The Truth About Men and Dandruff

First Snowfall of Winter

It’s happened to the best of us. You’ve had a greet meeting with your boss or just given a killer presentation. You go out to celebrate with your buddies. As you remove your navy sport coat, you notice, to your horror, white flakes on the shoulders. And it’s not snowing outside.

Don’t beat yourself up. Dandruff is normal. Everyone has it to some degree and nearly everyone experiences a full-blown case of it at least once in his or her lifetime. Unfortunately, men get dandruff more than women.

Skin cells (including those on your scalp) are constantly sloughing off and being replaced with new ones. For people with dandruff, this skin cell turnover goes into overdrive resulting in more dead skin being shed. The result— tiny white flakes in your hair. In addition to your scalp, you can get dandruff on your eyebrows, eyelashes, beard, and inside your ears, and some unlikely few will get it on their chest hair.

Before you buy anti-dandruff shampoo, determine whether or not the flakes are actually dandruff. In many instances, it’s simply hair product that has dried and begun to flake. Notice, do you get flakes only in the afternoon or evening after the product has had time to dry out? If so, it’s likely not dandruff. In general, hair gels are more prone to drying out and flaking whereas creamy pomades are less likely.

Though unsightly, dandruff is not dangerous. It won’t make you sick. It’s not contagious. And it won’t cause balding. Nevertheless, I’ve never met anyone who wants to keep his dandruff.

So, here’s how to treat dandruff and stay flake-free:

1. Try OTC medicated shampoos specially formulated for dandruff with ingredients such as ketoconazole (Nizoral shampoo), selenium sulfide (Selson Blue and Head and Shoulders), pyrithione zinc 1% (Clear Men Scalp Therapy), and tar (Neutrogena T/Gel). Yes, coal tar. It reduces both inflammation and flaking. If you don’t like the medicinal smell of these shampoos, try Clear Men Scalp Therapy which has a much more pleasant, fresh fragrance.

2. Wash hair with medicated shampoo daily. It’s a myth that shampooing makes dandruff worse. Dandruff is not dry scalp. The more frequently you wash, the more yeast you remove, leading to less dandruff.

3. You can use medicated shampoo anywhere you get dandruff including your beard, eyebrows, and chest. Just be careful when you wash around your eyes.

4. For redness and itching try hydrocortisone cream 1%, readily available at drug stores.

5. For those looking for all-natural treatments, try this: Mix 1 part white vinegar to 3 to 4 parts water and massage into your scalp while you’re in the shower. You can do this 1 to 3 times a day. You can also massage it into your scalp and leave on overnight  (that is, if the smell doesn’t make your partner run from the room). Having said that, vinegar, however natural, isn’t as effective as medicated shampoos.

In severe cases where your dandruff doesn’t respond to any treatments, see your dermatologist. You may have psoriasis, or another condition that warrants medical attention.

For more information about raising awareness of men’s health issues, check out my post on Movember and becoming a member. And please consider donating to this cause.

Here’s another Movember post you might enjoy reading: Why More Men Are Dying From Skin Cancer.

Photo credit: FCC, martinak15