So You Have Dandruff - How To Beat The Flakes

Filed under: Daily Skin Care

Many of us are only too familiar with dandruff – that scalp condition that presents with white flakes dotting our shoulders and clothing. Dandruff isn’t serious or contagious, but it can cause embarrassment and it may not be easy to eradicate.

Dandruff isn’t caused by dry skin, contrary to what many people think. It is a condition associated with seborrhea, which causes cells on the scalp to shed and turn over more often than normal. Under normal circumstances cells will shed and be replaced in about a month, but with seborrhea this process is speeded up. The skin cells mature much faster than normal. It can take as little as 10 to 15 days for this to happen, resulting in the dead skin cells, clumping and flaking that appears as dandruff.

A Fungus May Be Responsible

Malassezia furfur (also known as P. ovale) is a fungus that ‘s found on normal, healthy skin. It feeds on oil secreted by the sebaceous (oil producing glands). Generally P. ovale is not a problem, but certain circumstances, including illness, hormonal changes, stress, etc may cause an overgrowth in P. ovale leading to dandruff.

If P. ovale is the culprit and it very often is, then dandruff may respond to treatment with an anti-fungal shampoo. While zinc pyrithione does have mild anti-fungal action (it also helps to reduce the rate of skin cell turnover and provide exfoliating action), a more effective anti-fungal agent is ketoconazole. Ketoconazole may be found in an over the counter preparation such as Nizoral shampoo. Nizoral shampoo is available in both a 1% and 2% concentration, with the 2% delivering more efficacy.

Other ingredients including coal tar, salicylic acid and phenol can also be helpful in managing the symptoms. It takes time to find out the correct combination of products to manage the symptoms. Read more about managing dandruff here.

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