Q: What shampoo is the best to get rid of dandruff? Please help.
A: According to the Mayo Clinic, you may want to make sure that what you are experiencing is actually dandruff. There are many different
conditions that cause excessive skin scaling. These include:
1. Dry skin. Simple dry skin — the kind you get in winter when the air is cold and
rooms are overheated — is by far the most common cause of itchy, flaking skin.
But flakes from dry skin are generally smaller and less oily than those caused by dandruff.
2. Seborrheic dermatitis. This condition, a frequent cause of dandruff, is marked by
red, greasy skin covered with flaky white or yellow scales. Seborrheic dermatitis
affects not only your scalp but also other areas rich in oil glands, such as your
eyebrows, the sides of your nose and the backs of your ears, your breastbone,
your groin area, and sometimes your armpits.
3. Psoriasis. This skin disorder causes an accumulation of dead skin cells that form
thick silvery scales. Psoriasis commonly occurs on your knees, elbows and trunk,
but it can also affect your scalp.
4. Cradle cap (seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp). This disorder, which causes a
scaling, crusty scalp, is most common in newborns, but it can occur anytime
during infancy. Although it can be alarming for parents, cradle cap isn't dangerous
and usually clears up on its own by the time a baby is a year old.
5. Contact dermatitis. Sometimes sensitivities to certain hair-care products or hair
dyes can cause a red, itchy, scaling scalp.
You may actually need to contact a physician to confirm that what you are suffering from is dandruff
as opposed to one of these other conditions. If you have more than simply scalp flaking and itch as a symptom, you should definitely see a physician.
As for actual dandruff, sources differ on what actually causes the condition. Historically, dandruff
has been blamed on poor diet, dry skin, oily skin, shampooing too often, not shampooing often enough, stress, and the use of too many
styling products. While some of these factors can seem to contribute to scalp flaking, researchers have identified a yeast-like,
fat-eating fungus called malassezia (formerly known as pityosporum ovale) as a likely potential culprit in the cause of dandruff.
Because dandruff is a chronic condition, it may take patience in order to find a solution to control
it. There are many, many dandruff shampoos available over the counter, and most doctors recommend trying one of these daily until your
dandruff clears up, then cutting back to use once or twice a week. If you find that a shampoo seems to be less effective as you continue
using it, you should switch to a different product for a time. Dandruff shampoos can be categorized as follows:
• Zinc pyrithione shampoos (Selsun Salon, Head & Shoulders). These contain the
antibacterial and antifungal agent zinc pyrithione, which has been shown to reduce
the fungus that causes dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis.
• Tar-based shampoos (Neutrogena T/Gel). Coal tar, a by-product of the coal
manufacturing process, helps conditions such as dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis
and psoriasis by slowing cell turnover.
• Shampoos containing salicylic acid (Ionil T). These "scalp scrubs" help eliminate
scale, but they may leave your scalp dry, leading to more flaking. Using a
conditioner after shampooing can help counter dryness.
• Selenium sulfide shampoos (Selsun Blue). These shampoos help prevent cell
turnover and may also reduce the number of malassezia. Because they can
discolor blonde, gray or chemically colored hair, be sure to use them only as
directed and to rinse well after shampooing.
• Ketoconazole shampoos (Nizoral). The newest addition to the dandruff
armamentarium, ketoconazole is a broad-spectrum antifungal agent that may
work when other shampoos fail. It's available over-the-counter as well as by
These shampoos and shampoo formulas all have their proponents and detractors. As with many things in
life, there are as many people who favor one product as favor another, and it may boil down to personal preference or personal results
as to which of these products will work best for you.