What Is Dandruff?
Dandruff is both annoying and instantly recognisable, with its tell-tale white flecks sitting on your shoulders, and covering your pillowcase in the mornings. A fairly common condition, dandruff is not necessarily harmful on its own, but it could be a sign of something more serious.
Dandruff usually occurs around the scalp, and presents itself as skin cells that shed and linger on the hair, or otherwise fall off. Our bodies constantly regenerate skin tissue and shed the excess – this is what keeps our skin strong and tight.
Dandruff is different from our body’s normal skin shedding process, as it is composed of much larger skin cells that fall off faster, and in larger amounts.
What Causes Dandruff?
So, we know that dandruff is the excess shedding of skin cells around the hair, but what is its cause? It is difficult to determine the cause, because everyone’s hair is different. However, we know that the following contribute to excess shedding:
- Dry, weak skin
- Seborrheic dermatitis which is a fungal infection of the skin
- Illnesses such as psoriasis
- Trauma to hair follicles
- Compromised immune systems
- Certain chemicals in shampoos
- Poor skin care
What is interesting is that a lot of the causes of dandruff are also causes of hair loss – so is there a relationship?
How Are Dandruff And Hair Loss Related?
Firstly, dandruff does not have any other serious health implications. It is just unsightly and annoying, and fairly easy to treat once diagnosed properly.
But, dandruff and hair loss (and thinning) overlap for a lot of men and women – and improper care can make hair loss more prominent. For example, the itchiness that often comes with dandruff can cause people to scratch their hair and damage the follicles, thereby leading to hair loss. For this reason, it is best to avoid scratching, as it does not help your dandruff and only makes your skin worse.
More importantly, dandruff could be a sign that the skin around the crown is not as healthy as it should be; it could be receiving harmful chemicals from a harsh shampoo, or it could be a sign that the blood flow around the scalp is compromised.
If this continues for a long period of time, you could risk permanently damaging hair follicles, thereby preventing healthy hair growth. It is therefore important to find the right shampoo for your skin and maintenance routine.
In any case, a trichologist can help diagnose whatever may be afflicting your hair, and prescribe medication or anti-dandruff shampoos to help alleviate the symptoms.
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