Flaky issues getting you down?
You can win the battle against dandruff.
You take pride in your appearance, dress impeccably but sadly that snowy cloud on your shoulders always lets you down. Flaky as it may seem, dandruff is a huge problem for many, with the first signs showing up in the late teens when puberty hits and hormones go into overdrive. In fact, compared to women, men fare much worse with dandruff. According to experts, dandruff can be either dry or greasy, and is believed to be caused by a fat eating fungus called Malassezia that lives on the scalp of most healthy adults. Problems start when Malassezia multiply rapidly and start feeding on the oil on your scalp. The result: increased cell turnover and dead skin cells. When those cells combine with dirt and oil from your hair and scalp you see those dreaded flakes that fall incessantly on your shoulders. As you probably already know, dandruff can occur on both a dry or oily scalp, and the problem seems to get worse at certain times of the year. Extreme climate changes and dryness can worsen dandruff, but the weather isn’t the only culprit here.
Take a deep breath.
Anxiety and stress acerbate most diseases, so the first thing you should try and do is relax. Not only will stress put you on edge but it will worsen the dandruff symptoms. “In fact,” says skin and scalp specialist Dr. Dhimant Goleria, “the first thing I ask a patient with a very bad case of dandruff is, ‘Have you been under a lot of stress recently?’” There’s plenty of research that suggests that dandruff flare-ups are worst when immunity is compromised. From the nutrition point of view you would do well to make sure you limit the amount of coffee, soft drinks, alcohol and junk food in your diet. Eat your daily five, stay hydrated, don’t leave long gaps between meals and get enough zzzzs. Another way to boost your immunity is by taking a multivitamin daily to ensure you’re getting all the vitamins and minerals you need. Try Nature’s Bounty Prescriptive Formulas Optimal Vitamin Packs Men’s.
It’s ironical that while most doctors advise you to wash less frequently to prevent skin related flare-ups, this is one condition that is actually benefitted from shampooing more often. You need to shampoo regularly not because the dandruff is making your scalp dirty but because frequent shampooing washes out the sebum or oil on your scalp that the fungus feeds on, thus cutting off its food supply. For this no ordinary shampoo will do. You need to use a formula that has a medicinal effect on your scalp. Look for a formulation that contains at least one of these ingredients:
- Zinc Pyrithione;
- Selenium Sulfide
- Salicylic Acid; and
Ideally your go-to shampoo should contain Zinc Pyrithione and/or Selenium Sulfide because these two agents slow down the scaling process. Nykaa recommends Kerastase Specifique Bain Exfoliant Hydratant Anti-Dandruff Moisturising, Vichy Dercos Treatment Shampoo Anti-Dandruff – Balancing (Normal To Greasy Hair), Sebamed Anti-Dandruff Shampoo and Pantene Pro-V Anti Dandruff Shampoo). You should lather up at least twice weekly though many of these formulations are gentle enough to be used daily. Dr. Goleria advises switching brands every couple of months because “every brand contains different ingredients and using the same shampoo for too long can make your scalp immune to its effects.”
Reconnect with your scalp.
It’s important to not just lather up and wash out the formula for your hair. The real work needs to be done on the scalp and so you need to get the shampoo directly on it and massage well. “Finger to scalp contact is important for the formula to do its work,” says Dr. Goleria. To boost the efficacy of the shampoo you could also try using specialized leave-in lotions in between washes like Kaya Anti Dandruff Lotion or Schwarzkopf Bonacure Dandruff Control Fluid that are specially formulated to kill dandruff at the roots.
Never use hot water.
It might be tempting to rinse out all that sebum with hot water while you shower but like it does to your face, excessive heat causes rebound oiliness and inflammation, making dandruff worse. Instead, always use tepid or cool water to shampoo.
Dry hair properly.
Make sure you wash your hair in the a.m. and let it either air dry or blow dry, especially at night. “Washing hair in the evening before bedtime to shave off time from your morning routine isn’t a good idea because wet hair is a breeding ground for the fungus,” says Dr. Goleria. Remember, warm, moist environments favors yeast (and dandruff) production so make sure your scalp is completely dry. This means no oil massages either. Finally, if you get caught in the rain, towel dry hair as best you can.