Dandruff is a common, non-contagious skin condition that affects the scalp (the skin that covers the top and back of the head) and causes flakes of skin to appear. Non-contagious means that you cannot catch dandruff from someone who has the condition. Dandruff can vary in severity- it can be mild, moderate or severe.
Mild dandruff can affect anyone, although it tends to affect men more than women. Dandruff often occurs after puberty and is most common in people in their early twenties. Puberty is the period of life when the body reaches sexual maturity and causes physical, psychological and behavioral changes. In adults, dandruff and seborrhoeic dermatitis may return at any time.
There is not much you can do for dandruff prevention. However, using an antidandruff or antifungal shampoo once a week (or as prescribed on the bottle) after the scalp is clear may help to prevent dandruff and seborrhoeic dermatitis of the scalp.
Try the following steps for dandruff prevention:
- Try not to scratch your scalp when using shampoo. Gently massage your scalp without scratching as this will not damage your scalp or your hair.
- Brush your hair daily and wash it at least three times a week. After washing your hair, rinse it thoroughly to get all the shampoo out. Using a shampoo that contains tea tree oil daily may help reduce dandruff. It contains an antifungal and antiseptic and can be bought in health shops.
- Avoid using chemicals on your scalp, such as those used in hair colouring products. The chemicals reduce the number of bacteria on the scalp that are needed to fight against yeasts.
- Using hair products, such as hair gels and hair sprays, can build up oils and can irritate the scalp in some people. You may want to stop using a product for a while to see if your dandruff improves, or change products completely.
- Spending time outdoors can help reduce dandruff. However, ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun can damage your skin, as well as increasing your risk of developing skin cancer. Make sure you protect yourself from the sun by using a sun screen with the appropriate skin protection factor (SPF) for your skin type.
- Managing stress can reduce your risk of getting dandruff. Stress can have an adverse effect on your overall health and can increase your risk of becoming ill. Stress can also trigger dandruff or make existing dandruff worse. If you feel stressed or under pressure, your GP can recommend a variety of different ways to help treat your stress.