How to Banish Dandruff This New Year

How to Banish Dandruff This New Year

Managing Dry Scalp and Dandruff 

There may not be white snowflakes on the ground, but we may see the odd white flake on people’s shoulders this winter. Dry skin is a common problem and when it affects the scalp we see the evidence of dandruff very clearly. It affects both men and women, mostly in their twenties; it is the most common scalp problem to walk into a Pharmacy.

Winter Image

There are several factors that control the occurrence of dandruff and, like snow, cold windy weather is one of them. Wintry weather and moving between warm buildings and cold environments has a drying effect on our skin and almost everything you do to your hair can have a drying and damaging effect. Of course, the last thing you want is to spoil your crowning glory. Too many sugary and refined carbohydrates and not enough nutrients like Vitamin B and essential fatty acids can also dry the skin. Not such an easy fix at this time of the year.                                                                                                                                        Image copyright of torange.biz.                           

Hair Brush ImageThe elements you can control are making sure you eat well, brush your hair regularly, and generally treat your hair gently when shampooing and drying. The dandruff that you see is usually made up of piles of dead skin cells and regular brushing will encourage these skin cells to shed normally. Apart from unsightly clumps of dandruff, ready to fall whenever you move your head, the scalp can become itchy. Of course, do check that the white bits in your hair aren’t crawling nits, which is a whole other problem. Not scratching an itch can be almost impossible to do, but try rubbing or massaging the area rather than getting your nails out. You can also try to brush your hair gently to avoid getting an infection. 

Dandruff ImageAnother cause of dandruff is an overgrowth of a fungal yeast, previously known as pityrosporum ovale, but now called malassezia - try saying that after a few mulled wines! Seborrhoeic dermatitis can affect the whole body and might be caused by that same fungus: it can look more serious and might need a visit to the GP for a prescription of anti-fungal, or even antibiotic, treatment.

Never Fear, Anti-Dandruff is Here!

Those embarrassing dandruff flakes can be cleared up easily with a specialised shampoo. Which one to use can be a harder decision; generally speaking if you haven’t seen an improvement within a few weeks, try a different one. Once you do see an improvement stick with it, as it may come back. Anti-Fungal shampoos containing Zinc Pyrithione, Coal Tar, Arachis Oil, Extract of Coal Tar, Ketoconazole, Selenium Sulphide, Ciclopirox Olamine, Undecenoic Acid all help to reduce the overgrowth of yeast. Keratolytic, Salicylic Acid and Benzalkonium all help to remove the build up of dead skin cells and can be found in combination with some anti-fungals. Ask your GP, as these can be cheaper on prescription.

Here at Boswells we have a range of specialised shampoos including (in our cosmetics department):

In the Pharmacy we have:

  • Selsun ImageSebamed Anti-Dandruff Shampoo for an oily dandruff prone scalp. £5.10 200ml.
  • Selsun Shampoo 2.5% w/v (Selenium Sulphide) Medical treatment for Dandruff £5.53 150ml. Not recommended for children under 5 years old. 
  • Capasal Therapeutic Shampoo (Salicylic Acid 0.5% w/w, Coconut Oil 1.0% w/w, Distilled Coal Tar 1.0% w/w;) £9.38 250ml. For dry, scaly scalp conditions, and to remove previous scalp applications.
  • Neutrogena T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo Coal Tar Extract. £5.90-£9.10 125ml-250ml.
  • Nizoral Anti-Dandruff Shampoo Fragrance Free. £6.48 60ml.
  • Alphosyl 2 in 1 Shampoo Medicated Coal Tar. £6.99 250ml.
  • Oilatum Scalp Anti-Dandruff Shampoo £9.18 100ml. For itchy, flaking scalps, including stubborn dandruff.
  • Neem Shampoo £5.99 200ml. Contains extracts of Neem leaves and has a soothing action, leaving the scalp and hair feeling fresh and healthy. Keep out of reach and sight of children. Not suitable for those with nut allergies and not for use during pregnancy.
  • Head & Shoulders: the classic choice of various shampoos, conditioners and 2 in 1's. £2.99-£3.10.

Head and ShouldersDon't forget that if you use harsh shampoos they can dry the scalp out, so don't overdo these products, as you could make things worse! Call in to Boswells and ask the advice of our pharmacists to prevent this from happening. There are many other products designed to moisturise your hair and scalp, including deep oil treatments that can be left on the hair. If you really want to give your dry itchy scalp a treat, Baby Oil and Baby Shampoo are the key. Gently massage a few drops of Baby Oil into your scalp, place a shower cap over your hair and leave for an hour while you relax. Later use the Baby Shampoo to gently rinse the Oil out, leaving your skin richly moisturised and flake free. This treatment does not increase the dryness of the scalp skin, which makes dandruff worse.

So why not start the New Year with a happy, flake free scalp? Enjoy!

Banner image credit, cropped from original.

6th January 2016

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