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Itching, flaking and embarrassing moments are all par for the course when you’ve got dandruff. Several culprits conspire to cause dandruff on your scalp, including some of your favorite hair treatments. For instance, perms involve using harsh chemicals with suitably scary names such as sodium hydroxide, ammonium thioglycolate and ethanolamine that break down and reform the chemical structure of your hair. When these products come into contact with your scalp they can aggravate dandruff, which is certainly no beauty bonus.
Likely Dandruff Causes
Seborrheic dermatitis, which is oily, irritated skin, is one of the usual suspects when dandruff strikes. It irritates your scalp and leads to flaky white or yellow scales. A tell-tale sign that seborrheic dermatitis is a factor in your dandruff is if you have oily skin as well as flakes or scales elsewhere such as behind your ears or in your groin area. Winter’s cool, crisp weather is another common cause of dandruff and usually causes smaller, less oily flakes. A lack of shampooing, the fungus malassezia and psoriasis also cause dandruff.
The Role Perms Play
Hair products with harsh chemicals irritate your scalp, leaving you suffering with symptoms such as redness, itchiness and scales. However, perms and other hair products don’t cause dandruff for everyone who uses them, so it's possible you had the condition before and the products simply aggravated it. Or, you may have a sensitivity to any one of the ingredients commonly found in the hair product you’re using. As a result, you can develop a condition known as contact dermatitis, with the familiar symptoms of itching and flaking. It’s also possible that these effects may not happen right away; you may develop them after several perms.
Standard Dandruff Remedies
One of the good things about dandruff being so common is that it’s inspired the creation of a heap of hair products to control it. Look for shampoos and conditioners with chemicals such as zinc pyrithione, which kills the malassezia fungus, or selenium sulphide, which stops skin cells from reproducing so quickly. If one of these over-the-counter remedies doesn’t measure up to your expectations, try a different one. If they’re all duds, consult a dermatologist. She may recommend using a prescription-strength version of one of the over-the-counter remedies, or one containing a steroid.
An obvious first step in controlling perm-related dandruff is to skip your next perm appointment. If you don’t want to suffer through a perm growing out, try a chic short cut instead. You can always add extensions or a weave if you get bored with your short 'do. Also, wash your hair more often and ditch hair-styling products that aggravate dandruff such as hairsprays, gels and mousses. Finally, try to de-stress your daily life, as stress will only make dandruff worse.