Men’s dandruff is the presence of small, white scales that usually appear on the scalp and hair. It can easily be mistaken for dry scalp because the symptoms of both conditions are flaky, itchy, irritated scalp, but a dry scalp does not have the oily scalp that is common to men’s dandruff.
The medical term for men’s dandruff is pityriasis capitis. Just as the skin on other parts of the body is continually being shed and replaced, the uppermost layer of the scalp goes through the same process. Skin cells in the outer layer of the scalp flake off and are replaced by new cells from below. Ordinarily, these scales loosen and fall off freely, so the natural shedding of the scalp’s dead scales should not be mistaken for men’s dandruff.
Men’s dandruff is characterized by the excessive production, shedding and accumulation of surface cells. Instead of growing to the surface and falling off, these horny scales accumulate on the scalp. A sluggish scalp due to poor circulation, infection, injury, improper diet, or poor personal hygiene can contribute to this accumulation, as does the use of strong shampoos and/or insufficient rinsing of the hair.
Although the cause of men’s dandruff has been debated for over 150 years, current research confirms that it is the result of a fungus called malassezia, formerly named pityrosporum. Malassezia is a naturally occurring fungus that is present on all human skin, but develops the symptoms of men’s dandruff when it grows out of control.
Factors including stress, age, hormones, and hygiene can cause the fungus to multiply and dandruff symptoms to worsen. Anti-dandruff shampoos containing anti-fungal ingredients such as pyrithione zinc. selenium sulfide, or ketoconazole help control it by suppressing the growth of malassezia.
At one time men’s dandruff was thought to be contagious; however, the latest research has determined that it is not. Regardless of whether or not dandruff is contagious, the common use of tools and implements from one client to another in the barber shop is prohibited. Barbers must always practice approved cleaning and disinfection procedures before and after each client service.
At the Deseret Barber Shop in Salt Lake City we practice very strict tool and implement sanitation and disinfection practices. Any comb that falls on the floor is or is in any other way contaminated is placed in a sanitizing and disinfection fluid until it is safe to use again. The same is true of razors, clippers and trimmers which are constantly being cleaned and sanitized. Our clients deserve the very best in safety and cleanliness.
While there are many products which are available to treat men’s dandruff once you have it, it is always wise to take action to prevent it before it happens. A good diet which is balanced and gives you good nutrition is a good place to start. Exercise which stimulates the body and increases the blood circulation is another very important aspect to prevention.
Perhaps the most important is good personal hygiene. Keeping your hair and scalp clean and stimulated with proper shampooing using quality products it paramount to preventing dandruff before it gets started. But after all of these steps if you still end up getting a case of dandruff, use one of the many medical products available to treat the fungus and you should be back to normal in a reasonable time.