Dandruff: what you need to know

When you were travelling on the bus or walking in the street, have you noticed people with white flakes on their shoulders? Or while you used to have healthy scalp, suddenly you find yourself having dandruff? Although in most cases dandruff is not a serious health problem, people feel self-conscious about it. 

  1. What is dandruff?

It takes our skin, including our scalp, 28 days to renew itself completely. It is normal for our skin to peel off aka “exfoliate”. However, the problem arises when our skin exfoliates excessively. Dandruff flakes land on the collars of our shirt or on our shoulders causing embarrassment. There are two types of dandruff: the dry skin dandruff and the oily skin dandruff.

  1. How do I know which type of dandruff I have?

The dry skin dandruff usually occurs during winter due to the cold dry air and the hot water we use to wash our hair. It appears as small and white flaky bits.

The oily skin dandruff occurs when our sebaceous glands, which protect and moisturise our skin, produce excessive sebum. The excess oil clumps together and irritates our scalp. It appears as yellow and chunky flakes that do not fall off as easily.

  1. Are there other causes of dandruff?

Yes, there are many causes. Dandruff could be caused by skin hypersensitivity, stress, eczema, genetics, and fungal infections. Or it could be due to underlying skin conditions such as psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis.

  1. Besides dandruff, what other symptoms might I experience?

Some common symptoms are oily hair, redness of the scalp or development of red patches on the scalp.

  1. There are so many products for dandruff on the market, how can I choose the most suitable one?

If your dandruff is caused by dry skin, then using moisturising ingredients such as Colloidal Oatmeal shampoo and conditioner can provide symptomatic relief as well as treating the root of the problem. 

If your dandruff is caused by skin hypersensitivity, you should first find out what you are allergic to. Eliminating the source of allergy should treat the root of the problem.

However, if your dandruff is caused by fungal infection, most commonly by a yeast that normally lives on your skin called Malassezia furfur, then usually Ketoconazole, an anti-fungal agent, is used. You should consult the pharmacist before using products with this ingredient.

Just a little more information for you if you are interested! You might also have noticed ingredients such as Selenium Sulphide or Zinc Pyrithione on the bottles of the shampoo. These work as antifungal agents and decrease the exfoliating process. In addition, coal tar oil relieves psoriasis, decreases exfoliation, and suppresses oil production. You may also see Salicylic acid, which is present in many skincare products. It works by chemically peeling the dead layer of your skin off.

If you want to understand and know more about which treatment is suitable for your dandruff, please feel free to consult the pharmacist.

  1. Are there any adverse effects of these products I should watch out for?

Some common adverse effects include sudden onset of itchiness, redness, swelling and pain shortly after using these products. More severe adverse effects include change in hair texture, colour and loss of hair. If you notice any of these symptoms, stop using the product immediately and consult your pharmacist or doctor.

  1. How do I use these products safely?

Here are some tips for using these products safely:

  • Avoid using the products on broken skin.
  • The products are for external use only.
  • Note that different products have their own method of use. Read the product label carefully before using!

If your dandruff situation has not improved after 2-4 weeks of using medicated shampoo or there are signs of redness, swelling, bleeding or allergic reactions, stop using the product immediately and consult your doctor.

If you are interested in knowing more about dandruff or finding a suitable treatment for yourself, feel free to contact Health in Action Pharmacists via the phone 3612-9515 or through WhatsApp 6618-9212.

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