Is it really dandruff?

By Drum Digital
23 July 2014

How do you know if your dandruff is just dandruff, a false alarm, or a real symptom of something else entirely?

If you’ve used every dandruff treatment in the book and still can’t seem to beat the flakes, it might be that you are really fighting something other than dandruff.

Real dandruff is believed to be caused by excessive growth of a fungus called malasezzia. 

Malesezzia is naturally found on the scalp in non-dandruff sufferers, but the fungal population is out of control in those with dandruff.

Experts aren't sure why malassezia multiplies on the scalp, but many attribute its growth to having excessive oil on the scalp from infrequent washing, a compromised immune system, poor diet, or hormonal changes in the body.

In most cases a standard shampoo regimen will clear up dandruff in a few weeks.

False Alarms:

1. Dry Scalp

Dry scalp is commonly mistaken for dandruff.

Products like shampoo and soap tend to dry the scalp out.

Weather change, water with a high mineral content or pH, and using water that is too hot can also cause dryness.

Chemical treatments like relaxers, texturizers, or hair coloring products and over-drying the hair when blow drying may also cause dry scalp.

Add more fish, citrus fruit, nuts and leafy green veggies to your diet to nourish your hair, skin and entire body from within.

Note that it can take three months of good nutrition or more before the results improve.

2. Product Buildup

Product buildup and less than thorough rinsing can also lead to dandruff-like conditions.

Conditioner is the number one culprit here - if efforts aren’t taken to gently agitate or free conditioner that has settled close to the scalp, you will be in for an itchy, flaky scalp.

3. Psoriasis and Seborrheic Dermatitis

Sometimes real dandruff can be a symptom of some other scalp conditions and making a distinction between plain dandruff, psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis can be tricky.

What really helps distinguish the conditions from one another is the degree and kind of flaking you tend to get.

In psoriasis and seborrhea, dandruff is usually the main symptom among other symptoms like redness and crusting, for example.

Psoriasis tends to produce thicker, drier looking scales of skin than seborrhea does— and it also tends to appear on other parts of the body too like the knees and the elbows.

Seborrhea tends to produce an oilier kind of flake.

A quick visit to the dermatologist will help you figure out if your dandruff is just dandruff, a false alarm, or if you’ve got a dandruff as a symptom of something else.

Treatments for these conditions has become advanced and is relatively easy to access, too.


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