Health

All You Need To Know About Your Anti-Dandruff Shampoo

It's safe to say that a majority of people suffer from dandruff at some point in their life. It is the most common hair problem and often not taken too seriously unless it turns chronic. The most convenient and widely used method to combat dandruff is using anti-dandruff shampoos. Easily available off the shelf in varieties for different hair types, using an anti-dandruff shampoo just ends up being part of the grooming routine. However, in many cases the problem persists. Therefore let's try to understand the root cause of the problem and how to make sure you are using the right shampoo.

What is dandruff?

Skin is the largest organ of the body and it renews itself everyday by shedding dead cells and growing new ones to replace them. The scalp also goes through this phenomenon. Dandruff occurs when skin cells on the scalp form too fast, meaning more skin cells are shed and become clumps that can be seen by the naked eye.
This may be for a variety of reasons- product built up in the hair like shampoo, conditioner, hair spray, gel, wax etc. that's not washed and rinsed properly. A major reason is abnormally high levels of a fungus called malassezia globosa, which is a type of yeast and is always found on the scalp, even in those without dandruff. Inherent factors like diet, stress levels, weather conditions, hair type (oily hair type is more susceptible to dandruff) and even genetics play a role to some extent.

Treatment

Depending on the severity of the problem, one can use different treatments. If the problem is acute, its best advised to visit a dermatologist for a clinical treatment. However if it's not too severe, meaning it's not causing more than mild annoyance then one can go for anti-dandruff shampoos, a corrective diet, and even home treatments like rinsing hair with water diluted with lemon or apple cider vinegar or tea tree oil.

But here let's look at in detail what anti-dandruff does and does not do for the health of your scalp.

The number one and most important job of any shampoo especially an anti-dandruff one is too break and wash away any product build up in your hair to leave it squeaky clean. It's important to lather well and even more so, rinse well.

Second, there are anti-dandruff shampoos for all hair types. Make sure you choose the one that is right for your hair type. Where the one meant for dry hair will leave your hair moisturised, one meant for oily hair will probably try to strip most oils out of your hair. So choose wisely, especially if you have coloured hair- you may want to consult a hair expert or your hair stylist.

Third, there are always added chemicals, vitamins or formula (active ingredients) specifically to combat dandruff like ZPTO, Ketoconazole etc. Although in non-medicated brands these are added in marginal amounts, it's not advisable to use them every day (try alternate days) or leave on the scalp for too long a period. Usually 2-5 minutes should suffice. If you think you need medicated brands, you must consult a dermatologist since the concentration of these active ingredients is usually high in these formulations.



Read the labels carefully to find the right match for your problem:

  • Zinc pyrithione - an ingredient which slows down the production of yeast.
  • Selenium sulphide - this reduces the production of natural oils your scalp glands produce.
  • Coal tar - this has a natural anti-fungal agent. If your hair is dyed or treated, long-term coal tar usage can stain the hair.
  • Ketoconazole - a very effective anti-fungal.
  • Salicylic acids - these help your scalp get rid of skin cells. They do not slow down the reproduction of skin cells. Many "scalp scrubs" contain salicylic acids. Some people find salicylic acid treatments leave their scalps dry and eventually make the flaking of the skin worse.
  • Tea-tree oil - A growing number of shampoos now include tea-tree oil as one of its ingredients. It has been used for centuries as an antifungal, antibiotic, and an antiseptic. However, some people are allergic to it.
  • Green Tea potential - Researchers from the Medical College of Georgia, USA, found that green tea may have potential for the treatment of dandruff and psoriasis


Fourthly, a main job of these special formulations in anti-dandruff shampoos is to temporarily re-balance the scalp's pH balance. Most shampoos vary on the types as well as the strength of these ingredients; hence the pH balance effect does not usually last for long. All dandruff shampoos are not made equally, so it is recommended to use more than one type to maximize results and to find the one suited best for your hair. You may find a particular shampoo stops being so effective after a while, if this occurs switch to one that has another ingredient.

Lastly, it is very important to use a good and trusted brand. Ask for recommendations, search for reviews on the internet. The point is to address the matter seriously as if neglected it could backfire in the longer run.

As they say prevention is better than cure, here are some tips to prevent dandruff and treat initial symptoms naturally. As it's always better to be rid of the problem rather than treating it chemically.

Having said that, make sure that you are patient with the results after opting for a new anti-dandruff shampoo. Most shampoos take about 6-8 weeks of regular use to show results. Once you find the right fit, stick with it until you feel you can make the switch to natural remedies. Although mild versions of good brands can continued to be used for a long period of time as required.

- Eat a healthy and balanced diet, drink a lot of water and get good sleep - Take multi-vitamins - Remain stress free by indulging in creative pursuits - Don't use too many hair styling products - Wash your hair on the regular basis. Rinse very well - Go for regular head massage with herbal oils - Make sure your dandruff is not being caused as a reactions to a particular trigger like weather or a product

Disha Bathija is a fashion marketing professional and writes on design and lifestyle.

Photo by: Thinkstock Images
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