Although there are a variety of causes for dandruff, most have the same solutions for minimizing it. Except in severe cases, dandruff treatment at home is often successful. Dandruff -- the shedding of dead skin cells on the scalp -- is a natural process, so you won't be able to actually stop it, but you can improve it to keep visible flakes from appearing in your hair and on your clothing [source: American Osteopathic College of Dermatology].
If you've tried washing your hair daily with a mild shampoo and haven't seen a decrease in dandruff, it may be time to switch to an over-the-counter medicated product. There are many different active ingredients, however, and each one may react differently with different people, so you may have to try a few to find one that works for you [source: American Osteopathic College of Dermatology]. Active ingredients include zinc pyrithione, which reduces fungus on the scalp; tar, which slows how quickly skin cells die; salicylic acid, which can eliminate scaly skin; selenium sulfide, which reduces the speed of skin cell replacement; and ketoconazole, a catch-all product that can work when others have failed [source: Mayo Clinic].
For best results, use a shampoo that contains one of the above ingredients daily until your dandruff is under control -- you can then begin using it two to three times a week to maintain your flake-free hair. Each time you shampoo with an antidandruff product, leave it on for at least five minutes to give the ingredients time to work [source: Mayo Clinic].
For more information on how to beat dandruff, visit the links below.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. "Dandruff." (Accessed 9/27/09)http://www.aocd.org/skin/dermatologic_diseases/dandruff.html
- Mayo Clinic. "Dandruff." November 22, 2008. (Accessed 9/27/09)http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/dandruff/DS00456
- MedlinePlus. "Seborrheic Dermatitis." (Accessed 10/13/09)http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/152844.php
- Nordqvist, Christian. "What is Dandruff? What Causes Dandruff." Medical News Today (Accessed 10/13/09)http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/152844.php
- Rockoff, Alan, MD. "Dandruff (Seborrhea)." MedicineNet. (Accessed 10/13/09)http://www.medicinenet.com/seborrhea/article.htm
- WebMD. "Dandruff -- Topic Overview." July 3, 2007. (Accessed 9/27/09)http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/tc/dandruff-topic-overview
- WebMD. "Understanding Dandruff -- The Basics." (Accessed 9/27/09)http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/understanding-dandruff-basics
- WebMD. "Understanding Dandruff -- Treatment." (Accessed 9/27/09)http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/understanding-dandruff-treatment