Dandruff is one of the worst enemies of nice looking, healthy hair. It is considered to be both a cosmetic and a medical issue, since its causes may involve infections and various skin problems.
What is dandruff?
Dandruff basically consists of small, white or yellowish flakes of dead skin. It can be associated with dry scalp, where the top layer of the skin sheds faster than normally, or it can occur due to excessively oily scalp. Certain infections, such as fungus, are also associated with dandruff.
Some degree of flaking of the scalp is normal for everyone. The cycle of skin regeneration and shedding occurs according to a pattern, and when the time comes for the dead skin cells to shed, the appearance of dandruff can be increased.
Other scalp conditions
On the other hand, dandruff associated with seborrheic dermatitis is an actual medical condition, although it is not at all dangerous or serious. It involves skin inflammation, redness and flaking, which, if affecting the scalp, manifests in form of dandruff. Seborrheic dermatitis can affect other body regions, usually skin folds, face, shoulders, back and chest.
Unlike normal shedding of dead skin cells, dandruff caused by seborrheic dermatitis does require medical treatment of some sort.
Prevention of dandruff
There are several ways to prevent dandruff from occurring in the first place. Using special anti-dandruff or anti-fungal shampoos once a week is a good idea for people who are prone to dandruff and have suffered from it in the past.
Certain self-care steps can also be helpful. Scratching of the scalp, even if it is very itchy, should be avoided, because it dislodges the larger flakes that are particularly visible on the hair and shoulders.
Brushing the hair on daily basis and washing it at least three times a week should be a part of regular grooming routine. Shampoos, conditioners and other hair products should be mild and pH-neutral. Heavily scented or colored products can irritate the scalp. It is very important to rinse the hair carefully and thoroughly after shampooing, using lukewarm water, not very cold or very hot.
Chemical products, such as bleach and hair dye, should be avoided. The same goes for excessive use of styling products, such as gels, sprays and foams. They not only irritate the scalp but they actually create a build-up on the hair shaft, which, as it dries and falls off, may resemble dandruff.
Dandruff is also associated with stress and improper nutrition. Avoiding stress, habits like alcohol consumption and smoking and living a generally healthy lifestyle, are important parts of prevention of dandruff.