Tag Archives: causes

Dandruff Vintage Ad

Nothing To Be Embarrassed About: A Closer Look At Dandruff & Dry Flaky Scalp

February 10, 2013

Look up there! It’s a bird. It’s a snowflake. No, it’s your dandruff!

Kidding aside, have you seen those anti-dandruff shampoo commercials where the person gets embarrassed about the white flakes on their shoulders? Well, that’s not actually dandruff.

In fact, a lot of people who think they have dandruff actually have a case of dry scalp. And it’s important to know the difference so you can appropriately treat the correct problem.

Dandruff Vintage Ad

Dry Flaky Scalp 

Symptoms

Dry scalp is characterized by those white, scaly flakes that you often see in anti-dandruff shampoo commercials. This condition is sometimes accompanied by an itchy and irritated scalp.

Causes

The possible causes are numerous. It could be caused by hereditary traits, stress, hormonal changes, lack of sebum, insufficient rinsing of shampoo, using too harsh a shampoo, over-washing the hair, using excessively hot water, vitamin imbalance, pollution, change in seasons, air-conditioning and central heating, and sometimes it can be a side-effect of medication.

Possible Solutions

  • Gently brushing your scalp before washing your hair can help loosen dead skin cells.
  • Use cooler water since hot water can strip the scalp of its natural oils and cause it to feel tight and dry.
  • Choose gentle shampoos that will not excessively strip the scalp of its natural oils.
  • Reduce the number of times you wash your hair in order to give your scalp the chance to produce enough sebum and to re-balance its own natural pH.
  • Drink plenty of water regularly. Drinking too little water can cause the skin on the scalp to become dehydrated.
  • Eat foods rich in vitamins A, B, zinc, iron and essential fats, which can help to alleviate the problem of a dry scalp.
  • Avoid using anti-dandruff shampoos for treating dry scalp. Alcohol in anti-dandruff shampoos can dry out sebaceous glands even more.
  • Look for calming serums and lotions that are designed to soothe and re-moisturize the scalp.
  • Hair care products that contain tea tree oil can help soothe itchiness.
  • Treatments with gentle exfoliating beads (like Kiehl’s micro-exfoliating scalp treatment) can help to exfoliate dead skin cells and product buildup.
  • Make sure to rinse out hair care products thoroughly.

Dandruff 

Dandruff should not be a cause for embarrassment as it has nothing to do with poor hygiene. It is a shockingly common scalp disorder, one that affects almost half of the adult population regardless of gender or ethnicity.

Symptoms

Dandruff is usually characterized by larger, greasy or waxy flakes or clusters of yellowish grey skin cells. It is a condition usually accompanied by itching.

Cause

There are three main factors that (when combined together) can contribute to dandruff:

  1. Overproduction of sebum by the sebaceous glands in the scalp.
  2. Metabolic by-products of a type of fungus called Malassezia. 
  3. Individual susceptibility. 

Having oily scalp does not necessarily mean you will get dandruff. Dandruff is the result of very rapid skin cell turnover. For people with dandruff, skin cells may mature and be shed in 2-7 days, as opposed to around a month in people without dandruff. Doctors are still uncertain as to why this happens.

One theory is that the fungus called Malassezia, which is normally present in most people, feed on sebum. Its byproducts then produces an inflammatory response in susceptible people. In other words, the flaky, itchy symptoms associated with dandruff may be the result of the immune system’s overreaction to the fungus.

Dandruff is tricky to diagnose because its symptoms easily blur with those of seborrhoeic dermatitis and other skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. If you are suffering from severe irritation or if the symptoms extend beyond the scalp, it’s very important to seek medical professional help to diagnose the root cause (ahem) of your problems.

Possible Treatments and Solutions

Although there doesn’t seem to be a solution that can make dandruff go away FOREVER, there are some treatments that can help to control it.

  • Look for shampoos that contain Zinc Pyrithione (like Kiehl’s Anti-Dandruff Zinc Pyrithione Shampoo) which is an anti-fungal and anti-bacterial agent that can help control the yeast population responsible for dandruff.
  • Other ingredients that might also be of help are ketoconazole and selenium sulfide.
  • If using dandruff shampoos, wash your hair between 3-5 times per week to help get the anti-fungal activity to the right level.
  • If using natural remedies, look for oils that possess anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. Examples are tea tree oil, neem and sandalwood.
  • Avoid using natural oils that feed the fungus Malassezia responsible for dandruff. This oil, oleic acid is present in the popular four natural oils –  coconut oil, shea butter, olive oil and castor oil.
  • Don’t scratch! It might provide temporary relief, but in the long-run scratching can make matters much worse by leading to pain and inflammation.
  • Rinse shampoo and hair care products thoroughly.
  • Cut down on styling products. The buildup of greasy or waxy hair care products like balms, gels and jellies can make dandruff worse.
  • Look at your diet and lifestyle. Diets high in saturated and trans fats can cause sebaceous glands to produce more oil, which feeds the fungus responsible for dandruff.
  • Incorporate varied fruits and veggies that contain zinc and B vitamins, which may help to alleviate the problem.

