There are treatments and cures for dandruff and other more serious scalp conditions that can cause hair loss.
As explained in Dandruff and More Serious Scalp Conditions: Causes, an itchy and flakey scalp condition can be simple dandruff, which is not a disease. But it might be something else that requires special attention. The following are recommendations culled from dermatologists and general practitioners who work with scalp and skin conditions:
Several shampoo brands specifically promote themselves for their ability to fight dandruff, and almost all of them contain pyrithione zinc as the active ingredient. Additionally, some dermatologists recommend the use of tar shampoo, daily for two weeks and twice a week after that.
But reducing excessive dandruff — everyone has a small degree of dandruff, as it is part of the natural process of skin removal all over the body — can also be approached through diet and might include supplementing the diet with evening primrose oil and black currant oil, both of which provide the rare gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). Your diet could also include ground flaxseed, walnuts, fish oil supplements, sardines, mackerel, crab and wild-caught Alaskan salmon, all of which contribute to healthier hair and scalp.
If your dandruff persists, it may be something more serious that should be addressed by other means. Alternative conditions are as follows, along with their treatments:
Because this is associated with exposure to a product that irritates the skin or to which the skin is allergic, removal of the offending item is the most effective means of controlling dermatitis. Those products can include hair care items, soaps, detergents, solvents or acids.
Individuals with allergies or asthma often have skin reactions to soaps and detergents, heat, cold, and pet dander. Avoiding these irritants can mitigate the effects. If moisturizing creams can be found that is nonirritating, such creams can reduce dryness and flaking. Cold compresses also can relieve itchiness. Over-the-counter treatments that include hydrocortisone, or other types of ointments that contain corticosteroids, can reduce inflammation. In more severe cases, a physician can prescribe stronger versions of these treatments or, if necessary, antibiotics when the affected area is infected, as well as antihistamines, ultraviolet phototherapy, and cyclosporine.
Inflamed follicles (folliculitis)
Because the follicles, from which each strand of hair grows, can be infected by another cause, it is important to see a dermatologist to determine what the root cause might be. Treatment can come in the form of shampoos that contain tea tree oil, from the Melaleuca alternifolia, which is a natural antibacterial and germicidal treatment available in natural health stores as a means of addressing all kinds of fungal infections.
The first and perhaps most difficult advice for a person with psoriasis is to avoid scratching affected areas; otherwise, breaking the skin opens the opportunity for staph and strep infections. Be careful to make sure this is not misdiagnosed as seborrheic dermatitis (or vice versa). The staff at MayoClinic.com recommend treatment on three levels: topical treatments (corticosteroids, vitamin D analogues, anthralin, retinoids, calcineurin inhibitors, salicylic acid, coal tar and moisturizers to reduce itching associated with several of these other remedies), phototherapy (sunlight, UVB [ultraviolet B] phototherapy, narrowband UVB therapy, UVB combined with coal tar, and several other forms of light treatment, as directed by a dermatologist), and prescriptive medications (retinoids, methotrexate, cyclosporine, hydroxyurea, immunomodulatory drugs and thioguanine).
Over-the-counter dandruff shampoos can reduce SD, although the condition is chronic and never fully cured. It can disappear for stretches of time and tends to improve with warmer weather, when individuals with it are outdoors more often. Four types of shampoo are recommended for sufferers: those containing salicylic acid (Scalpicin), selenium sulfide (Selsun Blue), pyrithione zinc (Head & Shoulders), and coal tar (Neutrogena T/Gel). There are other brand names that contain these ingredients as well; be sure to follow directions for frequency of use.
As with all matters of hair, skin and general health, a good diet, and regular exercise provide optimum blood circulation and nutrients to all parts of the body. Since several of these conditions have to do with a proper immune response, this all the more reinforces the benefits of good nutrition and physical activity.