Dandruff - Treatment 

Treating dandruff 

If the symptoms of your dandruff are mild then it may be possible to relieve symptoms using self care techniques.

These include:

  • Washing your hair daily with a mild shampoo until the dandruff clears; shampoos containing tea tree oil can be particularly effective.
  • Try not to scratch your scalp when using shampoo; instead, gently massage your scalp without scratching as this will not damage your scalp or your hair.
  • Avoid using hair products such as hairspray and gel until the dandruff clears.

Spending time outdoors in the sun can help reduce dandruff. However, ensure you protect yourself with sunscreen with the appropriate skin protection factor (SPF) for your skin type.

Anti-dandruff shampoo

If your dandruff is severe you will probably require treatment with an anti-dandruff shampoo. These are available over the counter from most supermarkets and pharmacists.

Some of the most widely used anti-dandruff shampoos include:

  • Zinc pyrithione – which works by killing the malassezia fungi thought partially responsible for dandruff.
  • Salicylic acid – which helps soften and shed dead skin cells on your scalp (some people experience dryness of their scalp after using salicylic acid; using a conditioner after the shampoo can often help).
  • Selenium sulfide – this works by both slowing production of skin cells while also killing the fungi.
  • Ketoconazole shampoo – which has a powerful antifungal effect.
  • Coal tar shampoo – this again can help slow production of dead skin cells.

Not every shampoo is suitable for everyone. For example, selenium sulfide may not be recommended for people with blonde or chemically treated hair as it can discolour the hair.

And as a precaution the use of certain types of anti-dandruff shampoo may not be recommended if pregnant or breastfeeding. So it is always important to carefully read the instructions that come with the shampoo.

If in doubt ask your pharmacist or GP for advice.

Applying the shampoo

It is normally recommended you apply whatever anti-dandruff shampoo you decide to use daily or every other day. (An exception is if you are using ketoconazole shampoo which usually only needs to be applied twice a week.)

Once your symptoms improve, you may only need to use the shampoo two or three times a week.

Gently massage the shampoo into your hair and then leave for at least five minutes to allow the ingredients time to take effect.

If one type of shampoo does not prove effective or starts to lose its effectiveness then try another type.

If you do not experience an improvement in symptoms after a few weeks of using a shampoo, contact your GP for advice.

Seborrhoeic dermatitis

If you also develop symptoms of seborrhoeic dermatitis, where you have scaling of skin in other parts of the body, your GP may recommend you use a cream or lotion containing ketoconazole.

If you have a flare-up of symptoms you may be prescribed a short course of a steroid cream or lotion (topical corticosteroids). The long-term use of topical corticosteroids is not usually recommended, as it can lead to side effects such as thinning of the skin.

Page last reviewed: 19/06/2012

Next review due: 19/06/2014

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The 3 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Saaadi Sabysachi said on 12 May 2012

hi. i'm suffering from dandruff for 3 years. i tried first a Ketoconazole shampoo (generic indian brand) and then a coal tar shampoo ( np tar, thai brand). but dandruff persists. i'm losing my hear for dandruff rapidly. any suggesstion ?

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carltheman said on 04 February 2012

Jojoba oil is also a good natural remedy that works. Yeast causes seborrheic dermatitis and mine was so bad it was actually formed small yellowish brown crusts on my scalp. I got a natural product through amazon which has jojoba oil and yeast killers in it and it has been a life changer for me. The crusts fell off and my skin has healed nicely. There is a little scarring but what do you expect. The product is not even for seb and I contacted the company who make teenage dream (mama nature) to tell them about it. They said they had been inundated with similar e-mails to mine and said that although it was not intended for this use it was perfectly safe to use it for this. They said they do not plan to market it for this as it is an acne treatment but they do have a similar product coming out soon specifically for seb.

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carltheman said on 04 February 2012

Jojoba oil is also a good natural remedy that works. Yeast causes seborrheic dermatitis and mine was so bad it was actually formed small yellowish brown crusts on my scalp. I got a natural product through amazon which has jojoba oil and yeast killers in it and it has been a life changer for me. The crusts fell off and my skin has healed nicely. There is a little scarring but what do you expect. The product is not even for seb and I contacted the company who make teenage dream (mama nature) to tell them about it. They said they had been inundated with similar e-mails to mine and said that although it was not intended for this use it was perfectly safe to use it for this. They said they do not plan to market it for this as it is an acne treatment but they do have a similar product coming out soon specifically for seb.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

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