So you found out you have dandruff. Now what?
First of all, don’t panic. Dandruff is a common condition that affects almost half of the world population at some point in their life. The first thing you should do is to see your doctor or dermatologist to make sure it is, in fact, dandruff and not psoriasis or seborrheic dermatitis. Both conditions are treatable and relatively easy to take care of, but definitely require different approaches.
If it turns out to be dandruff, you’re in luck! There are numerous inexpensive over-the-counter shampoos that can help treat it. But finding the best one for you is not always easy. Some shampoos may make your dandruff worse and others will cause an allergic reaction. Here are a few tips that should help you make the right choice:
1. Avoid shampoos with alcohol, petroleum, or formaldehyde if you have scalp problems.
2. Don’t use a shampoo that is too alkaline (above pH 8).
3. Use shampoos that do not contain ingredients to which you are allergic, such as fragrances. If a shampoo label says “hypoallergenic,” it should be less likely to cause an allergic reaction than other shampoos.
4. Consider washing your hair more frequently if oily hair makes your scalp flaky or itchy. An effective way of controlling oil on the hair is to use a mild shampoo every day and alternate it with an antidandruff shampoo every other day. On the other hand, if your scalp is dry stay away from washing your hair frequently.
5. Look for antidandruff shampoos that contain one of these effective ingredients:
- Coal tar is the active ingredient in products like Neutrogena T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo Original Formula and DHS Tar Shampoo. *Note: It can irritate sensitive skin, and has a strong smell.
- Selenium sulfide is the active ingredient in Selsun Blue Dandruff Shampoo Moisturizing with Aloe. *Note: It also has a strong smell, but less so than coal tar — and it doesn’t stain hair or clothes as badly.
- Zinc pyrithione is the active ingredient in Head & Shoulders Classic Clean Dandruff Shampoo (the green bottle). *Note: This may be your best option since it doesn’t have the drawbacks of coal tar or selenium sulfide.
The main ingredient in most dandruff shampoos is a class of drugs called “antifungals.” These drugs kill fungi like Malassezia globosa, which live on your scalp and feed on oils secreted by your skin. The feeding causes your scalp to shed skin cells faster than usual, which is why you have dandruff.
Let us know about your favorite shampoo in the comments down below!
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