This article is a compilation of the most common causes of dandruff. It will help you to understand what exactly happens when your scalp becomes itchy and flaky so that you can take steps towards preventing this from happening in the future.
Dandruff is an inflammation of the skin on the scalp which results in dry flakes falling off the hair shafts. These are usually white or yellowish-white in color but may also be red or black depending upon the cause. The condition affects both men and women equally although some people have more severe cases than others. In fact, many people with dandruff suffer for years before they seek medical advice. This means that there could be other underlying problems such as eczema, psoriasis, seborrhoea, or even thyroid disease. If left untreated, these conditions can lead to further complications including baldness.
Causes of Dandruff:
1. Sebum Production
When we sweat our body produces oil called ‘sebaceous glands. Some of this gets trapped under the surface of the skin where it forms into small pockets known as follicles. As the follicle grows larger, it pushes up against the outer layer of the epidermis causing irritation. This leads to itching and eventually scaling of the affected area.
2. Dry Skin
A combination of factors like stress, poor diet, lack of sleep, etc., can result in dry skin. This makes the follicles very sensitive to external irritants. They become easily irritated by dust particles, pollen, pollution, chemicals, cosmetics, etc. All these things combine together to create a perfect storm for dandruff!
3. Yeast Infection
Many times, dandruff occurs because of yeast infection. There are two types of fungus responsible for this problem; one type lives harmlessly inside us while another type attacks the skin. Both kinds produce toxins that make the scalp extremely itchy and inflamed.
4. Food Sensitivities
Certain foods trigger allergic reactions in certain individuals. For example, wheat products often cause rashes around the face and neck. Other food allergies include dairy products, eggs, nuts, fish, shellfish, soybeans, corn, tomatoes, citrus fruits, etc. People who experience frequent bouts of acne should avoid allergenic foods since their presence aggravates existing breakouts.
5. Hormonal Changes
Women go through hormonal changes throughout their life span. During pregnancy, menstruation, puberty, perimenopause, and postmenopausal periods, hormones fluctuate wildly. Sometimes, these fluctuations affect the way the body reacts to various substances. One such substance is alcohol. Alcohol has been shown to increase the production of testosterone in males and estrogen in females. Testosterone levels rise during adolescence and early adulthood. It causes oily scalps and increases the risk of developing dandruff. Estrogens play a role in regulating hormone levels in older adults. However, when estrogen levels drop too low, the immune system becomes compromised leading to increased susceptibility to infections.
We live in a fast-paced world today. Our lifestyles demand constant attention from us. This leaves little time for relaxation and rest. Lack of proper sleep contributes significantly to the development of dandruff. Sleep deprivation reduces immunity making you prone to diseases. Chronic stress triggers the release of cortisol which damages your adrenal gland resulting in reduced energy levels. Cortisol also stimulates the growth of bacteria on the scalp.
Antibiotics kill off good bacteria along with bad ones. The good guys keep the environment clean and healthy. Without them, there will be an overgrowth of harmful organisms that lead to bacterial or fungal infections. These medications may not only destroy beneficial bacteria but could also damage hair follicles.
Poor nutrition affects every aspect of health including the appearance of the skin. If you have a weak digestive tract, then chances are you won’t absorb nutrients properly. Your body needs vitamins and minerals to function optimally. When you don’t get enough of any particular nutrient, your body compensates by producing less of what it does need. As a result, your skin looks dull and lifeless.
9. Hair Care Products
Some shampoos contain harsh ingredients that strip away natural oils from the scalp leaving behind dead cells. Over-washing leads to flaking as well as itching. You can use gentle shampoo instead of a regular one. Wash your hair twice daily using mild soap and water. Avoid washing more than once a week. Use conditioners sparingly. They help nourish damaged hair while adding shine. Do not apply heat styling tools directly onto wet hair. Instead, blow dry your hair first before applying heat.
10. Sunlight Exposure
Excessive exposure to sunlight makes our bodies produce vitamin D. Vitamin D helps regulate calcium metabolism. Calcium plays a vital role in maintaining strong bones and teeth. In addition, it keeps the blood vessels flexible so that blood flow remains smooth. A lack of vitamin D results in brittle nails and poor muscle tone.
