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My dandruff is getting out of control. It’s ruining my clothes. It’s even affecting my mojo; my steady lady is repulsed by it. What gives, and what can I do about it?

My dandruff is getting out of control. It’s ruining my clothes. It’s even affecting my mojo; my steady lady is repulsed by it. What gives, and what can I do about it?


You’re not alone in this snowstorm; most people experience shoulder flakes at some point in their lives.

What is it? Dandruff is essentially a shedding of dead skin cells from the scalp. Symptoms can range from embarrassing flakes to the itching and inflammation of seborrheic dermatitis.

Why does it occur? A yeast-like fungus called malassezia furfur is part of the scalp’s natural flora. Skin secretions can change due to stress, hormonal shifts, poor nutrition or insufficient cleansing. That helps the fungus to flourish, causing the scalp to produce skin flakes faster. The results: Mild to severe snowstorms in your area.

How can I treat it? To end the whiteout, ignore the myth that dandruff is caused by a dry scalp and start shampooing every day. After all, you wash the rest of your skin every day, right? Clean that scalp daily and again after working up a sweat at the gym. Look for a hair cleanser with antifungal ingredients, such as coal tar, zinc pyrithione and/or ketoconazole. Wash, condition, and then use a scalp toner to soothe the skin.

There are products to suit every thickness of wallet, and each has ingredients to help fight flakes of different types -- just in varying amounts and quality.

Or, do the high-low combo:

If the first flake-fighters you choose irritate your scalp even further, then try a different type. And if, after about two months, the winter of your discontent shows no signs of letting up, ask your doc for something stronger … and tell your lady that help is on the way.


About the Expert

Elizabeth Cunnane-Phillips is a consultant at Philip Kingsley, a London- and New York City-based clinic of trichology (the study of the hair and scalp).


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