So there you have it!

A concise summary of all the information that I gathered about the problems of dandruff.

Personally, I am still on the lookout for more lifestyle-based solutions that will make the problem of dandruff go away. FOREVER.

My hunch is that our scalp problems are linked with what we eat being somehow responsible for feeding and multiplying the yeast that contributes to dandruff. There may also be other factors in our diet and lifestyle which can trigger the inflammatory response of our immune system to this fungus. But that’s just my hunch.

I’ll keep you posted when I find more information on longer-lasting solutions for dandruff.

Hope this was helpful!

Sources:
Haircare & Hairstyle by Nicky Pope
Dandruff vs Dry Scalp, What’s the Difference?Brighter Sides
Scalp Matters: Treating Dandruff and Scalp Eczema – The Natural Haven Bloom
Dandruff: The most commercially exploited skin disease – Indian Journal of Dermatology

Dark Eyes Can Be Mysterious

August 16, 2012

Raccoon eyes, panda eyes or periorbital dark circles. Whatever pet name you’ve chosen to fondly call them, dark under-eye circles can make you look older and more tired than you really feel. They are often attributed to lack of sleep.

But even during times when we’ve had plenty of sleep it can still be difficult to rid ourselves of the dark shadows under our eyes. While lack of sleep has a role to play, there are also many other factors that can contribute to dark under-eye circles. When it comes to getting rid of dark eye circles for good, it’s important to consider their actual sources.

So let’s look at some possible causes and remedies:

Skin Transparency. 

The skin around the eyelids is the part of the body with the thinnest skin. The dark circles under the eyes are blood vessels that can be seen through the skin. When blood passes through the large veins close to the surface of the skin, it can produce a bluish tint. The more transparent the skin, the darker the circles appear. While some people naturally have fairer or more transparent skin, lack of sleep can also make the skin look paler, allowing blood vessels to be more visible under the skin.

Lack of circulation.

Dark circles can be the result of fluid retention or blood vessel dilations. Dehydration can cause the blood vessels to become swollen. When this happens, the accumulation of fluids and blood vessels under the eyes can result in a dark, bluish tinge. Drinking water can help improve fluid circulation around the eyes. Other factors that can negatively affect circulation are a diet high in saltsmoking, as well as conditions involving the thyroid, kidney and liver and medications that could cause blood vessel dilation. Even the way that you sleep can affect circulation. Consider using an extra pillow to prop up your head so that fluids do not accumulate within the lower eyelids and cause puffiness and dark shadows.

Sun Exposure and Pigmentation.

Excess sun exposure can result in melanin or pigment production in the skin, leading to permanent darkening or pigmentation. It’s very important to protect your face against the sun using sunscreen that has a sufficiently high SPF (+30) or dark sunglasses.

Iron Deficiency.

Anemia, a condition due to a lack of iron, can make the skin look pale and the area around the eyes look darker. Eat iron-rich foods such as leafy greens, beans, prunes, eggs, oysters, etc.

Caffeine and Alcohol.

Not only does caffeine and alcohol dehydrate the body, they can also stimulate hormonal glands causing exhaustion and fatigue. Try to cut back on the caffeine and alcohol for a week and see how much this helps diminish the appearance of dark under-eye circles.

Sinus Congestion.

Congestion in your sinuses, whether due to a cold, allergies or a sinus infection, can dilate and darken the veins that drain from your eyes to your nose. Consider rinsing your sinuses regularly with the help of a nasal cleansing pot (also called a neti pot among yogis). Not only may regular sinus irrigation reduce dark eye circles, it will also definitely help to alleviate sinus problems.

Aging.

As we get older, skin and the fat pad under the eyes becomes thinner, causing blood vessels to become more noticeable. There are injection treatments specifically for thin under eye skin but the results may not always be guaranteed or permanent.

Genetics.

The most common culprit behind chronic under-eye circles is heredity. Dark circles are prevalent on all skin colors and types, but they especially trouble people with darker skin such as Africans, Southeast Asians and Southern Italians due to the extra pigmentation in the skin. If you have dark skin, it is especially important to use sun protection around your eyes in order to prevent excess pigmentation.

Remedies:

Apart from tackling dark under eye circles at their source, there are eye creams that can help to diminish dark under eye circles. When choosing eye creams, look for ones with ingredients that include Vitamin K, Vitamin A (Retinol), Vitamin C, Caffeine (as a topical solution), Green Tea, and Grapeseed.

Cool compresses like eye gel masks and cucumber slices on the eyes can reduce puffiness and dark shadows.

But if the dark-eyed look runs in your family, meaning that you’ve inherited it, there are not many natural remedies at your disposal. There are possible treatments by way of laser resurfacing, but they may not always work the way you want them to.

In some cases, it may just be better to embrace your natural dark-eyed look and flaunt it for its mysterious and intriguing allure =)

Photo Source: Wild Child