Dandruff, also known as the dry, white flakes that reside on your scalp, is a very common condition that affects 50% of the general adult population worldwide. Symptoms of dandruff include skin flakes that can be found on not only the scalp, but also hair, eyebrows, beard, and shoulders. It also causes irritated skin and increased sensitivity to hair care products. 


Dandruff most often appears at the start of young adulthood. This is because hormone levels are high during teen years, and cause the excess production of an oil called sebum. The irritated oily skin then serves as a breeding ground for yeast or fungus, which promotes the quick replication of skin cells and the consequent flaky appearance that is characteristic of Dandruff. A common fungus that triggers Dandruff is called Malassezia. Researchers at Procter & Gamble sequenced the Malassezia genome, and discovered ways to stop the fungus. They found that antibacterial drugs called sulfonamides, which have been around since the 1930s, can inhibit the enzyme that plays a primary role in fungus’ growth. For these reasons, many dandruff shampoos contain antibacterial and antifungal agents that can help eradicate unhealthy growth from the scalp and give the hair a more nourishing, glowing look. 


The following are a list of shampoos that are generally recommended for Dandruff: 

  1. Pyrithione Zinc shampoos (i.e DermaZinc, Head & Shoulders, Jason Dandruff Relief 2 in 1) — the product contains antibacterial and antifungal agent Zinc Pyrithione
  2. Tar-based shampoos (Neutrogena T/Gel) — Coal Tar slows down skin cell growth and flaking. Keep in mind that this shampoo may cause discoloration and increase scalp sensitivity to sunlight. 
  3. Shampoos containing Salicylic acid (Neutrogena T/Sal, Baker’s P & S, others) — These products eliminate the scalp’s scale-like appearance. 
  4. Selenium sulfide shampoos (Head & Shoulders Intensive, Selsun Blue, others) — contain an antifungal agent. These products can discolor the hair and scalp so rinse well after shampooing. 
  5. Ketoconazole shampoos (Nizoral A-D) — the product contains ketoconazole, a synthetic antifungal agent. This is available over-the-counter or by prescription. 


If one type of shampoo loses its effectiveness, you may alternate between two different shampoos for maximum scalp improvement. Initially, use the medicated shampoo one to three times per week and then taper to less than once per week for maintenance and prevention. 


In addition to implementing the right shampoos into your daily routine, there are numerous other home remedies you can utilize to treat dandruff. You can get to the core root of the issue by first managing your stress in a healthy manner. Stress prevention will prevent hormonal imbalances, and subsequent sebum production and dandruff. Diet is also incredibly important. A diet lacking in essential fatty acids can lead to a dry scalp, so ensure you’re incorporating omega-3 fatty acid-rich foods in your meals such as fatty fish, flaxseeds, canola oil, soybeans, pumpkin seeds and walnuts. Also, spend time in the sun, since sunlight helps suppress fungus growth on your scalp. Make sure you wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF greater than 30 to protect your skin while going outdoors.


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