Help! How Do I Help Control My Dandruff?

May 11, 2020
Samantha Holender
By: Samantha Holender | by L'Oréal
Help! How Do I Help Control My Dandruff?

Dandruff can be difficult to manage. This skin condition can cause everything from incessant itching and irritation to inflammation and an abundance of white flakes. But thankfully, having dandruff doesn’t have to be your scalp’s new normal. Even though seborrheic dermatitis (which dandruff is a form of) isn’t curable, it is manageable. To learn how to manage dandruff and control flakes, we consulted with experts and board-certified dermatologists Dr. Hadley King and Dr. Caren Campbell. Ahead, find out what they had to say about fighting flakes and soothing your skin

What Is Dandruff? 

While you may think that dandruff is a result of having a dry scalp, chances are the dryness is likely a result of inflammation. “Seborrheic dermatitis, or dandruff, is an inflammatory condition of the scalp that is very common,” says Dr. King. “The skin on the scalp can become red, dry and flaky but symptoms often come and go.” Dr. Campbell adds that the inflammation results from a buildup or overproduction of yeast on the scalp. This causes the formation of greasy scales and itching. What’s more, flare-ups are more likely when the weather turns cold and dry or stress kicks into overdrive. 

While seborrheic dermatitis is the most common form of dandruff, the condition could also be a result of allergic contact dermatitis or psoriasis. “Allergic contact dermatitis is due to an allergic reaction to products or dyes applied to the scalp,” says Dr. Campbell. “Another reason for dandruff is psoriasis, a genetic disorder made worse by modifiable lifestyle factors like smoking, alcohol, stress, obesity or trauma to the scalp such as sunburn.” To determine the cause of your dandruff, dryness or flaking and the best way to address it, make sure to consult with a board-certified dermatologist. 

How to Help Control Dandruff

While dandruff, specifically seborrheic dermatitis, is not curable, it is manageable. From switching up your hair care routine to topical prescriptions, below are some ways you can help restore scalp’s balance. . 

Tip #1: Choose Products Wisely

Dr. King recommends looking for shampoos containing anti-fungal ingredients. “A yeast found on the scalp named malassezia can contribute to the inflammatory response in seborrhea, so ingredients with antifungal properties can help decrease the malassezia and thereby decrease the inflammation.” She says that selenium sulfide, pyrithione zinc, salicylic acid, and coal tar are ingredients to look for. For example, selenium sulfide can decrease irritation and itching and pyrithione zinc has antimicrobial properties that soothe irritation The L’Oréal EverFresh Anti-Dandruff Shampoo is formulated with 1% pyrithione zinc to help stop itching, irritation and flakes due to dandruff when used as directed. Follow with the L’Oreal Paris EverFresh Balancing Conditioner.   

Tip #2: Wash Your Hair Every Day 

Given that seborrheic dermatitis is more a result of flaking, red skin and itching , stopping the flaking associated with dandruff isn’t as simple as moisturizing the area and cutting back on showers. “Because yeast can contribute to the inflammation, washing your hair at least once per day is helpful in controlling the yeast/oil production,” says Dr. King. “This may seem counterintuitive, but seborrheic dermatitis is an inflammatory condition, not just dryness.” That said, make sure you use warm, lukewarm water rather than hot water to help minimize irritation on your scalp. 

Tip #3: Patch Test 

If your dandruff is caused by allergic contact dermatitis, it’s  a good idea to avoid allergens, such as those from  chemical dyes or certain ingredients. “Patch testing can be done to figure out what is causing the allergy,” says Dr. Campbell. She urges you to do this with a dermatologist present so that, if needed, a steroid solution can be used to help calm the irritation and itching when you are exposed. 

Tip #4: See a Dermatologist 

If you’ve tried switching up your hair care routine and have seen little to no results, we suggest scheduling an appointment with your dermatologist. “A dermatologist may prescribe you an anti-inflammatory solution or an oral antifungal for flares,” says Dr. Campbell. 

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