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Dandruff affects about half of the adult population and it normally peaks in severity around the age of 20. But what actually is dandruff and how do you get rid of it? Express.co.uk chatted to Dr Rolanda Wilkerson, Principal Scientist at Head & Shoulders, to find out if it’s possible to get rid of dandruff in one wash.
What causes dandruff?
Dandruff is caused when three things come together:
- A microbe that’s present on everyone’s scalp called Malassezia globosa
- Natural oils on the scalp known as sebum
- A sensitive scalp
Dr Wilkerson said: “As the Malassezia globosa breaks down the sebum on your scalp it produces oleic acid.
“If your scalp is sensitive to it – and around 50 percent of the world’s population is – your scalp can become irritated, leading to the symptoms we know as dandruff.”
Dandruff caused by Malassezia globosa causes an itchy, dry or flaky scalp.
Dandruff symptoms are very similar to the conditions of seborrheic dermatisis, which is also caused by Malassezia glbosa.
Seborrheic dermatitis causes scaly, itchy and red patches on skin on the scalp, face and other areas of the body.
Other skin conditions such as ring worm, eczema, contact dermatitis, psoriasis, and cradle cap may cause similar symptoms.
However, each of the conditions are slightly different and a GP or pharmacist should recognise which one you have and treat it accordingly.
READ MORE- How to get rid of flaky scalp
How common is dandruff?
One in two people in the world have suffered from dandruff at some point in their lives.
Dandruff normally starts with puberty and is less common when you reach your 50s.
Dr Wilkerson said: “Dandruff often starts with puberty as your hormones start to change, causing you to produce more scalp oils for the dandruff-causing microbe Malassezia globosa to thrive on.
“It can also appear at other times when your hormones change such as in old age or during times of stress.”
Is dandruff more common in winter?
If you’ve noticed your dandruff is worse in winter or only occurs in winter, it’s not down to the cold weather.
Dr Wilkerson said: “Winter itself does not cause dandruff.
“Instead, there are other factors common in colder months which can make an existing dandruff problem appear worse.
“For example, dandruff-causing microbes thrive at higher temperatures so when you pull on a wooly hat and raise the temperature of your scalp you’re more at risk of dandruff.
“In fact, Head & Shoulders studies have shown that it doesn’t take long to reach the optimum temperature for dandruff-causing microbes to thrive.
“Central heating in homes and offices warms and dries the air around you.
“If you’re prone to having a dry, flaky scalp, this can make the problem worse.”
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How to get rid of dandruff in one wash
You should use anti-dandruff shampoo to get rid of your symptoms.
Dr Wilerson said: “There’s a whole range of different shampoos depending on your symptoms, your hair type and how you want your hair to look whether it’s thicker and fuller, or smooth and silky.
“The Head and Shoulders shampoos all contain the active ingredient zinc pyrithione, which has been proven in hundreds of clinical trials to get rid of dandruff when used regularly.”
If you’re worried about anti-dandruff shampoos stripping your hair of healthy oils, you don’t have to worry!
Head & Shoulders’ new The Supreme Collection with Dual Oils gets rid of dandruff, itching, dryness and flaking while nourishing, softening, and moisturising your hair.
The Supreme formula is made up of antioxidants and skincare-inspired ingredients which calm down your stressed out scalp.
How should you wash your hair to get rid of dandruff?
Only use a small amount and work from root to tip.
Dr Wilkerson said: “You should place a small amount into your hand – around a tablespoon should be fine – and work in the shampoo at the scalp.
“You should always work the lather from root to tip, following the same direction your cuticles face – that way you’ll actually work tangles out rather than create them.
“From there, massage the lather down your hair fibers.
“It’s tempting to work the lather through the hair, but the best place to focus is the scalp.
“This is where lots of oil and dirt build up so you need to keep it clean.
“If you focus only on the hair, the shampoo will wash off without getting to the scalp.
“Focus instead on the scalp and gravity will do the work as you rinse, taking the shampoo along the hair and cleaning that too!”
You should avoid homemade hacks that are rumoured to get rid of dandruff, because they don’t work and might damage your scalp.
Dr Wilkerson advises against using apple cider vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, and mouth wash.
She said: “Apple Cider Vinegar is a strong acid and people use it on their hair and scalp in an attempt to balance the pH.
“The idea is that this can help balance the pH and protect against the dandruff-causing microbe Malassezia globosa.
“But it doesn’t work. It will alter the pH of the scalp, but only temporarily.
“The pH level of your scalp changes so regularly that any change from adding Apple Cider Vinegar will be quickly reversed.
“Baking soda has no active ingredient that tackles the root cause of dandruff so it won’t help you get rid of dandruff.
“Lemon Juice changes the pH of your scalp but this will be quickly reversed.
“It is claimed that alcohol in mouthwash – much like in antiseptic treatments – kills off the dandruff-causing microbe, Malessezia Globosa.
“But despite being tried and tested by regulatory bodies around the world, it’s never been proven to work.
“Strong alcohols can also have a negative effect on the scalp and cause irritation and redness.”
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