If you had to struggle with those itchy, annoying and embarrassing moments in the midst of an important meeting or special date, you aren’t alone! Almost 50% people in the world have faced such embarrassing times. Dandruff is a very common problem faced by men and women of all age groups. Kids, adults, elderly men and women, all seemed to have faced the problem at some time or the other. Yet most people do not know much about dandruff. People have a misconception that dandruff is just dry, flaky scalp.
What most people don’t know is that Dandruff is actually a disorder of the scalp characterized by excessive shedding of skin cells from the scalp. Normally, the skin consists of billions of cells. The cells on the outermost layer are the oldest and the deeper layers continuously manufacture new cells and push them to the outer layer. Once the superficial cells are dead, they get sloughed off, and are replaced by new cells. This process of replacing old dead cells with new healthy cells usually takes place very efficiently, in a controlled manner. But this process may sometimes get disturbed, and in such cases, there may be excessive shedding of skin cells resulting in a dry, flaky and itchy scalp, which is commonly called as the dandruff.
Now what causes such an exacerbation of an otherwise normal shedding process is not very clear, but scientists have discovered a fungus called ‘Malassezia’, also called as ‘Pityrosporum’ as the causative organism for dandruff.
What is interesting is that this fungus lives in the scalps of almost all healthy adults and feeds on the sebum produced by our oil glands. It causes irritation of the scalp skin leading to excessive cell production, which in turn means excessive number of dead cells. Though this organism survives in almost all individuals, it does not cause symptoms of dandruff in everyone. It is only when these organisms grow out of control that the individual suffers from dandruff.
There could be several predisposing factors that kind of create a breeding ground for the fungus to multiply faster than usual. These could be chronic illness, stress, poor immunity, unhealthy diet, excessive oil production in the scalp, hormonal disturbances, frequent chemical hair treatments, use of poor quality hair care products and abuse of shampoo’s and gels.
There are also other skin problems that can manifest in the form of dandruff. Chronic dry skin, seborrhea and Psoriasis are some of the dandruff producing skin problems.
Dandruff in most cases does not require any treatment. It can be managed with good diet and self care at home.
1. If there is a health problem or hormonal imbalance, that needs to be addressed first as it may be the root cause for Dandruff.
2. As diet is a key factor, your nutrition will automatically reflect on your scalp health and your immunity levels to fight against any fungal infections of the scalp. Eat foods that are rich in healthy fats like the omega 3- fatty acids. Nuts, fish and omega –3 fortified eggs can promote a healthy scalp as well. The B vitamins and vitamin E play a very important role in maintaining scalp and hair health, so Vitamin supplements could help. Focus on eating a balanced diet and drink plenty of water.
3. Avoid fried foods and cola’s as they both can influence and interfere with the oil balance of your scalp.
4. And of course, stay away from harsh chemical hair treatments, hair styling products and shampoo’s that are not meant for your hair type.
Follow these tips and within a few months, you will notice a remarkably less flaky and itchy scalp.