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Condition - Dandruff (dry)

(Pityriasis Capitis)

By Nutri People

Dry dandruff (Pityriasis Capitis) is caused by excessive flaking and abnormal shedding of the skin. As the epidermal layer continually replaces itself, cells are pushed outward where they eventually die and flake off. These flakes of skin are barely visible to most people, however in certain cases the cell turnover can be unusually rapid, especially on the scalp. For those people who suffer with dandruff, maturation and shedding of the skin cells occurs over 2-7 days, as opposed to approximately a month for people without dandruff. This tends to be confined to areas where the scalp is particularly oily, although this is not always a factor.  The result is that dead skin cells are shed in large, oily clumps.  These appear as small white or grey scales on the scalp, skin and clothes. Some people over a period of time, or as a result of certain triggers experience particularly large amounts of flaking. It is often unsightly, sore, red and itchy and can be a source of anxiety for many people. 

CAUSES

Recent studies have discovered that there is a scalp specific fungus called Malassezia globosa that appears to be responsible for dandruff. The fungus, which is genetically related to yeast, feeds on sebum, the oil that is produced by the sebaceous glands found in the skin. The resulting reactions penetrate the skin and produce an inflammatory response in susceptible people, which results in the erratic shedding of cells.

Dandruff is an entirely different problem to the more common and easily treated dry scalp. A dry scalp is normally due to over use of high detergent products and frequent chemical services on the hair. It can be avoided by choosing good quality hair products, rinsing the hair thoroughly after washing and cutting down on the number of chemical services the hair and scalp are subjected to. Dealing with dermatitis however, requires a different approach. 

CONTRIBUTING FACTORS

Some people can be genetically predisposed to Dandruff. In rare cases it can be a manifestation of an allergic reaction brought about by chemicals in hair preparations. Some evidence suggests that climate and excessive perspiration may play a part in the development of this condition. 

SUPPORTING NUTRIENTS

Tackling inflammation and supporting good skin health should help to reduce the common symptoms of dandruff.  It is important to follow a healthy balanced diet paying particular attention to the following nutrients: 

  • Zinc - Skin is in a continual state of renewal, placing a high demand on zinc-based enzymes and proteins that direct this process. Zinc is lost rapidly through the urine following acute or chronic psychological stress; in these situations supplementation may be advisable. 
  • Grapefruit seed extract - This has anti-fungal properties and can be added to a mild shampoo to help kill off any fungal overgrowth. 
  • Aloe vera - Aloe vera has been used throughout the ages for its healing and soothing properties and can be applied to wet hair or scalp as a treatment. 
  • Fish Oil - Omega 3 essential fatty acids found in fish oils are vital for maintaining flexibility of the cell membranes. A deficiency of these may lead to dry skin and hair. In addition to this studies have shown that fish oils may be effective at reducing inflammation. 
  • MSM - Methyl Sulphonyl Methane is involved in making collagen and keratin, thereby helping to maintain strong, healthy hair and skin. MSM is responsible for the flexible disulfide bonds between cells, including those that make up the skin. Consequently MSM is thought to enhance tissue pliability and encourage repair in damaged skin.  
  • Biotin - Biotin and vitamin C help the body assimilate MSM. 
  • Antioxidants - A fungal infection will cause free radical damage in the skin. Increasing the intake of antioxidants will help to protect the skin against damage. 

DIETARY ADVICE

  • Eat more oily fish, nuts and seeds, which have natural anti-inflammatory properties. Eating oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, anchovies or sardines twice a week can help to support healthy levels of essential fatty acids in the cells.
  • Include foods containing zinc, which can be found in wheat, corn, yeast, pumpkin seeds, lentils, corn, eggs, oysters and steak.
  • Eat plenty of cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, fruit grains and meat as these contain substantial amounts of MSM. Most of it is lost in food preparation as it is highly water soluble. Keep the liquid from cooked vegetables to use in casseroles, soups, gravy and sauces.
  • Reduce the intake of saturated fats, found in meat, butter, cheese cream biscuits cakes and pastries. Saturated fats slow down the conversion of the healthy fats needed for their anti-inflammatory benefits.
  • Make sure a range of colourful fruit and vegetables, nuts and wholegrain foods are included in the diet to ensure adequate levels of vitamin C and antioxidants to support skin repair. 

LIFESTYLE ADVICE

  • Try to identify any hair products that may be causing an allergic reaction by a process of elimination.
  • Regular shampooing will remove dead skin cells from the scalp and decrease the rate at which these cells are created.
  • Add an anti-fungal product to your shampooing regime.
  • Moderate daily exercise will increase the amount of antioxidant enzymes your body makes offering further protection from free radical damage. 

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