalp is critical to healthy hair.