How to Treat Dandruff

Cynthia Bailey, MD|March 6, 2012

Healthy SkinAs a dermatologist, I see a lot of patients with dandruff. Based on this experience, I have compiled a list of tricks to help you control it. If you have what looks like dry skin on your scalp, around your nose and eyebrows, and even on your chest or upper back, it may be dandruff. Moisturizers won’t get rid of the scale if your dryness is due to dandruff.  This is because dandruff is actually a rash that masquerades as dry skin.  There are 2 key points that you need to understand if you have dandruff:

  1. You need medicated shampoos and soaps to treat your dandruff.
  2. You can also use products that soothe the inflammation that causes the redness, flakes and itching so your skin can heal.

I’ve treated dandruff in thousands of people who have every combination of the different skin types. Plus, I have it myself (nothing like a dermatologist with a little personal motivation to figure out all the treatment tricks!).  Here are what I believe to be the best treatments to help us control our dandruff.

Dermatologist’s Complete Guide to Product Recommendations for Dandruff

Treatment for Dry Scalp Dandruff My complete post for general scalp dandruff treatment is Remedies for the Dry Itchy Scalp of Seborrheic Dermatitis. As noted in that post, my two favorite tricks are my OTB Cleanser #2, which is a powerful medicated scalp shampoo (as well as one of my go-to solutions for back dandruff and back acne), and a really great scalp scrubber. Click here for more information on OTB Medicated Cleanser #2. dermatologist recommended dandruff shampoo Click here to see my favorite scalp scrubber. (As a person prone to dandruff, I love this thing!) a really great scalp scrubber When these general measures don't fix a stubborn case of scalp dandruff, I've got even bigger ideas to tell that dandruff "who's the boss."  To get this step-up program of treatment, read my post Remedies for Really Stubborn Scalp Seborrheic Dermatitis. The Best Treatment for Facial Dandruff I depend on my Facial Redness Relief Kit to keep my pesky facial dandruff under control. In fact, I created it for myself, and to simplify treatment for my patients.  The kit includes my Calming Zinc ® soap that's medicated with a full 2% pyrithione zinc (the maximum amount allowed) to treat dandruff. It also includes the miraculous Replenix CF Cream or Green Tea Antioxidant Skin Therapy - Replenix Power of Three Cream, my go-to lullaby to calm facial inflammation from seborrhea (dandruff).

Click here for more information on my Redness Relief Kits.

To see more of my skin care tips for facial seborrheic dermatitis read my post Dr. Cynthia Bailey's Tips for Facial Seborrheic Dermatitis Control.

Dandruff of the Ears

Dandruff of the ears can be both annoyingly itchy and embarrassing.   I have 2 posts discussing treatment of this really frustrating problem:

Itchy, Crusty, Scaly Ears; More on Seborrheic Dermatitis

Dandruff in the Ear Canal; How to Treat an Itch That Can't Be Scratched

Again, for ear dandruff, my favorite go-to product is OTB Cleanser #2!

Dandruff of the Eyelash Line

Dandruff on the lash line can cause a buildup of crusty scale, itching, slight redness and swelling. It is super annoying, but there are things you can do to help quiet it.  Read my post Dermatologist's Tips For Dandruff of The Eyelash Line (aka seborrheic blepharitis).

Back and Chest Dandruff

That slightly scaly red skin and itchiness on your chest and upper back probably isn't dry skin. You may have dandruff! Dandruff loves the back and chest and, again, my favorite go-to products for this part of your skin are either OTB Medicated Body Cleanser #2 or Calming Zinc Soap. Apply them with either the Body Buf Puf Sponge with Handle. Better yet, use the Clarisonic Plus Sonic Skin Cleansing System and extension handle to really hum that medicated cleanser right down into your pores where that pesky pityrosporum yeast (that drives dandruff) lives.

Click these links to see the amazing Clarisonic Plus Sonic Skin Cleansing System and its companion extension handle.

clarisonic plus sonic skin cleansing system

Photo: Thanks and Gratitude to tommerton2010