Even the stars get Dandruff
For many people the first time we saw Jane Seymour was not as Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman, but using her flowing tresses to sell us Head and Shoulders to treat dandruff, which has been described as “The Most Commonly Exploited Skin Disease” by a group of researchers in a paper published in 2000.
It may not have launched her career but it certainly got her noticed, as dandruff is a problem that many people have experienced at some stage in their life. In fact at any one time up to 20% of the population may be suffering from the symptoms of dandruff. Marked by itching and flaking of the scalp dandruff is usually diagnosed by the sufferers themselves and treated at home. The root cause of dandruff is not known but we do know that it is not about the hair, it is about the scalp, and skin cells growing and dying off too fast and then leaving the scalp as flakes of dead skin. It can run in families and the severity of the flaking and frequency of bouts vary from person to person. Stress can be a factor and many people may have found the recent cold, dry weather has triggered a bout of dandruff or made it worse. If you have dandruff, don’t let it get you down – lots of other people have it too and there are lots of ways to tackle it.
Surprisingly, simply brushing your hair regularly can be a good way to begin coping with dandruff. Because an oily scalp is related to skin flaking away as dandruff, brushing the hair with steady firm strokes carrying the oil down the shaft of the hair away from the skin can help.
Anti-dandruff shampoos are used successfully by many people and there are many to choose from. Coal tar, sulphur, selenium, salicylic acid, ketoconazole and tea tree oil are some of the active ingredients commonly found in anti-dandruff shampoos and it can be helpful to swap one for another if it seems to be becoming less effective against flaking as they all act in different ways, some being anti-fungal, others affecting rate of cell turnover and so on.
Is it Dandruff at all?
Of course, flaking, itchy skin on the scalp is not always dandruff and if you are not finding that your condition is improving or if it does not seem like ordinary dandruff in the first place there are other conditions which cause itchy, flaking scalp.
Probably the most common of these in numerical terms is seborrhoeic dermatitis (also known as seborrhoeic eczema or seborrhoea) which is similar in that it usually affects the scalp, causing itching, redness and flaking on the scalp but it can also involve the face, down the sides of the nose, in the eyebrows, eyelids, in and around the ears and the groin and upper back and chest in men. The severity of seborrhoeic dermatitis is often related to stress and because it affects more than the scalp can be very damaging to self-esteem while, because it is so itchy, it can make the sufferer irritable and tense.
Globally up to 10% of the world’s population are thought to suffer from some degree of seborrhoeic dermatitis which is believed to be an inflammatory response to yeasts, particularly a yeast (or fungus) which lives on us all, called Malassezia which occurs naturally on the skin but is present in larger quantities on oily areas, related to the sebaceous glands which produce the sebum secretions. For this reason many preparations used for seborrhoeic dermatitis involve anti-fungal agents such as ketoconazole and often the other preparations I have already mentioned, although areas can become so involved they require specialist attention and sometimes steroids.
The sole product we produce which contains any essential oils is the Health Scrub Bar which many people have found very helpful for relieving the symptoms of seborrhoeic dermatitis. We put this down to the very small concentration of naturally antifungal tea tree oil since it does not contain any chemical pharmaceutical ingredients.
Not Seborrhoeic dermatitis?
Other conditions which may cause flaking of the scalp include psoriasis, eczema, and ringworm, which is also a fungal condition. Occasionally dandruff can be related to reactions to drugs so if you have resistant dandruff and you are taking medication it might be something to check out.
Something to think about
In babies cradle cap is a form of seborrhoeic dermatitis caused by yeasts and interestingly, in Africa, Shea butter is used to treat and prevent fungal/yeast infections, from Athlete’s foot to sweat rashes. I don’t know if it’s a coincidence but pure Shea butter is increasingly being recommended as an all natural treatment for cradle cap, softening and loosening the scaly deposits and allowing them to be gently washed away. For the time being the online comments we read on the mums web forums relate to the ability of the shea butter to simply soften the crust but who knows? We don’t have the research yet to show when the Shea Butter can eliminate fungal conditions by providing a physical barrier to their oxygen supply (as has been suggested to me by a leading cosmetic chemist) but it would be a great boost for all the women in Africa who rely on Shea butter to provide them with a Fair-trade income if we could find out!
FAQS AND TOP TIPS ON DANDRUFF
How can I get rid of dandruff?
Getting rid of dandruff flakes can be achieved in a number of ways:
1. Using The Health Scrub Bar can help get rid of dandruff flakes from the hair as it contains exfoliating seaweed and refreshing tea tree oil. Regular shampooing with the Health Scrub Bar has been helpful for many dandruff sufferers.
2. Brushing your hair. An oily scalp is related to dandruff and brushing the oil down the hair shafts can help.
How can I stop dandruff?
1. Keep your scalp warm. Cold weather can make dandruff worse so keeping your head warm may help prevent a breakout of flaking.
2. The Health Scrub Bar contains anti fungal Tea tree oil so regular use may be helpful in reducing the flaking if your dandruff is related to Melassezia
3. Try to avoid unnecessary stress. Stress is linked to dandruff so reducing stress in daily life may help your scalp.
How can I treat dandruff?
1. There are many types of anti dandruff shampoo available but people often find that their scalp seems to get used to them and they need to swap around between them.
2. Sometimes dandruff can be so severe that sufferers need to see their doctor for advice and to be sure they are not missing a disease that causes flaking of the scalp, such as seborrhoeic dermatitis which is form of eczema or psoriasis.
3. The Health Scrub Bar is very handy if you are prone to dandruff as you can shampoo, shower and shave with the one product, it will wash away excess oils and the exfoliating seaweed will help remove flakes of dandruff, saving time and energy.
How can dandruff be cured?
Dandruff can run in families and there is no complete answer to curing it. It can be related to hormones and your age group.
The best option in this case is to find the method that suits you best for controlling it. Regular hair brushing, avoiding cold weather affecting your scalp and reducing stress can all help, as can regular use of a good shampoo.
There are many shampoos on the market and it depends which one suits your particular scalp the best, bearing in mind that it sometimes becomes necessary to change and give the scalp a rest from one type and choose another for a while.
If your dandruff is caused by seborrhoeic dermatitis you may need to see your doctor who can prescribe medication to deal with it.
Is there a Natural Shampoo for dandruff?
The Health Scrub Bar is very popular with anyone who enjoys having the convenience of one single product to wash, shave and shampoo.
Because of this The Health Scrub Bar has been found to be very popular with sufferers from seborrhoeic dermatitis as it is 100% natural and has all the benefits of mineral rich exfoliating seaweed and refreshing essential lavender and tea tree oils, pure jojoba oil and vitamin E. Because it does not contain detergents it can be used all over the body at the same time as shampooing. Flakes are washed away and skin and hair are left conditioned and moisturised