Smiling woman touching her dark hair.

A flaky scalp is not a contagious or severe condition, but you will probably agree it’s not glamorous. One of the quickest and most accessible remedies is an anti-dandruff shampoo, which is not always as effective as you want. It can be, well, flaky. Before you pick up the first shampoo that catches your eye, learn more about what your hair needs and the unintended mistakes you might be making when dealing with dandruff.

How Anti-Dandruff Shampoo Works

Since have various triggers – dermatitis, dry or oily scalp, and Malassezia yeast –your choice of shampoo can make or break your recovery. The main difference between regular and medicated shampoo for dandruff lies in the ingredients. Anti-dandruff shampoos contain active ingredients like pyrithione zinc, selenium sulfide, and ketoconazole. Here’s how they work:

  • Pyrithione zinc is a broad-spectrum antimicrobial that inhibits the growth of Malassezia and bacteria. It’s also more tolerated on sensitive scalps as it can help improve the skin barrier. If you have an oily scalp, you may use pyrithione zinc shampoo every day.
  • Selenium sulfide is a more potent alternative for targeting Malassezia, which makes it too irritating for daily use. It kills scalp fungus and reduces dead skin shedding, rendering it effective for those with seborrheic dermatitis. 
  • Ketoconazole is a heavy-duty antifungal medication that eliminates fungi and yeast by rupturing their cell membranes. finds it significantly promotes hair growth, too. While you can find this ingredient in OTC shampoos, you should only use it with a doctor’s prescription due to its such as serious allergic reactions.

Reasons Why You Still Have Flaky Scalp

Not seeing results from your anti-dandruff shampoo can be frustrating. If your scalp is still flaky and itchy even after switching products, it’s time to consider other factors that may be contributing to your scalp issues.

1. You give up on your anti-dandruff shampoo too soon.

Dandruff treatments can take weeks, even months, to work, so be patient. It’s crucial to keep using your dandruff shampoo at least twice a week as long as symptoms persist. Otherwise, the inflammation will keep coming back. 

You can alternate it with a moisturizing shampoo to – but why have two different shampoos when you can have one that does both? Dove Dermacare Scalp Soothing Moisture Shampoo and Dove Dermacare Scalp Soothing Moisture Conditioner are the combo you need to achieve a flake-free scalp and shiny, smooth hair. Both contain pyrithione zinc to relieve irritation. They also come in a pH-balanced formula that’s gentle on your scalp and hair cuticles.

2. You don’t massage the scalp.

It’s recommended to with your fingertips to loosen flakes and help the active ingredients in your shampoo penetrate the skin. Do this for five minutes and try to cover every part of the scalp, especially the back and behind the ears. Next, rinse your hair thoroughly with or cold water until no suds remain and your hair doesn’t feel slimy.

3. You’re using too many products.

Telling dandruff and scalp build-up apart can be tricky since both can manifest as flakes. It’s possible that what you thought was dandruff is residue from hairspray, gel, wax, or pomade. The white specks you see are congealed remnants of haircare products, dead skin cells, lint, sweat, and oil.

Washing your hair with a sulfate-free shampoo can help get rid of the build-up and soothe irritation. More importantly, use styling products sparingly so you won’t have to deal with a crusty scalp.

4. Your hair is wet for too long.

A damp scalp is a five-star hotel for fungi like Malassezia, which thrive and breed in warm, moist environments. Even when your anti-dandruff shampoo manages to evict pre-existing yeast, another batch checks in and perpetuates the cycle. When you sleep on wet hair, your scalp is also susceptible to breakouts, which aggravates your symptoms.

Do your hair wash routine in the morning, or dry your hair with a low-setting blow dryer before hitting the hay. In addition, stop in a towel since this also traps excess moisture on the scalp.

5. You can’t resist picking on your scalp.

As satisfying as it is to pick on your flakes, any scratching or scraping only injures the skin. When this happens, bacteria can enter the open wounds and cause further infection. Think of all the gunk on your fingernails and hairbrush!

Moreover, picking on your scalp damages the follicles and leads to , so do your best to resist. These scales fall off on their own, so there’s no need to remove them before washing your hair. When your scalp feels itchy, apply a cold compress for a few seconds for instant relief.

Don’t give up on anti-dandruff shampoo! Keep using it diligently until your scalp condition improves. Want more tips on how to keep dandruff at bay? Practice these !