Ever had to tell someone to dust the white off his/her hair? Ever comb your hair with white flakes falling to your clothes and your surround? Also felt like scratching your hair off your head? If you’ve had these experiences along with the feeling of a dry scalp, then you have most likely dealt with dandruff. Contrary to popular opinion, dandruff is not caused by poor hygiene although it becomes more noticeable when the hair is not well taken care of.
Dandruff usually occurs when there is an increase in the shedding of the old cells of the scalp. This leads to the accumulation of whitish/greyish flakes of dead scalp skin in the hair. The increase in shedding could be as a result of tinea capitis, popularly known as ringworm; eczema; allergic dermatitis which is a reaction to hair products; and seborrheic dermatitis – an overgrowth of yeast.
Treatment of dandruff does not usually involve a hospital visit. Simple regular washing of the hair can sometimes be enough. The main treatment though is to use anti-dandruff shampoos which have been found to be effective. It is important to read instructions on these hair products carefully to avoid adverse reactions. It is also important to note that complete cessation in the application of these treatments may lead to a re-occurrence. Hence, it is better to reduce the frequency of usage rather than to put a total stop to the treatment.
If there is no improvement after a month or there is an associated scarring of the scalp and severe itching occurs; or yet still an underlying medical condition occurs, then the hospital should be the next port of call.
**Michael Imeh, a DHI volunteer writes in from Lagos