|Dandruff - Hair
Dandruff is a mysterious topic.
Mysterious from the viewpoint that there is no commonly
agreed upon theories about what actually causes the condition. There is
also no known published cure.
Even though there are estimates that as
much as 97% of the population of the United States will at some point in
their lives have a form of dandruff, there is still a lack of total
agreement about many elements of the condition.
Dandruff can happen at any age but is
most commonly found in people between the ages of 12 and above.
A form of dandruff known as cradle cap
occurs in newborns and infants.
General Description of Dandruff
Dandruff (or dry flaky scalp) is an
itchy, annoying and persistent skin disorder of the scalp. A dark suit
and dandruff simply don't go together!
There is nothing more embarrassing than
to have someone brush white scaly flakes off your beautiful black dress
or navy blue jacket.
Based on ongoing research, it has been
noted that in the past ten years dandruff problems in the United States
have become more serious and more frequent.
Dry or Greasy Dandruff
Dandruff can cause either an overly dry
scalp with itchy white flakes that may be waxy or greasy or dandruff can
manifest as an oily greasy scalp with scales.
What Is Dandruff?
A person's entire body surface
continuously sheds dead skin cells. The skin itself sheds every
Dandruff, the shedding of dead skin
cells from the scalp at an excessive rate, is the result of the normal
growing process of the skin cells of the scalp.
Excessive Sloughing Of Old Cells
In a normal scalp, the process of
sloughing off old cells and manufacturing of their replacements is very
orderly and complete. In the dandruff scalp, there is mass disorder and
often the departing cells are not dead before leaving the scalp.
Why there should be a speedup in the
scalp's cell production is still a debated mystery.
There appear to be two different causes
of dandruff. Internal and external.
Among the myriad of internal causes
- hormonal imbalance
- poor health
- excessive perspiration
- poor hygiene
- allergic hypersensitive
- lack of rest
- emotional stress
- excessive consumption of sugar, fat,
- improper nutrition
- heredity pre-disposition
There is still no other published cure
for the skin disorders that can cause dandruff so most of the 50 million
people in the United States who have it find they get it again and
The following factors may make the
flaking of dandruff worse and considered to be external causes for the
- Excessive use of hairsprays and
- Improper use of hair-coloring
products or excessive use of electric hair curlers
- Cold weather and dry indoor heating.
- Tight fitting hats and scarves.
- Infrequent shampooing of the hair or
- Stress, anxiety and tension.
Dandruff & The Fungus Theory
Contrary to popular theory, although
bacteria may aggravate a dandruff condition, germs do not cause the
initial problem. The precise cause of dandruff is unknown.
Most medical authorities consider
dandruff, even the mildest forms, to be a type of scalp or skin related
Clinically, one description of dandruff
is seborrhea capitos or excessive sebum production of the scalp.
Today most skin specialists agree that
dandruff is associated with a tiny fungus called Pityrosporum ovale , P.
ovale for short.
This fungus lives on our bodies and
scalp all the time, usually without causing a problem. Unfortunately,
for some people, it can increase in numbers, leading to dandruff.
Additional Causes of Dandruff
Dandruff is seasonal. It is most severe
during the winter and mildest during the summer. The most common symptom
of dandruff is scaling with occasional itching.
Dandruff scales usually occur as small,
round, white-to-gray patches on top of the head. Scaling can occur
anywhere on the scalp, in the hair, on the eyebrows, the beard and can
spread to the neck and shoulders.
Dandruff is often known as "dry scalp",
but people with oily scalps tend to suffer most. An oily scalp also
supports the growth of P. ovale.
Dandruff & Baldness
As always, myths and rumors pervade any
type of hair or scalp condition. For many years the common belief was
held that untreated dandruff would eventually lead or contribute to
Current thinking does not support these
original beliefs. Many people, both men and women, live under the fear
that dandruff may lead to baldness. Although these conditions may occur
at the same time, there is absolutely no known or documented evidence
that baldness is related to dandruff.
Traditional Treatments For Dandruff
The most common dandruff treatments are
- pyrithione zinc
- salicylic acid
- selenium sulfide
Daily shampooing with thorough rinsing
has been the treatment recommended until the present.
Since dandruff is a natural process, it
can not be eliminated. It can only be managed and controlled.
Traditional Dandruff Shampoos
In the very beginning of the
development of products for dandruff there were very few retail products
One of the best known was Head &
Shoulders. Early products also included Enden, Banish, Fostex, Rinse
Away and Double Danderine.
The current offerings have changed
quite a bit and have become a lot more sophisticated. I can not
personally offer a recommendation on the best product since I have
luckily been spared the dandruff curse.
The best approach is to pick a product
and try it. If the product works and is successful at controlling your
dandruff, continue to use it. It is important to remember that there is
no known "official" cure for dandruff. Once you have the problem the
best that you can hope for is management and control.
If utilization of a retail dandruff
product is used it should be remembered that this product will need to
be continued indefinitely. Once the dandruff shampoo or dandruff
products are discontinued, the dandruff will return.
