The Itchy Truth About Dandruff Skip to main content
Home > For the Man on the Go: Ways to Nourish Your Scalp (Style)

The Itchy Truth About Dandruff

by Ma. Cristina Antonio
31 Jul 2017 | 2:10 PM

Did you know that six out of ten Filipino men experience dandruff? Drew Copuyoc, Clear’s brand manager shares that males comprise 70% of the anti-dandruff shampoo market in the country, a very telling fact that shows the perennial problem of the itchy scalp among men.

Let’s take a look at Jerome’s case. This 24-year old yuppie has been working for almost five years now as a Marketing Specialist in a startup agency. Because of stress and his lifestyle he often experiences “snow shoulders” when facing potential clients. He shares, “I’ve been experiencing dandruff since I was 12 years old, and I blamed it on my growth spurt back then. However, when I started having regular cases of it year after year, I asked myself is this something I’m going to suffer the rest of my life?”


But did you know that having dandruff doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a dry scalp? So before you pick a shampoo or scalp treatment, it’s best to identify the cause of the flakes.

What causes flakes?

It’s all caused by malassezia, a naturally occurring fungus on the scalp. Everyone has malassezia, but not everyone suffers from dandruff. One of the culprits of recurring dandruff is increased oil production and yeast infection that causes the skin cells to flake off more quickly. The condition is further aggravated by stress, weather, and diet.

Research identifies that the culprit behind yeast-induced dandruff is caused by fungus that thrives in yeasty, fatty, sugary environments. If you are experiencing a more prolonged and more severe or fungal case such as seborrhea or psoriasis, you need to immediately seek the help of your dermatologist or physician. These two complications have the same signs as the common dandruff, but can spread to the body and face. Taking all these into consideration, the best way to get rid of flakes is proper hygiene and using an anti-dandruff shampoo.

Active Anti-Dandruff Ingredients

There are a lot of anti-dandruff shampoos available, and if you’re reading this you may’ve already tried a few. You may experience that your current shampoo controlled the flakes for a time but then it recurred after a while. If this happens, switch to a product with another active ingredient, which will be labeled on the bottle. Below are the top five ingredients that help control dandruff. 
Zinc Pyritione is a common anti-fungal ingredient that helps treat fungus that causes dandruff. It works by slowing the production of skin cells, helping to reduce flakiness. Unlike other active ingredients, this one is gentle enough for everyday use and can limit hairfall.

Sulfur is a mineral naturally found near volcanoes and hot springs that’s been used to heal fungal infections on the skin for centuries. Mixed with salicylic acid, the solutions help calm inflamed, irritated skin, preventing it from flaking off as dandruff, and allows temporary control of psoriasis and seborrhea.

When coal is carbonized to make soda or gasified to make gas, it produces a blackish-brown liquid called coal tar in the process. Coal tar helps to treat many scalp conditions, and controls the production of flakes. Coal Tar leaves skin sensitive to direct sunlight, though, and can cause discoloration for chemically color-treated hair.

Ketoconazole works as a fungicide –a potent fungi killer used in shampoos to treat dandruff that develops due to yeast infection. If you plan to use this, you should consult a doctor before using a shampoo containing ketoconazole because the ingredient has been known to cause liver damage from extensive, prolonged use.

Selenium sulfide is an active ingredient that slows down your skin cells from dying and will also reduce malassezia, thus controlling itchiness and flakiness. This ingredient may cause discoloring on light-colored or chemically color-treated hair.

Scalp Care Tips

Getting rid of dandruff is a commitment, especially when it is a recurring case and is caused by fungal infection. You’re probably itching to start your scalp treatment, but before you do so, read the scalp care tips below.

1. Take time to wash your hair. Dandruff thrives in oily scalps, so regular shampooing can help control the flakes. Massage your scalp and let the anti-dandruff shampoo settle for one to three minutes before thoroughly rinsing.
2. Wash your hair using cold water, as hot water may aggravate your scalp condition and may lead to hairfall and dry tips.
3. Avoid using styling products such as hairspray, gel, and mousse that may aggravate the flakes. If you notice the dandruff after using a new product, chances are that product is to blame.
4. If you notice redness or bleeding on the scalp or silvery/yellow flakes you may have either seborrhea or psoriasis. There are also a number of other conditions that can lead to an itchy scalp. See your dermatologist as soon as possible.