Ask The Experts: What is Dandruff? April 14, 2020 15:10

What Is Dandruff?

Why Do I Have It & How Do I Get Rid of It?

There’s no way of sugar-coating it: dealing with dandruff is no fun.

Flakes, an itchy, dry scalp…the condition can be seriously uncomfortable, not to mention maybe a little embarrassing.
Happily, all it takes is the right dandruff shampoo to get rid of drandruff.
Keep reading to learn what it is, what causes it, and, most importantly, how to fight those flakes.

What Is Dandruff?

Dandruff refers to the fine, white flakes that come off your scalp, though other symptoms include scalp itching, tightness, and even redness.

The cause? A particular type of yeast that lives on the scalp (gross, but true) known as Malassezia ovalis. Some people are especially sensitive to this yeast, and that reaction can cause both inflammation and an excessive growth of skin cells. Those extra skin cells then stick together and fall off as, you guessed it, flakes. And the inevitable itchiness that can come with it doesn’t help matters, since scratching only causes more inflammation and makes matters worse.

Why Do I Have Dandruff?

Unfortunately, there’s no concrete answer here. While the yeast is present in everyone, it’s still unknown why some people are more sensitive to it than others. Still, there are some external factors that also play role. Things such as stress and pollution can impact the sebum (AKA oil) levels on your scalp. Malassezia yeast feeds on oil, so more oil equals more yeast which equals, yep, more flaking. An oily scalp can also lead to a condition known as seborrheic dermatitis, which results in yellow, greasy flakes, along with redness and scalp itching.

Myth #1: Dandruff comes from having a dry scalp.

Actually, having an oily scalp is more likely to lead to dandruff. Malassezia are lipophilic, meaning they love the oil (sebum) your skin produces and thrive when there’s more of it.

Myth #2: Using an oil treatment will make dandruff better.

A hot oil treatment is one of the DIY remedies you will find on the internet, you are supposed to apply warm coconut or olive oil directly to the scalp. But does it work? As dandruff is usually oily already, applying more oil will simply give you stickier and greasier flakes

Myth #3: You should wash your hair less often if you have dandruff.

You should actually shampoo daily to rinse away the flakes and debris. In order to reduce the levels of this yeast use a shampoo containing an anti-microbial agent that specifically targets it

Myth #4: Your styling products are making it worse.

There are lots of things that can spur on your dandruff—genetics, stress, your diet—but your styling routine isn’t one of them. Just make sure to rinse your hair of debris as often as possible (meaning daily).

Myth #5: Dandruff does not affect hair growth.

Research and studies have shown that a flaky scalp can cause and/or worsen hair fall in certain individuals,” says Kingsley. If your scalp is in bad shape it can adversely effect hair growth. And thick, scaly patches can also attach to the hair follicles causing fallout.

Myth #6: All flakes are a sign of dandruff.

Seborrheic dermatitis is another condition that can cause dandruff and flaking of the scalp. SD usually appears as “thick, sticky, yellow-coloured flakes. It can also be itchy and inflammatory. Seborrheic dermatitis is not just limited to the scalp. You can find flaky patches in your brows, beard, ears, chest, and other skin folds.

Scalp psoriasis is another dandruff-like issue, but it looks a little different. Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition. It causes a build-up of dark plaques. Unlike dandruff and seborrhoeic dermatitis, psoriasis is often not itchy. Typically if you have psoriasis on the scalp, you’ll also see patches on your elbows and knees.

How Do I Get Rid of Dandruff?

As annoying as dandruff is, the good news is that it’s easy to treat with the right dandruff shampoo, namely one with pyrithione zinc. This anti-fungal ingredient works by controlling the amount of yeast on your scalp (and, as we’ve established, less yeast equals less flakes). 

Schwarzkopf BC Scalp Therapy Dandruff Control Shampoo removes visible flakes from the scalp and efficiently takes action against the fungus that causes dandruff. Suitable for any hair type and all scalp types prone to dandruff.

Gently purifies hair & scalp
Removes visible flakes from the scalp
Prevents new dandruff from forming
Helps calm the scalp

Active Ingredients:
Zinc Pyrithione - Boosts anti-fungal properties
Lemon Grass Extract - Purifies and helps to calm the scalp
Allantoin - Helps to soothe and calm the scalp
Panthenol - Balances the moisture level of the hair and scalp
Fragrance - A twist of fresh citrus, replenishing lemongrass and green accords

How Should I Use Dandruff Shampoo?

Since these formulas are a little different than your standard shampoo, they should be used a little differently, too. If your dandruff is mild or you’re just trying to prevent flaking, use either one of these dandruff shampoos twice per week.  To treat more intense dandruff, they can be used daily. Either way, be sure to massage the dandruff shampoo into your scalp—after all, that’s the area that needs it—and let it sit for about five minutes in order to give the pyrithione zinc enough time to knock out that problematic yeast.