Thorough cleansing of the scalp and the
hair will keep dandruff flakes out of sight for up to three days. it
takes the scalp up to three days before it can generate a new batch of
A key point to remember is to select
the mildest shampoo possible. Although detergent based shampoos will
clean the hair and scalp well, they often cause drying will will make
the flaking worse.
Treatment In Severe Cases
In severe cases dermatologists will
prescribe a special ointment or lotion that will contain sulfur,
salicylic acid, resorcinol, tar, selenium sulfide and cadmium sulfide.
The concentration and frequency of use is dependent upon the severity of
the case for which it is prescribed.
It is generally agreed that drugstore
products which contain zinc pyritheone or selenium sulfide are the most
effective in ridding the scalp of dandruff flakes.
If a scalp shows signs of redness,
swelling, scabbing, or goeeyness - accompanied by flakes, in all
likelihood there could be another scalp disease involved like psoriasis
With any of these symptoms it is
important to see a physician immediately.
To counteract the inefficient
carbohydrates and fatty-acid metabloization which can cause dandruff,
include plenty of B vitamins in your diet.
Nutritional yeast and raw wheat germ
are two excellent sources of B vitamins, particularly vitamin B6 which
plays an important role in controlling dandruff.
Eggs and cabbage also provide vitamin
B6 in addition to supplying sulfur which is nature's beauty mineral for
daily products may cause dandruff in which case alternative food sources
of vitamin B6 are preferred. Other common allergens which provoke
dandruff are chocolate, nuts and shellfish.
Refined carbohydrates in white flour or
sugar can cause dandruff and should be avoided as much as possible
because they deplete the body of B vitamins. Saturated animal fats and
trans-fatty acids found in margarine or shortening clog the arteries and
interfere with the metabolization of the essential fatty acids. The good
fats, found in nuts and flax seed benefit the body and promote healthy
Supplementing the essential fatty acids
is more important since these are usually lacking. Evening primrose oil
is a good source of gamma linolenic acid (GLA), easily absorbed by the
B6 deficiencies also cause dandruff. To
prevent imbalances, the entire B complex should be included. In
addition, vitamins A and E are important for skin health.
Silica is also recommended for
improving scalp health. It is available in capsules from a vegetable
source and in a liquid gel form.
- Evening primrose oil, two 500 mg
capsules three times daily
- Vitamin B complex, 50 mg twice daily
- Vitamin B6 or Pyridoxal-5-Phosphate,
50 mg twice daily
- Vitamin A, 10,000 IU (not during
- Vitamin E, with mixed tocopherols,
- Silica, 1,000 mg, two 500 mg
Some Natural or Alternative Dandruff
Listed below are some of the current
health food store brands of dandruff shampoo products:
- Nature's Gate Tea Tree
- Nature's Gate Aloe
- Calaguala Fern & Cade Tar Scalp
Treatment Shampoo (Aubrey Organics)
- Selenium Blue Shampoo (Aubrey
- Cedarwood Oil (Karooch Essential
- Eucalyptus Oil (Karooch Essential
- Rosemary Oil (Karooch Essential
- Big Sky Tea Tree Shampoo/conditioner
- Moonshine Recovery Emollient
- White Lightening Scalp Tonic (Prarie
Apple cider vinegar used as the final
hair rinse after a shampoo has proven very effective in balancing the pH
levels of the scalp and controlling dandruff.
Do a rinse that is 1 part of apple
cider vinegar to 3 parts of warm water. Apply cider vinegar can also be
applied directly (undiluted) to the scalp. After the vinegar has had a
chance to soak into the scalp, shampoo with a very mild shampoo.
Garlic and oil of oregano are also
excellent for fighting dandruff. You can take it internally or
externally depending on what seems to work best for your situation.
Alternating hot and cold water on the
head increases circulation to the scalp. Yoga headstands will also help
with circulation. Exercising out in the fresh air will also help with
circulation to the scalp.
Brush your scalp carefully to loosen
scales before shampooing. If you wash your hair daily use small amounts
of baby shampoo. Harsh shampoos will just cause the sebaceous gland to
overcompensate by producing more oil than necessary.
Deep breathing adds oxygen to the body
which will help kill the fungus and overall help circulation.
Sulfur Products Are Beneficial
Onions are high in sulfur. Cut a fresh
onion in half and rub it on the scalp.Wash your hair once a week with a
sulfur based soap.
Avoid hair products that contain
alcohol which dries out the scalp. Also avoid hair dryers which will
also dry the scalp and add to the problem.
Tea Tree Oil & Aloe
Both tea tree oil and aloe is
beneficial in combating dandruff. You can apply the aloe directly from a
leaf of the plant and massage it into the scalp. Be sure to apply a good
conditioner after shampooing since aloe may be drying.
Tea tree oil can be applied directly to
the scalp or added to shampoo.
Dandruff has been proved to respond to
homeopathic treatments, acupuncture and acupressure and special massage.
Cell salts and flower essences also have added benefit.
Before undertaking treatments that
involve serious herbs, cell salts or homeopathy, consult the appropriate
alternative health care provider.