How to Stop Dandruff

Dandruff is a very common problem, characterized by itching and peeling of the skin in the region of the scalp. Although dandruff is neither contagious nor severe, its presence can be embarrassing and sometimes difficult to treat. Although poorly seen, dandruff is not necessarily a sign of lack of personal hygiene.


What is dandruff?

Dandruff is a mild form of seborrheic dermatitis, which affects the scalp. The skin of the scalp is in constant renewal process, always producing new cells and desquamation of dead tissue. As the more superficial layer of the skin renews, the older cells are pushed out, where they eventually die and flake.

This process occurs daily and goes unnoticed in most people. However, in patients with dandruff, this process of skin renewal is accelerated, causing large amounts of dead skin to peel off, forming plaques of dead tissue along the scalp. This dead skin tends to flake, forming the typical white flakes of dandruff, easily visible due to its contrast with the color of the hair.

Dandruff usually occurs in adolescence and tends to be a chronic and recurrent problem, with periods of improvement that alternate with moments of exacerbation.

Causes of dandruff

Dandruff has a genetic component, as it usually affects more than one member in the same family. We do not know exactly the cause of dandruff or why some people are more likely to have it. However, several risk factors have already been identified, including:
  • Presence of seborrheic dermatitis in other areas of the body
  • Increased oiliness of the scalp
  • Dryness of the scalp
  • Live in places where there are many cold and dry or hot and humid days
  • Poor hygiene of the scalp
  • Excessive use of shampoo
  • Frequent use of gel or mousse in the hair
  • Emotional stress
  • Allergy to some shampoos or cosmetics used in hair
  • Psoriasis
  • Eczemas in other parts of the body

Patients with some diseases have a higher incidence of dandruff than usual. More than 80% of patients with HIV have dandruff and/or seborrheic dermatitis, whereas in the healthy population this rate is only 30%. In addition to HIV, other conditions that compromise the immune system, such as chemotherapy or the use of immunosuppressive drugs, also favor the onset of dandruff.

Another condition in which dandruff is also very common is in Parkinson's disease.

The presence of a fungus called Malassezia seems to increase the risk of dandruff, but this is not yet fully proven.


Dandruff is characterized by the appearance of small thin flakes of dead skin, which appear as white dots distributed by hair. When examining the scalp it is possible to find dead skin plaques adhered. In more severe cases, the desquamation can be so much, that the dandruff falls of the hair, accumulating in the shoulders and the patient's shirt.

There are usually no signs of inflammation around these plaques, but as many patients with dandruff feel itchy scalp, the act of scratching the head often can cause irritation and wounds at various points.

How to get rid dandruff?

Dandruff is not a condition that has a cure itself. There are several effective treatments for dandruff, but it is very common for the patient to have new episodes over the years.

In the simplest cases, just wash your hair daily with any ordinary shampoo. In cases of recurring dandruff, there are several anti-dandruff shampoos on the market that are effective. Generally shampoos for dandruff contain one of the following substances:
  • Zinc pyrithione
  • Tar
  • Selenium sulfate
  • Salicylic acid

Usually, there is no anti-dandruff shampoo that can be considered more effective. Each individual is best suited to a brand. So if your dandruff does not improve after a week of treatment, look for a brand with a different anti-dandruff substance until you find the one that works best for you.

If your capsa is more severe, especially if there is seborrheic dermatitis associated with inflammation of the scalp, shampoos with antifungals are usually indicated. Look for shampoos that contain ciclopirox or ketoconazole. If there is no improvement, the patient should seek the help of a dermatologist.

Myths and truths about dandruff

  • Shaving the hair does not help at all in the treatment because the problem lies in the skin of the scalp and not in the size or amount of hair.
  • Dandruff when left untreated can lead to hair loss, especially in the most severe cases, when there is inflammation of the scalp.
  • Periods of greater stress or fatigue may increase the occurrence of dandruff.
  • Dandruff is not contagious and is not transmitted through combs or hairbrushes.
  • Dandruff may occur if the patient does not wash their hair often, but it does not necessarily have to do with poor hygiene. In fact, people who wash their hair excessively or do so with soap instead of shampoos may also have dandruff.
  • Dandruff is more common in men than in women.

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