Scalp itch is a disorder caused by the drying and overgrowth of organisms of the scalp. Although scalp itch may also be caused by lice, let us dwell on the very common and notorious source of itching which is dandruff.
Dandruff may not be all too contagious and serious but it definitely causes problems for individuals. It is characterized by excessive flaking and persistent itching of the scalp. It may be treated with daily shampooing for mild cases. For recurring dandruff symptoms, medicated shampoo may do the job.
Modern research tells us that dandruff or scalp itch also comes from a yeast-like fungus. This breakthrough can help in better and effective treatments in the future for dandruff control.
Scalp Itch: Common Causes
Before dandruff or scalp itching is believed to be rooted from frequent shampooing, oily skin, dry skin, stress, poor diet, or too much use of styling products. Some of them may increase or just contribute to the scalp itch. But dermatologists and skin experts have pointed their fingers on malassezia as its main culprit.
Malassezia, formerly known as pityrosporum, is a fat-eating yeast that dwells on the scalp. Mostly healthy adults are the victims of this yeast especially when it grows out of control. Malassezia feeds on oils produced by hair follicles. It causes irritation which further develops into increase death of skin cells.
Flakes are created due to the replacement of old cells by the new ones. Normally the turnover of cells takes about a month. But with malassezia, the process is sped up to 11 days. The dead cells bundle together with scalp oil making the white color and flaky nature of dandruff.
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Scalp Itch: Risk Factors
Certain factors can dictate whether or not you’re most likely to contract dandruff. These are the following:
• Sex – Statistics have shown that there are more men than women that acquire dandruff or scalp itch. You may have guessed it right, it’s because of male hormones that contribute to the factors causing scalp itch.
• Age – Adults in their 40’s are in the peak of having dandruff. Furthermore, it has found out that the older the person is the lesser they are immune to scalp itching. Thus, this can cause a lifelong problem for them.
• Scalp Oil – Different individuals have different amounts of scalp oil produced at certain periods of time. It may vary because of age, sex and other certain factors. Since malassezia feeds on oil from the scalp, the oily it is the greater risk you have of scalp itch or dandruff.
• Other Health Conditions – Although uncertain as to the proper explanation, individuals with Parkinson’s disease are most likely to obtain dandruff. This goes the same for stressful people and those who have impairments in the immune system because of HIV or AIDS.
The good news is despite the persistent nature of scalp itch and dandruff, it can always be controlled. More often than not, it only requires regular shampoo that can keep the moisture of your scalp and hair. This is to reduce building up of cells and secretion of excessive oil.
If regular shampoos fail to treat scalp itch, you use classified dandruff shampoos. These are the following active ingredients in dandruff shampoos which you can experiment upon to suit what’s best for you:
• Ketoconazole shampoos (Nizoral) – This is the latest addition in the market. It is an antifungal agent which compliments that of regular shampoos. It may either be bought over-the-counter or on prescription basis.
• Salicylic Acid (Ionil T) – Shampoos with salicylic acid help in eliminating scales. They act as scalp scrubs. The only disadvantage is your scalp may be left dry after use. Therefore, it is advisable to apply conditioner after using shampoos with salicylic acid.
• Selenium sulfide shampoos (Selsun, Exsel) – This works best at reducing the growth of malassezia. It can also help in preventing loss of skin cells.
• Zinc pyrithione shampoos (Suave Dandruff Control Shampoo) – These shampoos are antifungal and antibacterial in nature. Zinc pyrithione reduces the occurrence of fungus and seborrheic dermatitis.
You can choose from among the above mentioned dandruff shampoos. Or you can have alternate uses of you find that one kind may loose its effect on treating your scalp itch or dandruff.
If symptoms still persist, try consulting your dermatologist. Doctors may recommend other products with stronger agents that may counteract on certain scalp conditions.