How to tell if it’s really dandruff you’ve got and how to control it
Dandruff is caused by excessive shedding of skin cells on the scalp. It is normal for skin on the scalp to die and flake off but when this flaking happens in excess, it is called dandruff. It is usually accompanied by irritation and itching of the scalp
Dandruff can be controlled quite easily with a variety of medicated shampoos notably Head and Shoulders and Selsun brands. Washing the hair every day or every week with these shampoos should leave your scalp and hair clean and give you the confidence to wear your favourite black top without any embarrassing flakes showing up!
However, many confuse this humble ailment with other causes of flakes on the scalp. Black women who use grease, pomades or hair dress on their scalps may suffer from build up of these products. Coupled with infrequent washes, it is quite easy to confuse the two. Dandruff-like residue can also be formed if shampoo or conditioner is not rinsed out properly as it hardens and flakes on the scalp.
It is easy to tell if you have genuine dandruff or just build up. Here’s what you need to do:
• Shampoo your hair with a regular shampoo making sure to massage and gently rub the scalp in circular motions. The first shampoo will not lather much as it is getting rid of some of the oils* and build up in the hair. Shampoo for a second time and lather in thoroughly concentrating on the scalp. Leave the shampoo lather in your hair for about 5 minutes before rinsing out thoroughly.
• Deep condition the hair as normal making sure to rinse it thoroughly.
• Mix ¼ cup apple cider vinegar* with about 3-4 cups of water and stream this through the hair. Work in with your fingers then rinse off thoroughly. Don’t worry, your hair will not smell of vinegar but it will get rid of any residue left behind by your shampoo or conditioner.
• Your hair and scalp will now been clarified. Style as usual.
Shampoo the hair normally again after a few days but no later than 1 week. In this time avoid applying anything directly to the scalp – the scalp does not require any grease or pomades. The sebaceous glands in scalp will provide all the oil the scalp needs.
If there are no flakes on the scalp a few days after the first wash then you were just suffering from build up. For the upkeep, avoid applying anything on your scalp and wash and deep condition the hair regularly. For black hair especially, this should be done 1-2 times per week to restore moisture balance to the hair. You may clarify as outlined above every 4-6 weeks to get rid of any build up or alternatively, invest in a good clarifying shampoo*.
If flakes start showing up on the scalp within a day or two of the wash then you may have genuine dandruff. Hot oil therapy is one of the best home treatments for dandruff. See the article on hot oil treatments . Alternatively, invest in a good anti-dandruff shampoo to control it and use it as per the instructions.