Flakes, Begone! Better Dandruff Treatments Could Be on the Way
What’s Behind Those Dandruff Flakes?
Like skin anywhere else on the body, the skin cells on the scalp continually die and are replaced by new cell growth, which pushes older skin to the surface. Eventually, the older skin forms flakes and falls off.
M. globosa is a natural part of the scalp and lives on the oil that the scalp produces. But in some people, the fungus irritates the scalp skin, causing extra skin cells to grow, die, and flake off — and creating those irritating white snow-showers that end up on your shoulders.
Malassezia isn’t the only cause of dandruff; it can also be due to a dry scalp; chronic skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema, or seborrheic dermatitis; or an allergic reaction to shampoos or other hair-care products. While the normal process of skin cell turnover takes about 30 days in people without dandruff, it can be as little as two to seven days in those with this condition.
Dandruff: Getting to the Root Cause
Antifungal shampoos containing ingredients like zinc pyrithione (the main ingredient in Head & Shoulders shampoo), selenium sulfide (found in Selsun Blue), and ketoconazole (found in Nizoral) are currently used to fight dandruff caused by malassezia. But in this latest study, sulfonamides, a class of antibiotics, were found to be more effective than ketoconazole in inhibiting the enzyme responsible for malassezia growth. The researchers, who published their report in the latest issue of the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, believe that these findings can lead to more effective future anti-dandruff treatments.
In the meantime, what can you do if you’re afflicted with flakes? Besides the antifungal treatments, there are also shampoos containing coal tar, which can slow down cell turnover, and salicylic acid, which helps get rid of scales. Experts say these should be used several times a week to help clear your scalp.
Cold, dry weather is also linked to dandruff, so you may notice the flakes disappearing once the season changes and the sun comes out. And because stress may play a role in developing dandruff, try your best to keep it under control.
But if lifestyle changes and over-the-counter remedies don’t work, it may be time to see your doctor, who can rule out other skin conditions and prescribe treatments that can help you say bye-bye to the flakes for good.