Dandruff Frequently Asked Questions

Most frequently asked questions about dandruff cover the causes of dandruff, the most effective treatments available and effectiveness of medicated antidandruff shampoos.

What is Dandruff?

Dandruff scales are visible flakes of skin that are continuously shed from the scalp. Dandruff is a normal physiological process that is exaggerated in some individuals.

Because it is a normal process, it is quite difficult to get rid of dandruff completely.This means that dandruff can be controlled, not cured.

What is the Cause of Dandruff?

People with dandruff have large numbers of a tiny fungus, the yeast Malassezia, previously known as Pityrosporum, on the scalp. These stimulate the superficial cells of the skin to flake faster, which becomes visible on the scalp as the telltale scales of dandruff.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Dandruff?

Symptoms of Dandruff:Itchy scalp is the classical symptom of moderate to severe dandruff. Most people have flakes fall onto their shoulders and dresses. Rarely, scratching of the scalp can cause secondary inflammation and infection.

Signs of Dandruff: Dryness and scaling are the signs of dandruff. The scales may either be dry or greasy. In severe cases, the scales may be visible on the face, behind the ears, on the eye lashes (blepharitis) and front and back of chest. Tinea versicolor may coexist with severe dandruff.

Are There any Aggravating Factors for Dandruff?

Dandruff may be exacerbated following stress, alcohol ingestion, certain medications like steroids, oral contraceptive pills, hot spicy foods, and can get converted to the severe inflammatory type of seborrheic dermatitis in immune deficient states like HIV, diabetes or in diseases like Parkinsonism.

Dandruff is also aggravated in cold climates. This may be due to the increased sebum secretion to prevent heat from being lost from the skin. Dryness of the scalp may also contribute to the aggravation of dandruff during winter.

Is There a Cure for Dandruff?

As it is an exaggerated physiological process, dandruff can only be controlled, not cured. Any treatment claiming to be a dandruff cure is probably a scam.

Having said that, it is possible to obtain a reasonable level of remission from dandruff with optimal use of anti-dandruff shampoos and anti-yeast medications.

How to Get Rid of Dandruff?

The treatment of dandruff includes regular cleansing of the scalp with an antidandruff shampoo containing antifungal medications like ketoconazole (e.g. nizoral shampoo), climbazole, zinc pyrithione , piroctone olamine, cyclopirox olamine etc. Selenium sulphide, tar and salicylic acid shampoos also help to get rid of dandruff fast.

A change in lifestyle and optimal control of immune lowering diseases like diabetes also plays an important role in the control of dandruff.

Are There any Systemic Medications Used in Dandruff?

Vitamin B complex and Vitamin A have been reported useful as adjunctives in the treatment of dandruff.

Systemic antifungal medications like ketoconazole are used in the treatment resistant moderate to severe cases of dandruff.

Which is the Most Effective Anti-dandruff Shampoo?

In mild dandruff, regular washing with a normal, ‘daily use, with moisturizer’ shampoo is sufficient to achieve good control of the scaly itchy scalp.

In moderate to severe dandruff, medicated anti-dandruff shampoos with antifungal agents as mentioned above are helpful. To start with, medicated shampoos should be used every alternate day. Once the dandruff is controlled, a maintenance application of weekly once or twice will help keep the disease under control.

Are There Any Effective Natural Herbal Home Remedies for Dandruff?

There are many home remedies available for dandruff, ranging from warm coconut oil to lemon in cider vinegar. Oily applications are best avoided in wet or greasy dandruff, as these may actually aggravate the dandruff.

Some of the home remedies for dandruff are effective, but the evidence is only anecdotal; meaning, no clinical trials have been conducted to prove the claims.

Are Herbal Shampoos Better and Safer Than Medicated Shampoos in the Treatment of Dandruff?

The anti-yeast properties of herbal shampoos are not proven. Whether herbal or medicated, all shampoos are made up of the cleansing agent (detergents), with other substances like foaming agents, thickeners, softeners or conditioners, coloring agents, preservatives, fragrances, opacifiers etc. Only the active ingredients differ.

Being herbal does not guarantee more effectiveness or safety than the medicated shampoos. In fact it could even be the opposite, as herbal shampoos contain unproven or untested ingredients; medicated and proven shampoos may be more effective than the former in getting rid of the dandruff.

Dandruff: Related Readings

  • How to Get Rid of Dandruff
  • How to Get Rid of Seborrheic Dermatitis?