Which dandruff treatment should I choose?

Dandruff affects one in every two people(1), so it is very common.
It is thought to be triggered by three distinct factors: a dysfunction in sebum production, which then causes proliferation of a yeast present on the scalp’s surface, and a particular scalp sensitivity specific to each person. There are different treatments for eliminating dandruff. But you must first identify the type of dandruff to choose the right solution.



Why treat dandruff?

It is important to deal with and treat dandruff. If left untreated, the condition of the scalp could deteriorate, become more irritated, and cause even more dandruff. Fortunately, there are now many treatments available in pharmacies to fight dandruff.

To combat dandruff, you need to choose shampoos that act on one or more of its causes.
Shampoos with an antifungal action (to fight yeasts of the genus Malassezia) and a keratolytic action to eliminate dead cells from the surface or an anti-inflammatory action to soothe the scalp.

But before choosing the right treatment, it is important to identify the type of dandruff in the hair. It may be dry, i.e. fine, non-sticky and volatile, and end up on clothes; or oily, in which case it is more likely to stick to the hair and scalp and be larger, because it clumps together. There is also a more severe form of dandruff, dermatitis or seborrheic dermatitis, characterized by larger quantities of dandruff, referred to as scales, and accompanied by severe scalp inflammation, redness and severe itching.

Some good habits for fighting dandruff

In addition to dandruff treatments, there are some good habits and hygiene tips that can help to eliminate dandruff. If you have oily hair, for example, you do not need to wash it every day, on the contrary, as using shampoo too frequently may make it more greasy. On the other hand, if you have a dry scalp which you tend to wash just once a week, you need to impose a stricter hygiene regime, even if it does not seem necessary.

In this case, it is recommended that you wash your hair 2 or 3 times a week using suitable products formulated specifically for your hair type.

A few tips for preventing hair from becoming oily:

  • Avoid running your hand through your hair all the time
  • Loosen your cap/hat/bandana and/or wear it less to allow the hair to breathe
  • Remember to clean your comb and your brush to remove traces of sebum
  • Use less styling gel and hairspray - You can also use dry shampoo to avoid washing your hair as often while still having the impression that it is clean

And if you have a dry scalp, opt for gentle, moisturizing shampoos.

Treating dandruff

There are lots of anti-dandruff solutions in pharmacies today.
All anti-dandruff shampoos act on the different causes and some also have a specific action on the scalp. There are complementary treatments too, such as anti-dandruff masks and lotions.
Today’s treatments have largely proven their effectiveness; all active treatments against yeasts of the genus Malassezia have been proven to be effective in overcoming dandruff.

So the treatments work well, but only if you choose the right ones! It is therefore important to ask your pharmacist or doctor for advice. And, of course, treatments will be effective only if used as recommended in the product instructions and by the health professionals who advised you.

How do I wash my hair "correctly"?

It is something we do several times a week, automatically, without even thinking about it.
But are we doing it right?
You must wash your hair in several steps:

  • Brush the hair to remove any tangles before washing
  • Once wet, spread the shampoo over your hands before applying it to the scalp
  • Massage your scalp with the fingertips so that active ingredients are better absorbed
  • Rinse thoroughly
  • Reapply shampoo a second time if specified in the instructions for use
  • Rinse, gently squeeze out the excess water, then dab the hair in a towel without rubbing

A treatment is not a cure

If used properly, all the available treatments will effectively eliminate your dandruff – but they cannot control all the factors responsible for dandruff. Stress is a good example! This is why dandruff tends to return. It is therefore important to understand how the treatment works in order to rapidly control a dandruff flare-up.

(1) Byung In Ro and Thomas L. Dawsonw, The Role of Sebaceous Gland Activity and Scalp Microfloral Metabolism in the Etiology of Seborrheic Dermatitis and Dandruff. Department of Dermatology, College of Medicine, Chung Ang University, Seoul, Korea.

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