Hailstorm on my shoulder
Dandruff is common, and bad cases often cause white or yellow flakes of skin to appear on the scalp and in the hair.
I AM really sick of having dandruff. It always falls on my shoulders, and I cannot wear dark clothes because of that. When I comb my hair, it looks like a hailstorm. What is dandruff?
Dandruff is a condition of your scalp caused by flaking of your skin. It is dead skin.
It is not a serious disease. Yes, but it is annoying! What causes it? There are many causes:
● Seborrheic dermatitis – This is one of the commonest causes for dandruff. It is an inflammation of the sebum (oil) glands on your scalp, and it causes irritated and oily skin.
Here, the skin becomes red and greasy, and also becomes covered with flaky white or yellow scales.
The scalp is not the only area that can be affected. Any other area of the skin that has plenty of oil glands, such as the eyebrows, the sides of your nose, the backs of your ears, your groin area, and your armpits can also be affected.
● If you don’t shampoo your hair often enough – If you don’t wash your hair at least once every two or three days, oil and skin cells from your scalp can build up, causing dandruff.
● Malassezia (a yeast-like fungal infection) – This yeast lives on the scalps of most adults, especially those people who have very oily scalps.
The yeast itself consumes the oils on your scalp! For most adults, the yeast does not cause any problems. But for some people, it irritates their scalps and causes more skin cells to grow. The excess skin cells die and drop. They look white and flaky.
● Dry scalp skin – There are problems from being too oily, and also problems from being too dry. Here, the skin flakes are smaller and less oily than those from other causes of dandruff. Redness or inflammation is also unlikely. The rest of the skin on your body, such as your face, is likely to be dry too.
● Contact dermatitis – Sensitivities to certain ingredients in hair care products or hair dyes can cause a red, itchy, scaly scalp. This should be apparent after you try a new product.
My sister and I use the same hair care products, and we have the same habits when it comes to shampooing our hair. How come I have dandruff and she doesn’t?
You may have certain conditions that your sister does not. For example, age is a determinant. Dandruff occurs more often in younger adults than older ones. It tends to continue to plague you throughout your middle age.
Older people can still get dandruff, but this is less likely. For some people, they are plagued with it for the rest of their lives!
You may also have malassezia and your sister doesn’t. Even though you may be sisters, your skin may be oiler than hers.
Some people with certain diseases like HIV, conditions where your immune system is suppressed, or Parkinson’s disease, are more likely to develop dandruff than others.
Does dandruff get worse in certain conditions?
Any condition that promotes dry skin or oily skin can contribute to dandruff.
For example, if you sleep in an air-conditioned room all the time and work in an air-conditioned office. Or if you use certain types of shampoos that make your scalp too greasy or too dry.
How can I treat it?
It is important to note that one treatment may work on one person, and not another. So try different things to see what works best for you.
Use a gentle shampoo daily if you have oily hair. This can help reduce the oils and dead skin build-up.
There are certain dandruff shampoos you can buy over the counter. Again, different types of shampoos work for different people. You will know if a certain shampoo does not work for you if you experience redness, itchiness or burning after you use it.
Then there are strong dandruff control shampoos that you can get from the doctor. The doctor may even prescribe a steroid if things get too bad.
My cousin was given an anti-fungal shampoo. Does it really work?
Yes, for some people. There are generally different compounds in different dandruff shampoos.
There are pyrithione zinc shampoos – zinc pyrithione is an antibacterial and antifungal agent.
Then there are tar based shampoos. Coal tar is a product of the coal manufacturing process. It is especially good for seborrheic dermatitis. It slows the speed of growth and death of the skin cells on your scalp.
Then there are salicylic acid shampoos. These eliminate scaling, but may leave your scalp dry, so you have to use it with a conditioner.
There are selenium sulfide shampoos and also ketoconazole shampoos.
Try using one of these shampoos daily or every other day until your dandruff is controlled, then cut back to two or three times a week.
Dr YLM graduated as a medical doctor, and has been writing for many years on various subjects such as medicine, health, computers and entertainment. For further information, e-mail email@example.com. The information contained in this column is for general educational purposes only. Neither The Star nor the author gives any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to such information. The Star and the author disclaim all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.
Dandruff can be caused by any number of things, including dry skin, various skin conditions and sensitivity to hair care products.