scalp health dandruff disease

When Dandruff Becomes More Than Just an Annoyance

scalp health dandruff diseaseDandruff is embarrassing and annoying, but can it be cured? Does it lead to baldness? Dandruff may be a sign that something’s haywire with your hair follicles, and that can lead to thinning hair. Here’s what’s really causing that itchy, flaky scalp.

Your skin, including your scalp, naturally sheds dead skin all the time, usually once a month. But your scalp can get out of control, shedding every few days. That’s most often caused by the hyperactivity of a one-celled organism called Pityrosporum ovale or Malassezia ovalis.

Here’s how it works: Hair grows out of a tiny shaft in the skin called the follicle. Each follicle is nourished by a sebaceous gland that produces a waxy oil called sebum. Malassezia feeds on those sebaceous glands and multiplies, causing the skin to shed faster. So if you have an oily scalp, you’re more susceptible to dandruff. It can’t be cured, but the shedding can be controlled.

What Else Can Cause Dandruff?

Saturated fats and trans-fatty oils: These age-old enemies in your diet stimulate scalp sebum, making a feast for Malassezia and other organisms.

Cold weather: This is chapped-hands weather, but your scalp can suffer too. When you’re outside, wear a warm hat and gloves.

Dry heat: In indoor dry heat, your skin and scalp will benefit from the use of a humidifier. If you have to blow-dry your hair, keep the drying time short. Better yet, let your hair dry naturally.

Sun and tanning: Yes, your scalp can get sunburn from UVA, which can damage the follicles. Tanning salons use UVA and UVB. Wear a cap outdoors or a towel around your hair in the salon.

Harsh shampoos and conditioners: Ammonium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate create a foaming lather, but it’s tough on the skin. Pick a shampoo that either doesn’t contain these or that substitutes them with sodium lauryl sulfosuccinate or sodium lauryl sulfoacetate. Sounds the same, we know, but the effects are different. For conditioners, pick one that’s dimethicone-free and preferably one with 18-MEA, a natural substance.

Not enough rinsing: You’d be surprised how much shampoo or conditioner can get left in your hair. Rinse more than you think you need.

Contact dermatitis: We use a lot of chemical-laden products on our hair and scalp — dyes, gel, spray, mousse, and various shampoos and conditioners. You could be allergic to any one or a combination of these.

But Can Dandruff Cause Baldness?

Probably not. But eczema, psoriasis or seborrheic dermatitis can damage hair follicles, which means that new hair isn’t going to be produced from those follicles. Seborrheic dermatitis is caused by yeast growing on the skin, causing red, itchy, scaly patches. Plain, ordinary dandruff isn’t going to cause hair loss, but if your scalp gets red or swollen, see a specialist.

If you’re experiencing signs of an unhealthy scalp or hair loss it’s important to immediately see a hair restoration specialist. At Van Scoy Hair Clinics we specialize in hair loss treatment solutions for men and women of all hair types. To schedule a free consultation call us at (419) 289-6665 or to contact us via email click here.


Photo Credit: Andy Rennie Via Flickr Creative Commons