Treating Dandruff

Treating DandruffHave you ever worn a dark-colored shirt and noticed white flakes all over your shoulders? You may have dandruff and you’re not alone. Though the condition is not contagious or harmful, it can be embarrassing. Have no fear, as this is a common experience for many people and we are here to help!

What is dandruff?

Dandruff is the shedding of excessive amounts of dead skin cells that flake off from the scalp. It is often due to an overabundance of oil on the scalp that causes skin cells to build up and shed, creating large oily flakes that are yellow or white. This buildup of skin cells can cause your scalp to become irritated and itchy.

Symptoms and Causes

The main symptoms of dandruff are flakes found in hair, on the scalp, eyebrows or facial hair, and itchy scalp.

There can be various causes of dandruff such as:

  • Irritated skin
  • Oily skin
  • Bad hygiene practices such as not washing your scalp enough
  • Overgrowth of a yeast fungus known as Malassezia
  • Dry skin
  • Skin sensitivity to products
  • Skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema

Dandruff can sometimes be confused with dry scalp. With dry scalp, the skin gets irritated and flakes off due to a lack of moisture on the skin. Dry skin is often experienced on the rest of the body as well along the arms and legs. The flakes differ from dandruff flakes as they are smaller dry flakes but share the same symptom of itchy scalp. Dry scalp can often be improved by using a moisturizing shampoo.


The most effective method in treating and controlling dandruff is to use a dandruff shampoo or a scalp treatment. There are many over-the-counter dandruff shampoos available that contain various active ingredients like zinc pyrithione (used in Head & Shoulders shampoo) which is antibacterial and antifungal or selenium sulfide (used in Selsun Blue) which can slow the rate at which your skin cells die. Dermatologists recommend trying 2-3 with different active ingredients to see which works best for you. Follow the instructions on the bottle and allow the shampoo to sit in your hair for several minutes so that the ingredients can work properly and not just get washed down the drain.

The flaking of dead skin cells is a natural process of the human body. However, dandruff can be prevented and controlled by daily cleansing with gentle shampoos to reduce oiliness, moisturize the scalp, and prevent skin cell buildup with an occasional dandruff shampoo treatment.

If dandruff persists after at-home treatment, schedule an appointment with your dermatologist for other treatment options. You may be prescribed medication to prevent build-up or a prescription shampoo for dandruff treatment. Your dermatologist may also determine that your flaky scalp is the result of another skin condition that may need treatment.

For more information on dandruff or to schedule a consultation, please contact Dayton Skin Care today.

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