Dandruff is a very common condition, during the teenage years. It occurs due to increased or altered sebaceous glands secretion along with an exaggerated inflammatory response in susceptible individuals, resulting in whitish dry or greasy flakes on the scalp with or without itching. This could just be limited to the teenage years or early or early adulthood and gradually settles with age once the sebaceous activity subsides.
There are many myths associated with dandruff and here we highlight some common ones and list ways for effective control.
Myth 1 #
Dandruff increases with an oily diet.
Fact: Increased intake of oily food and/or junk food has overall health implications. It decreases our innate immunity or disease-fighting capacity. Oily food does not increase dandruff or oil over the skin surface. Dandruff might increase in dry seasons like winters, during stressful situations, associated fungal or bacterial infections of the scalp, associated skin diseases like psoriasis etc. and predisposition to allergy/atopy, immune-compromised state like HIV-infections etc.
Myth 2 #
We should avoid oiling the scalp if we have dandruff.
Fact: Keeping the scalp excessively dry by using harsh anti-dandruff shampoos and avoiding oiling of the scalp initiates a rebound inflammatory response and over-secretion of the sebaceous glands resulting in increased flakes. Hence, regular oiling of the scalp once a week or as advised by your dermatologist might help reduce the dry flaking in most of the cases. A doctor might help in the frequency and choice of oil and conditioners according to the severity of the condition.
Myth 3 #
Dandruff causes graying of the hair.
Fact: Excess dandruff for prolonged periods might cause the sudden conversion of hair from growth phase to falling phase resulting in excess hair fall, but it has no correlation with premature graying of the hair.
Myth 4 #
Dandruff during teen years causes pimples/acne on the face
Fact: dandruff in the scalp is a result of impaired oil secretion from the sebaceous glands of the scalp skin. Similarly, acne or pimples is caused because of impaired oil secretion from the sebaceous glands of the facial skin. That is why both dandruff and acne might coexist but are not a result of each other.
Myth 5 #
Dandruff can spread to others.
Fact: Usually dandruff is an inflammatory condition and is not contagious. Sometimes, it can be associated with a fungus called pityrosporum, which is a normal flora of the skin and found in all humans.
Myth 6 #
Dandruff suggests blood impurities.
Fact: it is a myth that chronic or recurrent dandruff suggests some blood impurities. It is just a localized condition of the scalp more common during teenage years and has no direct or indirect correlation with impurities or deficiency in the blood.
Controlling Dandruff Especially in Teenagers:
Controlling dandruff in teenagers requires understanding of the pattern and severity of the condition in each individual. Teenager must be in to the habit of taking care of their health, skin and hair by regular cleansing, oiling etc. they should avoid frequent use of styling products, hair colors and other hair cosmetics if they increase the dandruff or hair fall. Therefore, they should observe aggravating factors and try to avoid them.
When to See a Dermatologist:
• Routine over-the-counter anti-dandruff shampoos and oils are not effective.
• Dandruff is associated with itching or boils in the scalp or hair fall.
• If there are underlying skin diseases like psoriasis, seborrhea dermatitis, atopic dermatitis etc.
• If there is a strong family history of inflammatory skin diseases or allergies.
• If dry or greasy flakes are also visible on the eye brows, mid-brows, eye lashes or around the nose.
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The doctor will prescribe medicated anti- dandruff shampoos for anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory effect. You may also be advised to use stay-on lotions which are anti-fungal or steroid based. There are two phases of dandruff treatment – active phase and maintenance phase.
During the active phase, you might need frequent applications of shampoos and lotions as prescribed by your dermatologist and once your dandruff is completely cleared, he or she may start the maintenance phase which is the application of lotions once or twice a month and weekly prescription based shampoos.
The dermatologist would also look for signs of other skin conditions and treat them simultaneously. You might also be prescribed antibiotics along with anti-histamines if the dandruff is severe and progressing to seborrhea dermatitis. Controlling dandruff especially in teenagers requires proper guidance and patience to follow the maintenance phase as advised.