By Dr. Kaycee Reyes
Guys, listen. Girls, tell them. Let’s have some beard talk. Beards are great! Some find them attractive, it looks macho, and they definitely do not go out of style. To grow and maintain a beard is not easy. In fact, beard dandruff, however, is common and this can easily ruin your beard game. But why do some men have beard dandruff? How does it develop and how long will it last? Before the beard situation grows out of hand, ladies and gentlemen, read on.
Beard dandruff, also called seborrheic dermatitis or flaking skin, is a common inflammatory skin condition that is caused by one or a combination of factors such as dry skin, product irritation, an existing skin condition, diet, or a type of yeast called pityrosporum ovale that makes the skin red, cracked, and flaky. And because every skin is different, the treatments may vary as well. The most drastic and fastest way to treat beard dandruff is by shaving it all off, especially if the cause is a yeast infection. This yeast can thrive on the beard because the hair can hide it from the sun that is supposed to stop the yeast to grow, but for some who do not want to shave, here are other solutions you can try to get rid of those stubborn flakes:
Beard oil. If your skin is super dry, this might be the solution. Beard oil can keep your hair soft, moisturized, and hydrated in every use (especially Jojoba oil). Apply two to three times per day. This should keep mild dandruff off. If dandruff persists or flaking still occurs, beard oil is not for you.
Exfoliate and moisturize. Some types of skin shed faster than others, but either way, you must know how to moisturize and exfoliate properly. Use a soft cloth or konjac sponge to gently rub the skin. The key here is to be gentle. Rubbing too hard may cause more irritation. Then follow it up with applying unscented hypoallergenic moisturizer on the skin; others may opt to use beard oil for this.
Beard shampoo. Unlike ordinary shampoo that may be too drying or irritating to facial skin, companies have come up with beard shampoo that is usually milder than ordinary ones yet more hydrating for the skin. Again, this may be too mild for others and may also not work for everyone.
Baby shampoo. Some may find it effective, but like beard shampoo, it may be too mild especially for those with moderate to heavy flakes.
Anti-dandruff shampoo/Prescription shampoo. If the cause of beard dandruff is seborrheic dermatitis, the dermatologist may prescribe this to you. Use shampoo containing ketoconazole, coal tar, or selenium sulfide to beard area and let it stay for at least five minutes. Do this at least twice a week. This is not for use every day as it is very strong for the skin.
- Use anti-inflammatory steroid based creams for not more than two weeks.
- Use miconazole/clotrimazole creams to the affected area twice a day for seven days only.
- Use hyaluronic acid gel to hydrate the area at least twice a day.
- If severe, take oral antifungals for at least two weeks or shave your beard.
Aside from these treatments, the dermatologist may also advise you to avoid using soap and to only wash with cold water. Soap and hot water can lead to dry skin. You may also be advised to check on your diet as well. Drinking water throughout the day will keep your skin hydrated, too. Food may also be the culprit, as some may lead to breakouts and yes, dry skin that can lead to flakes.
Common misconceptions about beard dandruff:
- a) It’s contagious. The reason for beard dandruff is the imbalance of the normal skin flora (proliferation of the malassezia species or yeast), triggered by genetics, environmental (stress, abrupt change in temperature, harsh shampoo, conditioner, or skincare products), and hormonal factors (more common in men since men produce more androgen, which is responsible for sebaceous glands hypersecretion.)
- b) It’s because of dry skin. It’s not the sole reason, but dry skin can aggravate flaking by producing more oils and flakes.
- c) If treated, it won’t happen again. It can happen again especially if there are changes in the environmental factors.
- d) It can easily be treated. It will take time around four to eight weeks to see significant reduction of flaking.
Those who grow beards know that it is a form of self-expression. But aside from looking cool, masculine, and confident, having a beard may have its benefits, too! Beards block UV rays, yes, 95 percent of it! And because it blocks the sun, wrinkles are avoided as well. Moreover, it can avoid shaving-induced irritation and also keeps acne from spreading. Overall, your beard can protect the skin beneath it from other bacteria and infections. If you are suffering from beard dandruff, ask your doctor today about any of the solutions above before trying them out.