There’s nothing more embarrassing than when somebody points out those tiny white flakes on my shoulder, so I work to get rid of them the minute I start scratching my irritated head.
Besides, if I am always scratching my head, people may think I am more confused than normal!
The good news: I can head off and cure dandruff with medicated products. I want review my favorite dandruff shampoos.
First, though, we need to know what dandruff is.
What is dandruff?
Dandruff is a problem with your scalp. It is dead skin being shed from your scalp; the dead skin is the white flakes.
You will be scratching your head and the flakes will be visible in your hair or fall onto your shoulders.
It tends to be chronic, is NOT contagious, and affects men and women, from teens to adults.
Most of the time I can use a good dandruff shampoo and it will clear up.
If a medicated dandruff shampoo does not work or your skin is red, you should contact a dermatologist. You might have other issues — like something called seborrheic dermatitis. That sounds nasty, I know, but it is scaly, flaky, itchy, and red skin.
Nizoral anti dandruff shampoo
To me, Nizoral is the best dandruff shampoo — hands down.
Nizoral comes in two formats: An over the counter or prescription forumula. The difference is the percentage of the active ingredient, ketoconazole.
Ketoconazole, which is an antifungal agent, comes in a 1 percent version over the counter. That’s the one I’ve used.
The benefits of this shampoo are that it is relativly mild, which means I can use it frequently. Nizoral recommends 3-5 times a week.
It does not have a strong odor — just very lightly scented.
It soaks into the scalp nicely when lathering and keeps my hair looking like it should — hair texture and quality are not affected.
Best of all, it works. It cleared up my itchy scalp after about 2 weeks. I use it one week to keep my scratching and itching under control.
The downside of this product is cost. Dandruff is chronic, which means one bottle won’t last for life.
Cost is about $25.
Selsun Blue uses a different active ingredient than Nizoral. In Selsun Blue, it is selenium sulfide, which is an anti-infective and slows down the death of skin cells.
Despite the medical jargon, it does not seem to be as mild as other shampoos. I thought it left my hair slightly stiff, but it does have a more shampoo-like quality compared to coal tar products.
An important point is that the Selsun Blue smells like a medicine cabinet, I think.
Does it work? It did help my itchy scalp and did get rid of that layer of dead skin cells, which caused flaking after about 3 weeks.
One thing to keep in mind with this product is that it can discolor hair, especially if Is is blond or gray or not natural — i.e., colored.
Price is about $12.
Neutrogena T-Gel (coal tar)
Neutrogena T-Gel has coal tar as an active ingredient and is a product from the process of coal manufacturing.
I think it is really harsh. When I pour it onto my hand, I find that it’s brown and smells funky.
I did notice that it causes my scalp to be dry; my hair felt tough and rough.
However, it did seem to get rid of flakiness and itchiness after about a week. There’s good and bad with everything. The cost — at about $8 on Amazon — is not as pricey as the Selsun Blue or Nizoral.