Friday 15 December 2017

Dear Dr Nina: What are the best treatments for dandruff?

Man brushing dandruff off his shoulder.
Man brushing dandruff off his shoulder.

Nina Byrnes

Dandruff results in flaking and scaling of the scalp and is often a chronic condition. Scales that fall from the scalp are often a source of embarrassment and concern to those who suffer.

Dandruff is more common in men. It tends to start in early adulthood but can occur at any age. A healthy diet is important. Adequate intake of zinc, B vitamins and healthy fats are essential to scalp health. Malassezia is a yeast like fungus that lives on the scalp. In some people this causes irritation which can lead to dandruff. Those who have oily hair and scalp are also at risk. Other less understood risks are chronic neurological conditions, HIV, stress and those with compromised immune systems.

The most common cause of dandruff is dry skin. Seborrhoea dermatitis, which causes a greasy irritated scalp, is also a common cause. Other skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis can also cause dandruff. Infrequent washing of your hair or sensitivity to hair car products can also cause dandruff.

Zinc pyrithione is the active component of the best-known anti dandruff shampoos and may help. Coal tar can be found in a number of different shampoos. Salicylic acid base preparations will allow the scales to flake off but can lead to quite a dry scalp. Selenium sulphide is another product that may help. Ketoconazole works on the fungus found on the scalp and can be very effective in some cases. If none of these remedies have worked and the scalp is particularly irritated adding in a prescription steroid based lotion may help.

If you suffer with recurrent bouts dandruff wash your hair regularly with a product designed for dandruff. Try and keep stress to a minimum. Eat a healthy diet risk in zinc, B vitamins and health fats. Limit the use of styling products.

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