Dandruff can be an embarrassment aside from being a painful condition for some. Dealing with dandruff during pregnancy can prove to be an added problem. Finding the causes behind the condition and remedies to address it are the keys to managing dandruff during pregnancy.
Is It Normal to Get Dandruff During Pregnancy?
Dandruff is a scalp-related problem which results in flaking and itchiness. Though this may not be a result of improper hygiene, most people tend to think so. The process of dead skin cells shedding to make way for newer cells is a natural one and happens throughout our lifetime. It is only when the process is faster that the scalp gets covered with flakes, which is what we know as dandruff. Doctors often face this question from their pregnant patients – can pregnancy cause dandruff? The answer is simple. Getting dandruff during pregnancy is quite common and you are not the only one to suffer from it. If you did not have this problem earlier, it is your fluctuating hormones that could be a major factor during this time.
What Causes Dandruff During Pregnancy?
Dandruff is caused when there is excessive growth of skin cells. This could happen due to many reasons, some of which may not be connected to your current pregnant state. Often, it is the hormonal changes that are responsible for this. Let us discuss this in detail:
1. Higher Oil Production
During pregnancy, hormonal changes impact your skin in more ways than one. During these months, your skin will produce more oil, which in turn will lead to the production of newer cells at a higher rate. This is responsible for a speedy build-up of dead skin cells, due to which the scalp gets covered with flakes.
2. Increased Sensitivity to Shampoos, Oils and Conditioners
Major contributors to the appearance of dandruff during pregnancy are hair care products like hair oils, shampoos and conditioners. During pregnancy, your body is ultra-sensitive to chemicals and additives and the uncharacteristic flaking of skin cells is merely a result of a protective response from your skin. Although your skin is used to these products and you haven’t changed the brand during pregnancy, it is merely the way your scalp has reacted in a different way that has led to flaking.
3. An Overreaction From the Body
Our skin is home to various microorganisms – it is only during pregnancy that the body becomes sensitive and sees these bacteria as aliens. It tries to keep the body free from these microorganisms which result in itching or flakes on the scalp.
It is also said that decreased bowel functioning during pregnancy can push the skin to work harder to relieve toxins; this can cause a flaky scalp. The itching, on the other hand, is associated with stress or a lack of good nutrients in the diet.
Medicinal Treatment for Pregnancy Dandruff
It is possible to control the outbreak of dandruff during pregnancy, but you may have to endure a few trial-and-error methods before you find the right solution. Apart from the various medicines that your doctor may prescribe if required, shampoos often work when it is a case of mild dandruff. However, since medications can have side effects on the user, it is best to ask your doctor instead of self-medicating. There are a variety of topical creams, gels and sprays available that can provide relief from this irritating condition. They should be taken under medical supervision only, and strict attention should be paid to the dosage and the duration of treatment.
Is It Safe to Use Medicated Dandruff Shampoos?
If regular shampoos are ineffective in treating your condition, dandruff shampoos that are available at medical stores should be a good alternative. Remember that all dandruff shampoos are different and a little bit of experimentation will be needed before you arrive at one that suits you. In case of any kind of irritation like itching, burning or stinging, or redness, stop its use and speak to your doctor about it.
1. Ketoconazole Shampoos
Ketoconazole is an anti-fungal agent that works when other shampoos prove to be ineffective. It can be purchased over-the-counter, but you can ask your doctor to write a prescription.
2. Pyrithione Zinc Shampoos
Shampoos that contain zinc pyrithione have anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. This shampoo can decrease the fungus on your scalp that causes dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis.
3. Selenium Sulfide Shampoos
These shampoos slow down the process of the skin cells dying. They can fade chemically coloured hair, so use them only as directed. Also, make sure you rinse the hair well after shampooing.
4. Tar-Based Shampoos
These shampoos slow down the process of skin cells dying on your scalp and flaking off. Coal tar is a by-product of coal manufacturing which is useful for conditions like dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis, and psoriasis.
How to Treat Dandruff Naturally During Pregnancy
The following time-tested remedies have proved to be life-savers as far as dandruff and flakes during pregnancy are concerned. Try and find out their effectiveness for yourself.
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
Used as a purifying scalp treatment for those suffering from dandruff, apple cider vinegar is rapidly rising up the popularity charts as a scalp cleanser. It has amazing anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that keep the scalp clean by removing the dandruff-causing fungus. You can mix apple cider vinegar with double the quantity of water and apply it on the scalp overnight. Wash it clean in the morning for best results.
2. Aloe Vera
Your dandruff problem during pregnancy can be easily addressed by aloe vera. Its natural anti-fungal properties help remove the yeast and fungus that cause dandruff on the scalp. It is soothing to the scalp and moisturises it, thus removing dead cells on the skin. Aloe vera is packed with a number of cleansing enzymes that are powerful enough to remove dandruff and dead skin cells from the scalp. It can be used as a standalone natural medicine or along with any other natural remedy to eliminate the irritating flakes. Pure aloe vera can be massaged directly onto the scalp for the best results.
3. Garlic and Argan Oil
Garlic helps improve blood flow to the scalp and removes dust, grime and other impurities that get accumulated in the hair. It can be rubbed directly on the scalp. Soak some finely-chopped garlic in argan oil and store it in a container. The oil helps the goodness of garlic to reach your hair and its roots to act effectively.
4. Coconut Oil
This is the most widely used and the safest method for pregnant women to arrest dandruff. Its dandruff-fighting abilities are well-known and since it does not contain any harmful chemicals, it can be safely used without a worry. You can warm some coconut oil and apply it on the scalp with a cotton ball and wash it after an hour of application.
5. Sea Salt
Add 2-3 tablespoons of pure sea salt to an oil-infused shampoo and gently exfoliate the scalp. Use a conditioner after exfoliation. This treatment will help in treating dry skin, which is the cause of dandruff.
Tips to Prevent Dandruff While Pregnant
Since prevention is better than cure, how about taking adequate steps to prevent dandruff in the first place and avoiding the hassles of treating it later? Here are a few useful tips to ensure your pregnancy is dandruff-free:
Pregnancy is a difficult time and can give rise to stress. Your skin condition could be a result of various forms of stress and hence, managing it is the key to stay dandruff-free during this period.
The inclusion of vitamin B and zinc is absolutely necessary since this not only helps in regenerating skin cells but also boosts your immunity and maintains metabolic activity in the body. Include bananas, egg yolk, mushrooms and cauliflower in your diet to benefit from their goodness.
Care for Hair
Use a recommended anti-dandruff shampoo to keep your hair and scalp clean. Wash your hair after you have travelled outside, and allow the shampoo to soak in your hair before you wash it with water. Make sure you dry your hair properly after the wash, as moisture can lead to other forms of skin irritation too.
Haircare forms an important part of our grooming and is absolutely essential during pregnancy. Keeping the scalp and hair clean, maintaining the right diet and keeping stress levels at a minimum can prove to be helpful in treating dandruff.
Resources and References: Livestrong