Everyone sheds 50 to 100 strands every day, but if you’re noticing more strands in your shower drain or comb, you’re likely going through some form of hair loss. If you consult a dermatologist about what you’re experiencing, you may find yourself using minoxidil to encourage hair growth in problem areas.
Minoxidil is highly effective for preventing hair loss, but many people believe that it can cause dandruff — a cosmetic disease that is as embarrassing as it is annoying.
But does minoxidil really make you more prone to flaking skin? Let’s explore.
The Link Between Minoxidil and Dandruff
Minoxidil is an FDA-approved topical medication used to treat thinning hair in male and female pattern baldness. It works by dilating your blood vessels to increase blood flow to the scalp and comes in different concentrations and forms, such as gel or foam.
For many, it's a godsend. But, like all good things, it has its fair share of downsides however mild they may be.
If you’re using minoxidil or are about to, you should know that the medication can give you a dry, itchy scalp with flakes within weeks of starting treatment.
How does it do that?
Well, minoxidil can contain ingredients like alcohol. When you apply it to your scalp, the alcohol evaporates, leaving the remaining ingredients. This does more than just dry out the skin, it can also lead to dandruff after continuous use.
Dandruff isn’t serious or contagious, but it can cause itchiness and inflammation of the scalp when left untreated.
Scratching your scalp aggressively may pull on your hair and cause temporary shedding. It can also damage the skin, cause bleeding, and increase your risk of developing infections. It can even cause hair loss — the very thing you were aiming to treat with minoxidil.
It sounds quite serious, but don’t worry. Minoxidil is also associated with extending anagen, the growth phase of your hair. So, while it can cause hair loss, the condition is temporary and will improve with time. With the right dosage and consistent application, you should see new hair growth in about eight weeks.
Treatment for Dandruff Caused by Minoxidil
As with every hair fall concern, the treatment will depend on the extent of your hair loss.
Most cases of dandruff can be solved by washing your hair regularly and/or adding anti-dandruff shampoos into your hair care regimen. Medicated shampoos are easily available in supermarkets and stores, and you can even get them shipped to your home from an online retailer.
Keep in mind that some shampoos have better formulations than others. So, make sure the product you choose contains active agents like:
- Ketoconazole - an antifungal drug used to treat fungal infections and certain kinds of dandruff. It is available in cream, pills, and shampoo forms and is easy to apply.
- Pyrithione zinc - this combination offers antifungal and antibacterial properties to treat itchy, flaky scalp. It can also inhibit yeast overgrowth and lead to seborrhoeic dermatitis, another cause of dandruff.
- Salicylic acid - an organic, chemical compound that removes excessive scaly skin build-up from the scalp while minimizing scalp irritation and inflammation. It can improve the health of your scalp, paving the way for healthier, flake-free hair.
- Selenium sulfide - an antifungal agent that relieves itching, minimizes flaking, and removes dandruff from the scalp, all while delaying the death of skin cells.
- Coal tar - an antibiotic and antifungal ingredient that treats dandruff by removing dead cells from the top layer of the skin. However, it can make your scalp more sensitive to sunlight and interfere with the vibrance of color-treated hair, so keep that in mind.
If regular use of anti-dandruff products does little to help the health of your scalp, see a dermatologist. They will check your scalp to give you an accurate diagnosis and an effective treatment plan that best meets your unique hair needs.
If you’re using a higher concentration of minoxidil, consider a less powerful dose to minimize its side effects. You can also switch to another hair loss prevention medication like finasteride which may give you more benefits and zero to minimal side effects.
Finally, pair your mane-growing efforts with a balanced diet. It may prove helpful in reducing the severity of dandruff or seborrheic dermatitis.
Hair loss and dandruff combined can be a bummer, but it's not the end of the world. You can still get back on track with proper treatment and hair care. You should also consider getting some sun to reduce yeast production on your scalp and think about cutting back on styling products as they can cause buildup which can worsen dandruff.
Follow the medications suggested by your dermatologist and let them know if you start experiencing side effects like dandruff. If you keep them updated on your progress, they can modify and provide you with better medical care. Before you know it, you’ll be on your way to healthy hair growth.