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How to Get Flake-Free Fast:
Banishing Dandruff

How to Use Dandruff Shampoo

Your mom's on your back about your math grade, the boy you have a crush on likes your best friend, and you have a huge history test coming up. On top of that you notice tiny white flakes on your sweater. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to know that you have dandruff. Luckily, this is one problem that you don't have to worry about for long. Dandruff (also called seborrhea) is simply an increased production of the skin cells that cover your scalp. As new cells form, the old cells clump off and you're left with flakes on your favorite navy sweater. While there is no cure for dandruff, it's very common and completely harmless. In some cases, dandruff can turn into an itchy, inflamed rash that covers the scalp, and sometimes the face, back, and chest, called seborrheic dermatitis.

While dandruff is no one's idea of a good time, the good news is that it's easy to treat. Although no one knows what causes dandruff, it may have to do with an oily scalp. So, if you have a mild case, frequent shampooing with a gentle shampoo may do the trick. If it doesn't, pick up a medicated dandruff shampoo from the drugstore. Here's what's out there:
  • Shampoos with the ingredients selenium sulfide or zinc pyrithione (ZPT). These work well for many people because they slow down the rate at which your scalp produces new cells. Many of these can be used every day because they're gentle and won't harm your hair. But some of these shampoos can be very drying to your hair if your hair is chemically treated. You may need to use a good conditioner to keep your hair from getting too dry.
  • If these don't work, try a tar-based shampoo like Neutrogena T/Gel. Beware, though, because some tar-based shampoos may discolor light hair.
  • For tougher cases of dandruff, try the antifungal shampoo Nizoral. It's available in prescription and nonprescription strengths. Nizoral works by controlling the growth of the yeast that occurs naturally on the scalp. Yeast may aggravate dandruff in certain people. By getting rid of the yeast, you get rid of the dandruff.
In general, tar-based and antifungal shampoos should only be used once or twice a week. back to top

How to Use Dandruff Shampoo
Massage the shampoo into your hair and scalp. Since dandruff affects the scalp, it's important to make sure that the shampoo covers the scalp and not just your hair. Let the lather sit for 5 to 10 minutes to give the ingredients a chance to work. Then rinse and style as usual.

Since there is no cure for dandruff, you may have to use a dandruff shampoo regularly or whenever your dandruff acts up. For best results, always check the bottle to see how many times a week you should use the shampoo. back to top

Last Modified Date: 3/28/2001
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