Around 50% of the world’s population has experienced some form of dandruff at some point in their life, and anyone who has suffered dandruff will know the impact those little white flakes can have on confidence. Not only do those excess dead skin cells cause embarrassment, but they also cause discomfort and irritation.
When the renewal process of the scalp’s cells shortens, there is an increase in the shedding of dead skin cells, which stick together to those visible flakes.
It is a common misconception that dandruff is the result of a dirty scalp or hair, this is not the case. There are several issues, which can trigger a bout of dandruff, including stress, changes in climate, genetic predisposition, hormonal changes and microorganisms.
Just like there are several different skin types, there are a number of different scalp types that need specific methods of care to keep them healthy, and in the best possible condition. Understanding your scalp type will make it much easier to treat and even avoid irritating scalp conditions, like dandruff.
The different scalp types are mainly determined by the activity of the sebaceous glands, which are glands in the skin that produce the oily substance sebum that waterproofs and lubricates the skin and hair. Thus depending upon your scalp type you can easily get rid of dandruff.
The different scalp types can be defined as follows:
1. Dry Scalp
If hair is brittle, lifeless and susceptible to breakage, and the skin is often itchy and irritated, then the scalp is most likely to be dry. Common causes of a dry scalp include, changes in climate (particular to a colder, dryer climates) and dehydration. Dry-skin related dandruff is a common problem as a dry scalp is more likely to flake in visible, white and powder clumps.
A gentle routine is needed to combat a dry scalp and return shine to lacklustre hair. Choose a shampoo that smooth’s and hydrates, and avoid those that contain sulphates, or that are advertised as volumizing, as they can further dry out the hair and scalp.
A shampoo that specifically targets a dry, flaky scalp is the best choice – look out for hair care treatments that contain tea tree and menthol, as they are particularly effective in combating the dandruff associated with a dry scalp.
2. Oily Scalp
An oily scalp has sebaceous glands that are overactive, producing an excess amount of sebum, which gives the hair a lank and greasy appearance. Oil-related dandruff occurs when the excess sebum builds up, along with dead skin cells, to form greasy and yellow flakes.
Oily scalps are also susceptible to fungal dandruff, caused by the microorganism, Malassezia globosa, which thrive in the excess sebum. Oleic acid is produced by this fungus as a waste product, which promotes an increase in the renewal process of the skin cells of the scalp, leading to a build-up of dead skin cells.
To deal with an oily scalp, avoid shampoos that are moisturising, as they will only exacerbate the problem, by bringing more moisture to the scalp. Instead choose a clarifying shampoo that will rinse out any excess oil and oil-related dandruff, without stripping the hair. When using a conditioner, only apply to the mid-length and ends of the hair, avoiding the scalp completely, as it may worsen the oily condition of the skin.
3. Combination Scalp
A combination scalp can be particularly difficult to deal with, as the scalp and the ends of the hair, are at different ends of the spectrum, when it comes to dryness. The sebaceous glands are overactive, causing a build-up of sebum, which as well as contributing to oily dandruff, can be absorbed back into the scalp, stopping the essentials oils from travelling the length of hair strands. This means that the ends of the hair will be dry and frizzy, whilst the roots and scalp remain oily and greasy.
To treat combination scalp and hair, it is important to apply specific products to the right target areas, so as not to exacerbate the issues. To treat the oily scalp and associated dandruff, use a clarifying shampoo, making sure to avoid the brittle ends of the hair; to rehydrate the damaged ends, use a nourishing conditioner, ensuring to steer well clear of the scalp area.
4. Normal Scalp
Those with a normal scalp, will have hair that is healthy looking and easy to manage, and a scalp that is rarely irritated or itchy. Dandruff is rarely a problem, although hair and scalp will get somewhat drier in the winter and oily in the summer. So hair care during summer and winter need to be considered.
Since scalp and hair are easy to manage, it is important to keep things that way, by using mild shampoos and conditioners, and by avoiding any styling products with too many chemicals that may disturb the balance of the scalp.
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