Getting Rid of Dandruff

by April Reinhardt
(last updated August 31, 2016)

Often mistaken with simply dry skin, dandruff can be a chronic condition of the scalp discernible by flaking and itching skin, and sometimes accompanied by redness and swelling. Perhaps you've experienced dandruff yourself, or have seen telltale signs of dandruff on others. White flakes on the shoulders of dark clothing indicate that flakes have fallen from the scalp. Underlying causes of dandruff can include infrequent shampooing, contact dermatitis, eczema, fungus, psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis, or simple dry skin.

How do you get rid of dandruff? There are several kinds of shampoo available for treating mild cases of dandruff, but some can be quite harsh, creating a dry scalp that leads to more flaking. Dandruff shampoos are generally available as over-the-counter products. If you cannot find them, speak with your pharmacist. You may need to get a doctor's prescription for a dandruff product if over-the-counter remedies don't help. Here are some dandruff shampoos that you can try at home:

  • Tar. Products containing coal tar control how quickly the scalp's skin cells die and flake away. Tar-based shampoos, such as T/Gel by Neutrogena, have been proven to treat psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis.
  • Selenium sulfide. Commonly sold under the name Selsun Blue, selenium sulfide shampoo slows skin cell death but can also treat fungus. If your hair contains coloring, selenium sulfide can alter the color, so it is imperative to follow the directions on the label of the product.
  • Salicylic acid. Scalp scrubs, such as Ionil T, remove scale and flakes, but are also harsh, can dry the scalp, and lead to more flaking. If you use such a product, make sure that you use a quality conditioner after shampooing to help eliminate dryness.
  • Ketoconazole. If you've ever had to rid your children of lice, this name might sound familiar. Commonly sold under the name Nizoral, shampoos containing ketoconazole contain an antifungal property to help control scale and dandruff, but they also kill lice.
  • Zinc pyrithione. Anti-dandruff shampoos such as Selsun Salon and Head & Shoulders contain zinc pyrithione, which is an antifungal and antibacterial solution. Such products help to eliminate the fungus that creates dandruff and scalp dermatitis.

If you're uncomfortable using dandruff shampoos, you can try some home remedies and lifestyle changes to help prevent or get rid of dandruff: shampoo more often if you have an oily scalp, add more zinc and Vitamin B to your diet, reduce stress in your life, expose yourself to a little more sunlight, and reduce the amount of hair styling products you use each day.

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Author Bio

April Reinhardt

An admin­istrator for a mutual fund man­age­ment firm, April deals with the writ­ten word daily. She loves to write and plans to author a memoir in the near future. April attend­ed More­head State Uni­ver­sity to pursue a BA degree in Ele­men­tary Edu­ca­tion. ...

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