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Skin Care and Diseases

Dandruff & grey hair

05/09/2006

Question:

hello doctor, This query is for my husband.his hair is dry having dandruff,he used dandraff shampoo to reduce it,it reduced but the hair started greying in more quatity.his age is 29 years.please guide me to take care of his hair and what to use for grey hairs as he is not in favour of using dye fearing it may incrase the dandruff.what is the difference between hair dye & hair colouring?will these agrevate dandruff? Please suggest how to take care of my hubby hairs. thanks in advance.

Answer:

The scaling of your husband's scalp is called seborrheic dermatitis by dermatologists and dandruff by everybody else.  It is frequently associated with yeast, which certainly seems to make the healing process worse.  My recommendation to you is to use some of the over-the-counter preparations that are aimed at dandruff.  We frequently use Nizoral shampoo 1% and recommend that it be used at least three times a week; initially I would use it daily.  Let your husband rub it into his scalp, leave it for about 30 minutes and then shampoo using a dandruff brush which you can obtain from most drug stores.  This should improve the scaling, but as you have already noticed it will wax and wane.  After several weeks of daily shampooing, two to three times a week usually maintains the scalp in good condition.  It needs to be continued on an indefinite basis. 

There are other shampoos that do help and they contain heavy metals (selenium) and zinc pyrithione.  These inhibit cells from growing rapidly and may be very helpful in controlling dandruff.  If the above mentioned medications are not effective, you should see a board certified dermatologist who can give you prescription medications that go far beyond the over-the-counter products.

Usually seborrheic dermatitis does not result in the loss of pigment of the hair.  That is very likely a genetically determined disorder in your husband's case.  Check his relatives, both male and female, for early greying. 

There are vegetable dyes which  rinse out with each shampoo and that is probably what you are referring to when you talk about coloring.  They are "vegetable dyes".  They are nonirritating and they are quite safe.  The permanent hair dyes can cause contact dermatitis with itching, scratching, and even blister formation; but that too is very rare.  Both are generally considered safe cosmetic practices.  To my knowledge the dyes and dandruff do not predispose to hair color changes.  If you have further questions you probably should see your board certified dermatologist who can evaluate your husband's scaling and hair color changes more accurately to be sure he doesn't have other disorders such as vitiligo.

Thank you for your questions.

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Response by:

Charles L Heaton, MD
Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati