Dandruff is a common and widespread problem which approximately affects one in every two women. Apart from the uncomfortable symptoms like redness, itchiness and flakes on clothing, dandruff also affects self-confidence. That is exactly the reason why I feel it is important to do something about it. There are different solutions on the market, from low-end commercial products to medicated shampoos. We checked what works and what doesn’t.
What exactly is dandruff?
This may come as a surprise to many of you, but dandruff has nothing to do with poor hair care or a dry scalp. Dandruff is actually a medical condition, caused by a yeast-like fungus called Malassezia. This yeast that lives off skin grease is present on everybody’s skin, but it is overabundance that can cause dandruff. In that case, skin cell turnover becomes much faster, resulting in the oily flakes that appear on your clothes. Therefore, an effective dandruff treatment deals with Malassezia itself rather than with the symptoms or side effects that come with it.
Mild to moderate dandruff
First thing to check with itching and milder forms of dandruff is the possibility of an allergic reaction to one of the ingredients in your hair styling products. Eliminate one product at a time until you have found the villain. When you are sure that the itching and flaking are not caused by allergy, it is best to get yourself a good anti-dandruff shampoo. One tip I can give you is to stay away from retail products like Head & Shoulders. Best buys definitely include Neutrogena T/Gel Original Formula and Nizoral A-D Shampoo. The T/Gel has Neutar – refined and purified coal tar – as active ingredient, while Nizoral contains ketoconazole, known for its anti-fungal effects. Both are effective. Always leave the shampoo sit on your hair and scalp for a couple of minutes before you rinse. This gives the product some time to work its magic. If you like to wash your hair on a daily basis, Neutrogena’s T/Gel Daily Control is the one for you. This 2-in-1 formula with conditioner is better smelling and more gentle on the hair and scalp. This gentler product is also very well suited for color-treated hair.
For more severe cases of dandruff, there are some specialized products on the market. Neutrogena has its T/Gel Extra Strength which contains twice the amount of Neutar, or coal tar, found in the Original Formula. I must say, however, that the most effective dandruff treatment came from Nizoral 2% Anti-Dandruff Shampoo. Nizoral 2% is a stronger variant of the Nizoral A-D, which has only 1% of active ingredient. This shampoo is said to be as effective as the prescription strength Nizoral and it shows. As it is quite strong, start with one application a week. You can always go to twice a week when your dandruff proves to be stubborn. As an addition to either of these stronger formulas, there are two Neutrogena products I can recommend. The first one is the T/Sal Therapeutic Shampoo. It contains salicylic acid, which is known to break down flakes into smaller bits, keeping the scalp clear. This makes T/Sal an excellent companion to your T/Gel or Nizoral. If itching is your main issue, the T/Gel Stubborn Itch Control may bring some relief. It is essentially the same as the Original Formula but has menthol added, leaving you with itch relief and a fresh feeling. Finally, if your dandruff is not successfully treated by any of these available products, be sure to consult your dermatologist. He or she will provide you with a personalized treatment plan.
Have you ever been affected by dandruff? If so, what worked well for you as a treatment?
(image credit: Elisabeth Moore)