By JUDITH SILVERSTEIN, MD
September 01, 2020
Category: Skin Care
Dandruff is a common problem and one that you may not worry too much about if you deal with minor flaking every once in a while; however, severe dandruff can be embarrassing. First, it’s important to know whether you’re dealing with dandruff or a dry scalp, as these are two different problems that can result in the same itching and flaking symptoms. Since dandruff is caused by excess scalp oil, which is the opposite of dry scalp, you may want to turn to a dermatologist to confirm your condition.
Here’s how to tell the difference between dandruff and dry scalp:
- Dandruff will produce large, oily flakes that are often yellow or white in appearance while the dry scalp is more likely to produce a lot of dry little flakes.
- Dandruff may cause a red, scaly scalp while someone with dry scalp is more likely to experience dry skin on other parts of their body
- The only symptom that both dandruff and dry scalp have in common is an itchy scalp
Most people can get their dandruff under control with simple home care. The first way to treat dandruff is usually with a special shampoo. Just like with acne, it can take several weeks to see results with dandruff shampoo so be patient; however, if your symptoms don’t improve or get worse after about a month you should consult your dermatologist.
Other tips to prevent dandruff include:
- Wash your hair every day to reduce excess oil on the scalp
- Use a shampoo that contains coal tar, pyrithione zinc, salicylic acid, selenium sulfide or tea tree oil (a natural alternative)
- Stay away from any har products that contain alcohols or bleach, as well as oily hair products that will only cause more oil to buildup on the scalp
- Find ways to effectively manage stress, which can trigger or exacerbate dandruff
- Get a small amount of sun exposure every day (just a couple of minutes), which could help get your symptoms under control (talk to your dermatologist before doing so, as excess sun exposure can be harmful)
- Eat a healthy diet that is rich in vitamin B, zinc, and healthy fats
If you want to say goodbye to flaky skin but you’re having trouble controlling dandruff on your own, then talk with your dermatologist about other treatment options and strategies to banish those unwanted flakes for good.