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Dandruff: How to Prevent the Flakes

Shoulder snow - it's not pretty or fun, but in order to treat dandruff, it'll help to know what's causing it in the first place. People used to think that those flakes were caused by dry or oily skin, shampooing too much or not often enough, poor diet, stress, or the use of too many styling products. While it's true that these can definitely not help your dandruff situation, the real cause has to do with malassezia.

This yeast-like fungus can be found on the scalps of many healthy heads, and you wouldn't even know it. The thing is, sometimes it can grow out of control, and since it feeds on the oils secreted by your follicles, it can cause your skin cells to die. These dead skin cells clump together with the oils in your hair, making them look whitish and flaky.

Why does this fungus multiply so much? Doctors aren't really sure, but it may have something to do with illness, hormonal fluctuations, not washing your hair enough, or extra sensitivity to the malassezia fungus.

OK, now my head is really itchy - is yours? What can you do to prevent dandruff? To find out

  • Since malassezia feeds on the oils produced by your hair follicles, daily shampooing may help to reduce the oily build-up on your scalp.
  • If this doesn't help, over the counter dandruff shampoos may be more effective. Head & Shoulders shampoo contains the antibacterial and antifungal agent zinc pyrithione, which can help reduce the growth of the malassezia fungus. Leave the shampoo on for at least 5 minutes so you can allow the medicine to work. Use this shampoo daily at first, and once your condition is controlled, you can cut back to 2 or 3 times a week. If these over the counter dandruff shampoos aren't doing the trick, you may need to get a stronger prescription dandruff shampoo from your doctor.
  • You may want to cut back on using tons of styling products as these can contribute to the oily build-up.
  • Make sure to get enough zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, and B vitamins - these can help prevent dandruff.
  • A little sunshine may also help. I'm not suggesting you lay out for hours and hours, since the ultraviolet rays aren't good for your skin. Cover yourself with sunscreen and take your dog (or just yourself) for a walk. The sunlight helps fight dandruff, and the fresh air, Vitamin D, and exercise are good for your body.


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