You may not know it, but your body is covered with yeast. Yes, yeast. It lives on everyone’s skin as part of our microbiome—the normal bacteria and fungus that live symbiotically with us. In some people, the yeast is NBD. In others, their immune system gets angry and tries to fight it off, resulting in inflammation. Translation: An itchy scalp and flakes.
Some suffer from dandruff year-round, while others get it only during the warmer months. In hot, humid weather, we sweat more and oil gets trapped on the skin. More oil means a happy environment for yeast to grow in, and the relatively higher yeast levels may lead to more dandruff.
So how do you finally get it to go away? Try these tips for a flake-free scalp.
Find the key ingredients. With so many dandruff treatments available over the counter, it’s hard to know what to choose. Here’s a breakdown of ingredients to look out for:
Use your anti-dandruff shampoos correctly. While dandruff shampoos will wash your hair, remember that dandruff is a scalp issue—not a hair problem. It can be a bit confusing because they’re called shampoos, but these products should actually be looked at as scalp treatments. So, using your fingertips, make sure to massage the products into the scalp, and let them sit there so they can do their job. Applying and then immediately rinsing will not allow enough contact time, so I usually tell patients to apply, sing the alphabet, then rinse.
Leave the steroids alone. As in, once you apply a topical steroid solution, it should be applied and left on the skin. Do not apply for more than two weeks in a row. If that much time passes and you don’t see improvement—or if your scalp issue is really severe—make sure to visit a dermatologist for an evaluation.
Accept the facts. Ultimately, whether we develop dandruff or not is determined by our genes and our body makeup. We can’t alter genetics that lead to yeast problems, so don’t freak out if this is a recurring issue. Just follow the tips above to help keep them under control.