More than just dry skin, dandruff is a skin condition that can leave the skin riddled with flakes and excessively oily! Guide your care of this skin condition with appropriate skincare.
Is dry scalp making you feel like a flake? Don’t feel blue; dandruff and dry scalp are common skincare conditions that can affect men, women and children. And although a challenging skin condition, dandruff isn't impossible to manage. Research treatment options, invest in a few dandruff specific hair treatments, and you'll be flake-free and wearing black again in no time.
What is it?
Dandruff may seem like a dirty word, but did you know that there are actually several types of this skin condition? Dry scalp may be caused by changes in the air, in particular the forced dryness of air conditioning or heat, contact dermatitis, over-productive sebaceous glands or even stress.
New research on dandruff has discovered that dandruff may actually be the result of a yeast-like fungus called Pityrosporum ovale. According to mayoclinic.com, this fungus "sometimes....grows out of control, feeding on the oils secreted by your hair follicles and causing irritation that leads to increased cell turnover. The result is a large number of dead skin cells....." The isolation of this fungus can help lead researchers to new treatments for dandruff and possibly even a cure.
How do you get it?
One of the most common forms of dandruff, often caused by Seborrheic dermatitis, is attributed to over-active oil production by the sebaceous glands. With this type of dandruff, excess oil on the scalp mixes with dead skin cells, causing them to cluster together and form clumps of crusty, yellowish, oily flakes. Often, the scalp will itch or burn and flakes can also be found on other oily areas of the skin, including around the eyebrows or even the nose.
The cause of seborrheic dermatitis is not well understood. It is not contagious nor due to any infectious agents. There is some relationship between this condition and a skin disease called psoriasis. In fact, some individuals with severe cases of seborrheic dermatitis are later found to have psoriasis. A certain amount of dead skin cells (flakes) and oil is normal on all skin, however; the when either of these two substances are over-produced by the body, the result is often a form of seborrheic dermatitis.
So, why is excess oil or flakey skin a problem? Because the bacteria thought to be a cause of dandruff actually consume this dead skin, and in turn, produce a by-product that irritates the scalp or skin, causing redness, inflammation and itch. Even worse, the body then tries to remove the irritant by producing more oil, effectively prolonging the condition. Unless steps are taken to decrease the excess oil on the scalp, and exfoliate away the dead skin, bacteria will continue to thrive on the scalp, and the condition will persist.
Hormones also play a role in this condition. Since the amount of oil flow is controlled by changes in certain hormones, any circumstance that affects these hormones can make seborrheic dermatitis worse. Such things as nervousness, stress, normal control pills and age are factors here.
Unfortunately, at present there is no known way to completely cure dandruff and most treatment is designed to control symptoms, rather than cure the disease. However, the good new is, so long as a treatment program is followed, most patients achieve improvement and control.
No matter the cause of dandruff, a best bet to beat flakes is to wash the hair every other day with a shampoo designed to reduce dandruff scales and be sure to use a lightweight, yet moisturizing conditioner to help prevent excess dryness. Look for a medicated shampoo; these medications will deposit ingredients on the scalp to slow the growth rate of bacteria, as well as to loosen scales and slow down their rate or formation.
Environmental or weather-induced dryness is mostly seen at the change of the seasons and during the summer and winter. Because both air-conditioning and heat reduce the amount of moisture or humidity in the air, they can cause the scalp and skin to become dry, irritable and prone to flakes. One way to help combat dry scalp is to invest in an at-home humidifier. Used during the winter, humidifiers will introduce much-needed moisture back into your house. Not only will your scalp and hair benefit from this extra moisture, your sinuses will, as well.
Tea-tree based shampoos and conditioners are a great addition to your skincare routine if you notice flakes. Try Philip B Anti Flake Relief Shampoo. The natural anti-septic and anti-fungal properties of tea tree oil will help stimulate the scalp and prevent a build-up of dry skin.
When dandruff is actually an oily-skin condition, treatment needs to address the oiliness, as well as the flakes. Shampoos with coal tar, which will help slow down cell turnover can be helpful, as can salicylic acid treatments which will help normalize oil production and rid the scalp of flakes; try NeoCeuticals Treatment Scalp Solution. With menthol and alpha-hydroxy acid, this solution will soothe the itch and help reduce flakes.
In order to get the upper hand on dandruff, you need to determine the cause of the flakes and how to treat the dry skin that is already irritated. Not surprisingly, a variety of products can cause dermatitis including: nickel, chemical hair products such as colorants or perms, pigments in make-up, fragrance, certain foods and even some fabrics. To that end, try using hair care that has few, or fewer chemicals and minimizing exposure to products that can cause an allergic reaction. As with all forms of dandruff, treating the symptoms is only one step in a long process.