What is dandruff? Dandruff is dead skin cells that shed from our heads. For some people, dandruff could be a result of excessively dry skin, but for others, it can be the manifestation of a more serious, chronic skin condition.   

The Science Behind Dandruff

At the highbrow scientific level, we can say that dandruff is caused by sebum being broken down by lipases into a compound called oleic acid. This penetrates the top layers of skin triggering the scalp to be overpopulated with skin cells, which it sheds as soon as possible.  The lipases are produced by fungal yeast that suffers from a lack of fatty acids, called Malassezia GlobosaWhile the idea of fungal yeast with a name like a Star Wars villain on your scalp might be too much to process, there are much simpler ways of understanding the causes of dandruff. 

What is Dandruff

Dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis are conditions of the scalp that present with dead skin cells and often scaly or itchy skin. Seborrheic dermatitis is the more severe of the two, producing oily scales and leaving itchy, inflamed red skin. Seborrheic Dermatitis is a chronic inflammatory disease that often affects areas where sebum production is the highest, such as the scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes, behind the ears, etc

What Causes Dandruff?

By far, the most common source of dandruff is parched skin. This is especially true in the winter, when our poor skin suffers through instant environmental changes between freezing wind and superficial heat, our skin is simply begging for nutrients and nourishment. By shedding dandruff flakes, your scalp is really sending a cry for help. 

Characterized by flaky yellowy-white scales, occasional redness, and irritation, this condition is caused by the oil producers in our skin going into hyperdrive. The scales are a manifestation of the build-up of oil in the skin. Many professionals commonly associate seborrheic dermatitis with infants: you may know it as “cradle cap.”

Further causes of dandruff are deeper into the medical realm. At this level, dandruff is symptomatic of a larger scale disorder, and a doctor should be contacted for diagnosis and treatment. For example, skin disorders such as psoriasis and eczema can cause an over production of skin cells; naturally, the scalp tries to rid itself of the claustrophobic circumstances. While the exact cause of psoriasis is unknown, many researchers believe that an error in the immune system causes skin cell production to mistakenly speed up. 

Other medical causes of dandruff (or white flakes that strongly resemble dandruff) include ringworm, types of dermatitis, rosacea, acne, lupus, and other autoimmune disorders.  Don’t be shy about talking to your doctor if you experience chronic dandruff that even Denorex shampoo cannot remedy: it could be a serious medical condition. 


What are the signs of dandruff?

Dandruff is often accompanied by itching. Large clumps of dry, white scales of skin appear on the scalp, scattered throughout or sometimes contained in roundish patches of skin. Both females and males are affected by dandruff. It is often most prevalent during the years of puberty and the incidence decreases as people age. Almost everyone has dealt with dandruff at some point. People often have dry scalps during the winter, which results in flaky, dead skin cells. Dandruff flakes are usually of a more yellow hue and accompanied by itching. 

It is essential to reiterate that dandruff is primarily caused by easily changed lifestyle habits. Infrequent shampooing and poor hygiene are directly linked to a buildup of skin cells.  Furthermore, if you are sweating more than usual, or find that your skin and scalp are oily, you are probably more prone to dandruff. These circumstances are easily altered by showering every day, especially after the gym or any kind of sweaty exertion.  

Dandruff has many causes but having dandruff does not inherently mean that you are unclean, dehydrated, or actually sick. The appearance of dandruff on your shoulders should always warrant proactive solutions. 

Remember, dandruff itself is not contagious and usually does not require prescription strength remedies: it is a natural by-product of an overly diligent scalp. 


What to look for in Shampoo Ingredients

The most effective over-the-counter treatment options for dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis are shampoos that include the following ingredients: salicylic acid, coal tar, selenium sulfide and zinc pyrithione. We’ll focus specifically on salicylic acid, coal tar and zinc pyrithione. Salicylic acid (1.8%) removes dead skin cells and reduces scaling by increasing the hydration of skin. Coal tar (2.0%) is effective for both dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis; it reduces scaling, itching, inflammation and soothes irritation. Zinc pyrithione (1.0%) also effective for both conditions, helps reduce and eliminate scalp itching, flaking and scaling. 


9 out of 10 Dermatologists agree: Rotating Formulas is More Effective

People react differently to different ingredients, which is why we recommend that you switch up your dandruff shampoos throughout the week. The treatment may become ineffective after repeated use of one specific ingredient. We have your answer with Denorex. Denorex is a medicated, therapeutic, dandruff brand that dermatologists recommend. It has the highest levels of medicine of any major over-the-counter brand. By switching up Denorex Therapeutic (coal tar), Denorex Extra Strength (salicylic acid) and Zincon (pyrithione zinc), you will have faster dandruff relief. Zincon is one of our sister brands and extremely effective on itching and flaking associated with dandruff. 


Rotate your shampoos by following these steps for effective dandruff relief: 

  • Day 1: Use Denorex® Therapeutic 2 in 1
  • Day 2: Use Zincon shampoo
  • Day 3: Use Denorex® Extra Strength 2 in 1 
  • Day 4: Use Zincon Shampoo
  • Day 5: Use Denorex® Extra Strength 2 in 1 
  • Day 6: Use Zincon Shampoo
  • Day 7: Use Zincon Shampoo

For more information, check out our dandruff shampoo product pages. Click on the following links to learn more about our products and for information on how to purchase our kit:

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