Although I’ve seen people use everything from olive oil, baking soda, eggs and vinegar to control dandruff, the correct answer is pyrithione zinc.

A dry scalp is easily mistaken for dandruff, but their cause and treatment is completely different. A dry scalp is dry, unlike the oily scalp that is common to dandruff. Flakes from a dry scalp are smaller and less noticeable than the larger, greasy flakes associated with dandruff.

Dandruff is caused by the fungus malassezia that is present on all human skin, but only develops the symptoms of dandruff when it grows out of control. Malassezia feeds on sebum and produces fatty acids that irritate the scalp. Some people are far more susceptible to this irritation than others, which makes the symptoms worse.

The most common anti-fungal agents used in antidandruff shampoo are pyrithione zinc, selenium sulfide and ketoconazole. The safest and most effective of these is pyrithione zinc, which has been proven to suppress the growth of malassezia.

Old fashioned, medicated, coal tar products have cursed all antidandruff shampoo as harsh and damaging, when that no longer needs to be true. Antidandruff shampoos with pyrithione zinc are no different than any other shampoo and are available in a variety of formulas for different needs. Try different ones until you find one that you like. Brand doesn’t matter.

Although dandruff is not contagious, good hygiene is essential to its treatment. Frequent shampooing removes dead skin, oil and irritating fatty acids. Greasy flakes on the scalp are the perfect hiding place for malassezia. When combined with a build up of sebum, malassezia easily grows out of control and leaves behind free fatty acids that increase scalp irritation. A clean, dry scalp helps control dandruff.