Little White Flakes
You see the light yellow or white flakes on your shoulders or in your hair. Those are the telltale signs of dandruff. Dandruff flakes are actually dead skin cells that fall off your scalp. When you have dandruff, your scalp may look scaly or red and feel itchy or raw. Scratching or rubbing your head loosens the flakes. You may notice them more when you wear dark tops.
Is Your Hair Care to Blame?
Dandruff doesn’t mean you have dirty hair, but the way you style your hair or the products you use might cause a flaky scalp. Some hair coloring and styling products can leave a flaky, dry residue or trigger a skin reaction that looks like dandruff. If you already have dandruff, not washing your hair enough can make your dandruff look worse because dead skin cells build up. You may want to try different hair products to see if they help your dandruff clear up.
Wash Away Dandruff
Special shampoos from the drugstore can treat dandruff. Common ingredients include:
Some research supports these natural dandruff treatments, but there’s no proof they work consistently.
- Aloe. Using aloe on the scalp may help reduce itchiness and scaliness.
- Tea tree oil shampoo. Using a 5% tea tree oil shampoo may reduce dandruff and that itchy feeling.
- Lemongrass shampoo. Washing with a 2% lemongrass shampoo may help fight fungus that causes dandruff.
Follow the directions on the dandruff shampoo label. Using the pads of your fingers, gently rub the shampoo into your scalp. Leave the shampoo on your head for five minutes — or as directed — before you rinse. If you prefer the smell of your normal shampoo and conditioner, you can use those afterward. As your dandruff gets better, use dandruff shampoo just once or twice a week.
Time to See Your Doctor
If you’ve been using a dandruff shampoo for several weeks but still have dandruff, it may be time to see a doctor. You should also see a doctor if your scalp is swollen or red, or if you have a red, scaly rash on other parts of your body. You may need prescription-strength dandruff shampoo, an antifungal product, or a steroid cream for your scalp or other parts of your body.
What Causes Dandruff?
No one is really sure what causes dandruff. It’s probably caused by a fungus. Hair follicles and oil glands make an oil called sebum, which may be a breeding ground for yeast or fungus. This fungus usually lives on your skin, but too much fungus may lead to dandruff. Too much sebum also may cause dandruff. Not drinking enough water or being exposed to a lot of dry air can cause skin to dry out and flake, which can look like dandruff.
Dandruff tends to be worse during dry months. Cold, dry winter weather in particular can make dandruff worse. Stress or fatigue can trigger or aggravate it, too.
Conditions that Lead to Flaky Scalp
Conditions that Lead to Flaky Scalp
Skin problems like acne, eczema, and psoriasis can cause a buildup of dead skin cells on the scalp. People with serious medical problems such as epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and HIV are prone to developing dandruff. And, for unclear reasons, people recovering from a stroke, heart attack, or head injury are also more likely to have dandruff.
Sometimes what seems like dandruff can be an entirely different condition. Head lice are itchy and lay eggs that look like dandruff, but they’re harder to shake off or brush out. Or your scalp could be itching from ringworm, a fungus that causes dandruff-like flakes. With ringworm, you might also have round patches of hair loss and blistered, scaly areas on your scalp.
Dandruff: Harmful or Just Annoying?
Although having dandruff can be embarrassing, it’s harmless. It doesn’t mean that you’re not clean. It’s not contagious: You can’t catch it or pass it along to someone else. Dandruff doesn’t directly cause hair loss, but scratching your scalp a lot could cause temporary hair loss.
source: Rx list