Nobody wants to experience the itchy, irritating effects of dandruff, but it’s actually the most common problem people face in regard to their hair. It can cause us to feel self-conscious, and the attempts we make to get rid of it is a never-ending story!
Dandruff shouldn’t be something to be embarrassed about, but we know that it can make you feel like you have something to hide. Wearing a hat or tying your hair back won’t help get rid of the flakes though! (In fact, covering it up like that might make it worse). We’ve put together a list of common misconceptions when it comes to dealing with dandruff, many of which could make the problem worse! Once you know what are myths and what are facts, it can help you to restore and treat your dandruff effectively!
Myth #1 - Dandruff is caused by a dry scalp
First and foremost, we need to debunk this myth! We often associate flaking skin with being dry, but it's not always the case. Skin conditions such as eczema (which causes red, inflamed and itchy areas on the skin) leave skin red and dry, and often flakes because of the itching.
Dandruff, however, is different. It’s actually caused by excess oil on the scalp! There is a certain type of yeast, called Malassezia furfur, which enjoys growing in the oil your sebaceous glands produce on your head. The yeast exists on the scalp naturally, but certain people are more sensitive to it, and this then creates an overgrowth of skin cells on the scalp. Say hello to dandruff!
Myth #2 - Conditioner will help
Now you know that dandruff is in fact caused by oily skin rather than dry skin, it should be clear that applying conditioner to the scalp is not going to help. In most cases, we shouldn’t put conditioner on the scalp – it should be applied from the middle to the ends of our hair.
If we put conditioner on the scalp, we are adding oils and moisture to an area where there is already natural oils (sebum) being produced by our glands. The sebum acts as a moisturizer and protects the pores (until it builds up and becomes problematic).
If you want more advice on how to wash your hair, read our blog on 5 Tips For The Perfect Hair-Wash.
Myth #3 - You should wash hair less often
Ideally, we shouldn’t be washing our hair too regularly, as it denies our scalps of the natural sebum our glands produce. However, when you have an oily scalp, it may require more washes.
The reason for this is that the build-up of sebum is what that yeast - Malassezia, which I mentioned before – loves. If you do suffer from dandruff, you may want to up your hair washes to 4 or 5 times a week, just so that the Malassezia has less time and space to grow, which will reduce the number of flakes appearing on your head.
For the most effective way to wash your hair for ultimate dandruff control, try our Stem Cell Thickening Shampoo! It is scientifically proven to reduce the appearance of dandruff, while it moisturizes and heals skin on the scalp.
Myth #4 - Oil treatments
If you ever seek advice on the internet for dandruff treatment and come across 'hot oil treatments' as an option, ignore it! They usually involve applying warm coconut or olive oil to the scalp, and there are two reasons why this would only exacerbate the problem.
Firstly, it’s adding oil to the existing issue of an oily scalp… it’s pretty simple that this is the opposite of what you want to do!
Secondly, when you put heat on the scalp – through hot water, hot oil treatments or heated styling products – you might be irritating the skin further. Heat can cause inflammation, and therefore make the skin itchy and red. If you find your head is itching, and you relieve that itch with a scratch, you’ll damage the skin. You’re more prone to infections if that happens.
If you suffer from a really itchy scalp, you could have a skin condition such as seborrheic dermatitis or scalp psoriasis, and not just dandruff. It is worth seeing a doctor about that if you have concerns.
Myth #5 - You should scratch away the skin before washing
Dandruff can’t be vanished by scratching it away and then washing it. In fact, if you find yourself doing this every time, it could be a sign that you have a more serious problem.
Scalps tend to be an area of sensitive skin anyway, so if you’re trying to scratch the flakes away, you could be damaging and irritating the skin further. Harsh scratching may cause a bit of bleeding on the scalp, too, leaving the skin open to infection. Treat the scalp gently, not aggressively.
Myth #6 - Dandruff causes hair loss
You may think dandruff and hair loss are linked, but this is not necessarily true. Hair loss or hair thinning is to do with your hair and follicles, while dandruff is about the skin on your scalp.
On average, every person loses around 100 hairs per day, so if you see strands of hair falling out in the shower, it’s natural. Some may think suffering from dandruff is causing hair to fall out, but it’s more likely that you just notice it a bit more because you’ll be washing it more often.
Lifestyle choices can affect both dandruff and hair loss at the same time, so increases in both may happen at the same time. It doesn’t mean one causes the other! Dandruff can be encouraged by an unhealthy diet, which is also a culprit in the health of our hair. It is best to avoid foods such as processed and fried foods, because they may add to the production of oil on the scalp as well as discourage healthy hair growth.
Myth #7 - Dandruff is worse in the summer
Although the summer is a time to sweat, which could irritate the skin on the scalp, it doesn’t necessarily mean dandruff will be worse then. In fact, the winter weather can aggravate the skin on the scalp.
Behaviors in the winter can have a big impact on the prevalence of dandruff. We tend to have less healthy diets in the winter – sugary, spicy or greasy foods, full-fat dairy products in hot drinks – which can trigger dandruff. Add this to the fact it’s a hat-wearing season, it can worsen the problem!
Myth #8 - Dandruff is contagious
Unlike hair irritations like head lice, dandruff is not at all contagious. So, if you share a hat or helmet with someone who suffers from dandruff, you will not “catch” anything.
There is however evidence that the likelihood of dandruff could be genetic. The reasoning behind this is that often families will share skin sensitivities, or genes can play a role in the possession of oily skin.
Dandruff can’t be cured, but it can be controlled! Now that you know what is true and what’s false, it will be much easier to handle the problem. Avoid hot treatments and scratching so that you don’t irritate the already sensitive skin. By keeping it clean and allowing the skin to breathe, the discomfort will die down, making day to day life that bit less awkward.