Dandruff is a common scalp condition related to the shedding of the skin on your scalp. Dandruff does not spread from person to person and is seldom serious. However, some people might find dandruff embarrassing.
What causes dandruff?
There are many causes of dandruff. The more common causes are:
- Dry skin
- Not washing your hair regularly
- Irritation from a fungus called Malassezia furfur
- Contact dermatitis, a medical condition with itchy, red scalp, caused by irritation to certain products
Certain medical conditions such as:
- Eczema (dry, scaly skin with redness and itch)
- Psoriasis (scaly skin resulted from buildup of cells on the skin surface)
- Seborrhoeic dermatitis (red and greasy skin with flaky white or yellow scales on the scalp)
What medicines are used to treat dandruff?
For less serious cases, washing the scalp every day with a gentle shampoo can help reduce oiliness and build-up of skin cells on the scalp.
For more serious cases, using medicated dandruff shampoos may help. Examples of medicated dandruff shampoos are:
Zinc pyrithione shampoo
Zinc pyrithione is used to treat fungal and bacterial infections. When it is used for dandruff, it can reduce the growth of the fungus Malassezia furfur,.
Coal tar based shampoo
Coal tar can reduce the speed at which skin cells on the scalp die and flake off. Using coal tar may cause some staining of blonde, grey or white hair. If you use coal tar shampoo, you should protect your scalp from the sun by wearing a hat.
Selenium sulphide shampoo
This shampoo can reduce the speed at which skin cells on the scalp die and flake off. It may also reduce the growth of Malassezia furfur.
Ketoconazole 2% shampoo (Nizoral®)
Ketoconazole is used to treat fungal infections.
If your condition does not improve after using these shampoos, you should see a doctor. Depending on the cause of your dandruff, the doctor may prescribe steroid lotions for your condition or refer you to a doctor specialized in skin conditions.
- What can I do to prevent dandruff?
- You can reduce or prevent your dandruff problem by
- Learning relaxation exercises such as deep breathing, as stress is known to worsen dandruff
- Washing your hair regularly to reduce oily scalp which can worsen dandruff
- Reducing the use of hair styling products
- Having a healthy diet
Updated in Nov 2018
This article does not take the place of talking to your doctor or pharmacist. People with special health needs such as babies, children below 12 year old, elderly and pregnant ladies should see a doctor instead of self-treatment. Always read the instructions and warnings on the package before taking any medicine.