Tobacco smoke contains nicotine which interferes with the functioning of nerves. Nicotine constricts blood vessels causing circulation problems. Cigarette smoking lowers resistance against infection. It also impairs wound healing.
Certain genes predispose people to develop dandruff. People who inherit this gene tend to suffer from excessive shedding of the outer layer of the epidermis. There’s no cure for genetic conditions like alopecia areata. But if you’re suffering from dandruff, try to avoid stressful situations. Try to maintain a balanced diet rich in essential fatty acids. Take care of yourself mentally and physically. Get plenty of sleep. Exercise regularly. Keep your hands out of your face!
Bacterial infections cause inflammation leading to red bumps on the scalp. Fungi grow under moist conditions. Yeast grows when sugar content rises due to improper hygiene. Both types of fungi feed on sebum secreted by glands located near the base of each hair shaft. Sebum provides moisture and lubrication to the roots of the hairs.
Pimples occur when bacteria multiply rapidly inside follicles. Oil glands become blocked resulting in blackheads. Whiteheads appear when oil is trapped beneath the surface of the skin. Blackheads form because clogged pores trap dirt particles. This causes acne scars.
The most noticeable symptom of dandruff flakes falling off your head. Flakes look like dead hair. They’re usually white but sometimes yellowish or brown. The number of flakes varies from person to person. Some people only get one big clump at a time; others see many small ones all over their heads.
Flaking occurs when oil glands under the surface of the skin become blocked. This makes them produce more oil than they should. As a result, excess oil accumulates around the follicle. When the blockage breaks down, the oil flows into the surrounding area where it forms tiny droplets called scales. These scales stick together forming larger pieces of debris known as flakes.
Dryness may be another sign of dandruff. Dry skin tends to crack easily. If you have oily skin, then you might notice an increase in greasiness after having been exposed to sunlight. Your body produces extra oil during times of stress. Stressful events such as exams, job interviews, etc., trigger increased production of cortisol. Cortisol triggers the release of additional hormones including adrenaline and noradrenaline. Adrenalin increases heart rate and blood pressure. Noradrenaline stimulates sweat glands.
Steps towards preventing Dandruff from Happening in the Future!
Regular Shampooing: The best way to prevent dandruff is to wash your hair at least two times per week. Make sure to choose an anti-dandruff shampoo. These products work better than ordinary ones. Follow instructions carefully. Don’t overdo it though. Too much scrubbing will damage your hair.
Moisturize your skin frequently. Apply moisturizer after shower or bath. Choose a product containing salicylic acid. Salicylic acid works great for treating oily scalps.
Healthy Scalp: Cleanse your scalp thoroughly. Scrub gently but firmly. Rinse off all traces of cleanser. Pat dry. Be careful not to rub too hard. Rubbing may irritate sensitive areas such as ears, nose, eyes, lips, etc. If you have any cuts or sores around these parts, cover them up with bandages until healed.
Avoid Heat Styling Tools:
Blow drying your hair straightens its cuticle making it less prone to breakage. However, don’t let air get into your hair too often. Air dries out your hair and encourages split ends. Also, do not brush your hair immediately after getting out of the shower. Wait till it has dried completely.
Use Conditioner Sparingly:
Using conditioner every day increases the chances of developing dandruff. Only use it occasionally. When you need to add some extra volume to your locks, opt for a leave-in conditioner. Leave-ins penetrate deep down into the strands without weighing them down.
Don’t Overwash Your Hair:
It takes time for your hair to absorb water. So, wait before washing your hair again. Wash only once a week. Use mild shampoos that contain natural ingredients. Avoid harsh chemicals which can strip your hair of vital nutrients.
Wear Comfortable Clothes:
Wearing tight clothes makes your head sweat more. Sweat tends to collect between your hair and pillowcase causing itching and flaking. Wear loose-fitting clothing so that excess perspiration doesn’t accumulate.
Keep Away From Pet Stains:
Pets shed their fur daily. Their saliva contains enzymes that dissolve dead cells. As they lick themselves clean, they transfer those enzymes onto your bedding. This leads to staining. To remove pet stains, soak sheets in hot water. Then, place them on top of a radiator or stove burner. Turn heat on high setting. Let sit overnight. Repeat this process twice if necessary.
