Everyone knows what dandruff looks like and just how annoying it can be - but what causes it and what can we do to prevent our hair from resembling a snow globe?
- Visible flakes
- Itchy scalp
What causes dandruff?
Dandruff is simply caused by the skin cells turning over too rapidly but why this happens is unclear. As our bodies form new cells our skin sheds the old dead ones. It’s a completely naturally process that is supposed to happen so gradually that we don’t see it happening. But with dandruff this procedure speeds up causing the scalp to shed excessive amounts of dead skin which fall out in visible flakes and make the head feel itchy.
Some skin conditions: namely Seborrhoeic dermatis (which causes oily skin) and eczema and psoriasis (which cause dry and flaky skin) may cause dandruff. A weakened immune system as a result of chemotherapy or HIV may also make a person more prone.
Malassezia (a type of fungus that normally lives harmlessly on the skin) may also be a trigger as it can accelerate new skin production if the fungus starts to get out of control.
How can I get rid of dandruff?
- Most dandruff (or pityriasis capitis - as it’s technically called) is treated with an anti-dandruff shampoo containing ‘antimicrobials’ which act against the fungus Malassezia and help reduce cell turnover.
- Antifungal shampoo may also work as it too stops the Malassezia fungus.
- These should be used twice weekly for up to a month to clear dandruff.
- f this fails, a GP can prescribe a stronger shampoo or steroid lotion or may refer you to a skin specialist.
Alternative Remedies & Self-help
Spending time in the sun can help reduce dandruff.