How to Treat Dandruff

Dandruff Treatment Options

Most dandruff treatments are relatively inexpensive and easily accessible. One common and often successful way to keep the flakes from piling up on your shoulders is to use an anti-dandruff shampoo. Doctors suggest using anti-dandruff shampoo daily, leaving the product in your hair for five minutes and rinsing completely [source: WebMD]. When your dandruff is under control, you can decrease your use to two to three times per week. If the type of anti-dandruff shampoo you're using stops working, you can try alternating it with a different kind of shampoo.

Be aware, though, that not all anti-dandruff shampoos are the same. Different ingredients treat different causes of dandruff. Zinc pyrithione shampoos are antibacterial and antifungal. Tar-based shampoos contain coal tar, which might work well for treating dandruff caused by seborrheic dermatitis. Selenium sulfide shampoos also slow down degeneration and can reduce fungus, but be careful -- they can discolor lighter shades or chemically-treated hair. Shampoos with salicylic acid help eliminate patches on your scalp, but they can also leave your skin very dry. Ketoconazole-based shampoos are antifungal; you might want to give them a try if nothing else works, because they are stronger than the other types of dandruff shampoo [source: Mayo Clinic].

If anti-dandruff shampoo alone doesn't get the job done, you can try combining it with cortisone and antifungal creams [source: Rockoff]. These are usually sold over-the-counter, as are most anti-dandruff shampoos, but if your dandruff just won't ease up, stronger versions of both treatments are available by prescription from your doctor.

For more information about treating dandruff, follow the links below.

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  • American Academy of Dermatology. "Seborrheic Dermatitis." (Accessed Sept. 24, 2009)
  • Mayo Clinic. "Dandruff." Nov. 22, 2008. (Accessed Sept. 24, 2009)
  • Rockoff, Alan. "Dandruff (Seborrhea)." MedicineNet. May 26, 2009. (Accessed Sept. 24, 2009)
  • WebMD. "Skin Conditions and Eczema." Sept. 18, 2009. (Accessed Sept. 24, 2009)
  • WebMD. "Understanding Dandruff: Treatment." Nov. 23, 2008. (Accessed Sept. 24, 2009)