How To Get Rid Of Dandruff?
There are many ways to treat dandruff. Some people prefer home remedies while others go for professional treatments. Here’s how to cure dandruff naturally.
Home Remedies For Dandruff Treatment
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
This has been used since ancient times to treat various skin problems such as acne, eczema, psoriasis, etc. It also works great when applied topically to prevent hair loss. To use apple cider vinegar, mix ¼ cup of white vinegar with ½ cup of warm water. Then apply it to your scalp and leave it overnight. In the morning, wash it off with normal tap water. Repeat this process three times every week.
2. Aloe Vera Gel
Cut an aloe vera leaf open lengthwise. Scoop gel from inside. Gently massage over the affected area. Keep covered for 20 minutes. Afterward, wash face with lukewarm water. Follow by applying cold cream.
3. Baking Soda And Water Baths
Add baking soda to a bowl filled with tepid water. Dip hands in solution. Work through the entire body including the scalp. Rinse thoroughly with clear running water. Dry yourself with a towel.
4. Castor Oil
Castor oil is one of the most effective home remedies for dandruff treatment. Simply combine 1 part castor oil with 2 parts baby shampoo. Keep it in the fridge for 3 days. When ready to use, shake thoroughly and then apply to affected areas. Do not forget to keep the mixture refrigerated. If possible, do not let children play around while using this remedy because they might ingest some amount of the solution.
5. Coconut Milk
Combine coconut milk and honey. Blend well. Pour into container. Refrigerate. Take about 4 tablespoons per day.
6. Egg Whites
Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Apply to dry scalp. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Place under the sun for 15 hours. Once done, gently rub off with fingers.
7. Lemon Juice + Honey
Squeeze lemon juice directly onto the scalp. Spread evenly across the surface. Sprinkle with raw sugar. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to remain on for 10 minutes. Afterward, rinse with plain water.
8. Lavender Essential Oils
Make a strong tea by steeping lavender essential oils in boiling water. Cool slightly. Saturate cotton balls with liquid. Rub onto the scalp. Leave on for 5 minutes. Rinse with lukewarm water followed by cold water.
9. Olive Oil
Warm olive oil in the microwave oven. Massage into scalp. Leave on for half-hour. Wash away with mild soap.
10. Tea Tree Oil
Prepare a very weak tea by adding two teaspoons of dried tea tree leaves to 8 ounces of boiled water. Steep for ten minutes. Filter out the leaves. Use as needed.
11. Wheat Germ Extract
Crush wheat germ capsules. Put the crushed powder in a blender along with enough distilled water to make a smooth paste. Stir well. Apply to the scalp. Wait for five minutes before rinsing.
12. Yogurt Scrub
Soak yogurt in warm water. Mash it up. Rinse after fifteen minutes. Mix equal amounts of yogurt and salt. Apply to wet hair. Let sit for 30 minutes. Shampoo normally afterward.
13. Zinc Oxide Powder
Dissolve zinc oxide powder in water. Allow drying completely. Brush or spray onto the scalp.
14. Vitamin E
Mix vitamin e oil with almond or jojoba oil. Massage into the scalp twice daily.
When to see a doctor?
If you notice any changes in how often your dandruff occurs, or if there’s redness, scaling, itching, burning, oozing, soreness, tenderness, pain, swelling, bleeding, or pus around your head, call your healthcare provider right away. Your health depends on it!
How long does it take to remove dandruff effectively?
A. It depends on how much oil or sebum is present on the scalp. If there are more oils then they will clump together and form lumps called scales. These scales stick to each other and become visible when combed through. This process takes time because it requires lots of patience and persistence. However, if you use an effective shampoo for removing them, you should see results within 2-3 weeks.
B. The longer you leave the hair untreated, the harder it becomes to get rid of the problem. Therefore, try to avoid leaving the conditioner too long on your hair. Also, don’t wash your hair every single day. Instead, only wash once a week at least.
C. You can also buy special shampoos that contain natural ingredients like aloe vera extract which helps prevent further breakouts. They help reduce inflammation and speed up healing.
All in all, we have come up with some really great tips here. Hopefully, this article has helped you understand what causes dandruff better. So now go ahead and apply these remedies to your own life. We wish you good luck!