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 hair problems:   dandruff   or   scurf   -   What to do?

Information about dandruff/ scurf, Seborrheic Dermatitis and Seborrhea, triggers and treatments.
 Source: "Don't go shopping for hair-care products without me"

Dandruff - Seborrheic Dermatitis - Seborrhea

There are distinct differences between above-mentioned hair problems. Dandruff appears as scaling on the scalp without redness or inflammation. Seborrheic Dermatitis has the same flaking as dandruff, but with pronounced redness, inflammation and itching. Instead, an extreme, thick oiliness is present that creates a matted, rough, crusty appearance where the lesions occur. The size of the eruption, the texture of the oil and the tendency toward flaky skin are what differentitate seborrhea from plain, flaky dandruff.


Triggers dandruff

  • Genetic desposition.
  • A symptom of other diseases like psoriasis or head lice.
  • Too little shampooing or too much shampooing.
  • Hair dye.
  • Poor diet.
  • Cold weather.
  • Hormonal imbalances.


Treating Dandruff - Seborrheic Dermatitis - Seborrhea

First of all it is important to know that dandruff is not contagious and the myth about dandruff causing hair loss is just that, a myth. There is no scientific basis or evidence for the notion.


  • With a special dandruff shampoo you can easily start fighting the symptoms. Especially with the use of shampoos that contain antimicrobial ingredients like ketoconazole (Nizoral - available in both prescription strength and over the counter), zinc pyrithione (Head & Shoulders) or selenium sulfide (Selsun Blue; smells terrible). Those ingredients help to decrease the amount of yeast present.


  • Chronic or extremely stubborn dandruff or seborrhea that doesn't respond to other over-the-counter options can try coal tar. It slows the creation of skin cells and is an antimicrobial agent. It works by reducing the numbers of flakes present on the scalp and eliminating the yeast in the hair follicle that cause the condition.

    Risks associated with Coal Tar
    Coal tar also produces photosensitivity, a skin reaction that occurs with exposure to sunlight. Residual amounts of coal tar may remain on the scalp, hair or surrounding areas after use, which means that if you're going out in the sun after shampooing with these products, you need to take extra precautions.

    Regrettably, coal tar is a controversial ingredient for dandruff control because there is evidence that in LARGE concentrations it can be a carcinogen, particularly for causing skin, lung and scrotum cancer. However, there is no research showing that the use of coal tar in dandruff shampoos has this effect.


  • Piroctone olamine is a relatively new antifungal ingredient tht is in the process of being approved by the FDA for use in dandruff shampoos. It has been available in Europe for such use and has been shown to be very effective (source: International Journal of Cosmetic Science, December 2003)


  • Tea trea oil (also called melaleuca) is derived from a tree native to Australia. Daily shampooing with 5% pure tea trea oil reduces the severity and extent of dandruff. Unfortunately, tea trea oil hair-care products contain less than 1% tea trea oil. You could try to buy pure tea trea oil at health food stores and apply that to your scalp.

As successful as dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis treatments can be, the problem with all the active ingredients is that theay can have irritating, sensitizing and drying side effects.

In the beginning you should wash your hair daily. When the flaking is minimized or eliminated, you can alternate the dandruff shampoo with a shampoo for your scalp type, which can be anything from normal to dry. Repeat this until all the symptoms are gone, so your irritated scalp heals better. If necessary you can also see your doctor about prescription options.

.Be careful : If you color your hair avoid dandruff products that contain sulfur or selenium sufide because these ingredients can strip hair color.