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What is Dandruff?

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Dandruff is a common chronic scalp condition marked by flaking of the skin on your scalp. Although dandruff isn’t contagious and is rarely serious, it can be embarrassing and sometimes difficult to treat.” Dandruff begins with what is known as sebum, a natural oil produced by the hair follicles and oil glands on your body. Sebum is found on every part of your skin with the exception of the palms of your hands and soles of your feet. When you have just the right amount of this oily substance it helps protect your hair and skin, but too little of it can cause dry, cracked skin and too much can produce acne or, that’s right, dandruff. Sebum is often a breeding ground for fungus or yeast, such as malassezia. Malassezia (also known as malassezia globossa) typically lives on the scalp of most healthy adults without causing any problems, so you can breath a sigh of relief if you nearly had a heart attack learning you may have fungus growing on your luscious locks. Malassezia has evolved to feed off of sebum and some experts believe that the immune system of someone with dandruff may simply overreact to this fungus. Malassezia itself also produces an oil that generates an inflammatory response in some people, which leads to skin cells dying at a much slower rate than the new cells are being produced, resulting in more skin being shed and subsequently dandruff. Some experts believe that people with dandruff have skins cells that mature and are shed in just 4-10 days whereas it takes approximately one month for people without dandruff to shed their skin cells. Just remember, you are not alone in this. Nearly half of the post-puberty population in the United States is affected by dandruff and gender, race, ethnicity, or age has nothing to do with it.

There is not simply one universal cause of dandruff, rather many different conditions which can contribute to this nuisance. Only a dermatologist can truly determine what is causing your particular case of dandruff, so if the basic treatment options we have suggested are just not working for you then it may be time to schedule an appointment with your skin doctor. However, before running up your doctor bill check out some of the most common causes of dandruff below. Chances are you will recognize which one the four main culprits may be behind your dandruff which will be better arm you to attack and rid yourself of this pest for good.

  • Seborrheic Dermatitis: One of the most common causes of dandruff is known as seborrheic dermatitis, or seborrhea. Seborrheic dermatitis is a common skin disorder that chiefly impacts your scalp, causing scaly, itchy, and red skin. It can also be seen on your face, upper chest, back, and other areas that are rich in oil glands. In infants, seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp is known as cradle cap. Seasonal changes, stress, and immune-suppression appear to affect the severity of seborrheic dermatitis.
  • Dry Skin: Dry skin is another extremely common, if not THE most common, contributor to dandruff. If you tend to have dry skin on other areas of your body, such as your arms or legs, then chances are this is the reason behind your troubles. These flakes tend to be white in color and fall off in smaller pieces than dandruff stemming from other causes.
  • Malessezia: Just as we mentioned above, malessezia is a yeast-like fungus that lives on the scalp of most healthy adult and yet only causes dandruff in some. Skin cells become aggravated and shed approximately four times faster than they normal should. Experts agree that certain environmental factors can make dandruff worse, particularly in dry climates.
  • Hair Care: Not brushing or shampooing your hair frequently enough may also cause dandruff in some people. On the flip side, if you shampoo too often or use too many hair care products you may cause irritation on your scalp and subsequently dandruff. Sensitivity to certain product ingredients may also cause you to have a red, itchy scalp known as contact dermatitis.
  • Certain Skin Conditions: Those with skin conditions, such as psoriasis (a chronic autoimmune disease that mainly affects the skin and is marked by a speedy buildup of coarse, dry, dead skin cells that form thick scales) and eczema (a chronic, inflammatory skin condition where the skin becomes itchy, reddened, cracked, and dry), tend to get dandruff more often than others.
How to Treat Pet Dandruff

Best Ways to Treat Pet Dandruff

How to Treat Pet Dandruff

Does Your Pet Have Dandruff?

You read it correctly: Pet dandruff. Our loveable companions are just as susceptible as we are to those pesky, white flakes. Animals such as rodents, birds, dogs, cats, and other fury creatures are all susceptible to dandruff. The dead, dried-out skin cells that rest on your pet are typically the result of some type of allergic dermatitis, which when simply put means they are reacting to something that makes their skin dry, itchy, or scaly. Now, make sure you take a careful look so you don’t confuse dandruff with your pet’s normal shedding of dead skin cells, known as pet dander. It is interesting to note that it is pet dander’s microscopic flecks of skin that is shed by cats, dogs, and other furry animals that trigger allergies in humans, not the pet hair itself.

Now obviously your pet could care less about whether or not others see them with dandruff specks covering their beautiful coats. However, if left untreated dandruff may cause such discomfort for your pet that they scratch their skin raw, leaving them susceptible to the risk of infection. By scratching the surface of their skin your pet is destroying the natural defense that their skin provides. Scratching can break through all of the major layers of your pets skin, allowing the bacteria that normally rests on the top layer of skin to get underneath. This is what can lead to an infection or cause more itching, creating a never-ending vicious cycle. If you examine your pet’s coat for thinning or balding patches you can get a good indicator that dandruff may be to blame.

Top 5 Ways to Prevent and Treat Pet Dandruff

  • Hydration In addition to dehydration, pets who do not drink enough water also tend to suffer from dry skin. On average, human beings are typically 60% water while dogs and cats are anywhere from 70% to 80% water. Clearly it is very important that both humans and pets drink plenty of water everyday to stay healthy and hydrated. Animals who are constantly lacking water are more prone to kidney diseases and a vareity of other illnesses. If your pet is not drinking enough water on their own, try adding some water to their food or making sure they are getting plenty of fresh water throughout the day.
  1. Diet You are what you eat has never been a more truer statement than it is with your pet. Pets need a certain amount of fat in their diet to maintain their supple skin and their shiny fur. Switching to a higher quality, holistic pet food with more Omega-3 or Omega-6 fatty acids may be just what the doctor ordered.
  1. Oils Adding a fatty acid supplement to your pet’s diet, such as Kirkland Signature Omega-3 Fish Oil Concentrate or Omega 3,6,9 for Dogs and Cats, will help prevent dandruff in the first place. These Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids supplements will also help lubricate your pet’s joints, allowing them to move more easily.
  1. Moisturizers There are a number of moisturizing sprays and creams that can be applied to your pet’s skin after a good bath or combing. Combing is preferred over simply brushing because it will remove more of the dead fur that is just sitting on your pet’s skin. This will aide the air in reaching your pet’s skin and makes for a healthier coat. Combing also helps distribute your pet’s natural oils and message the skin. Moisturizing sprays and creams, such as Vet Best Moisture Mist Conditioner for Dogs and Colloidal Silver for Pets – Soothing Antifungal – Antibacterial Gel for a Wide Range of Skin Conditions, will help moisten their coat and can alleviate them from their dry, itchy skin.
  1. Dandruff Shampoos Once you have determined that dandruff is indeed the root of your pet’s discomfort, one of the best things you can do is to give your pet a bath with a medicated shampoo or conditioner. Shampoos that contain aloe or oatmeal are especially helpful, or there are even pet specific dandruff shampoos out there as well. We recommend SyngergyLabs VF Clinical Care Antiparasitic, Antiseborrheic Medicated Shampoo, DVM Pharmaceuticals Malaseb Pet Shampoo, or Earthbath All Natural Shampoo. And remember, the regular bathing of your pet can be most helpful in keeping their dandruff under control.

There you have it. Treating dandruff, or better yet preventing it in the first place, will help keep your pet at their happiest and healthiest.