Brush It Off – those embarrassing white flakes

Most everyone has endured those embarrassing white flakes on their shoulders. This time of year it could be snow or dandruff — a seasonal condition most common in cold weather. Warning signs of the white stuff include dry, itchy scalp, flaking, and red, irritated skin. You’re more prone to dandruff, according to MayoClinic.com, if:

  • You’re a male between young adult and middle age
  • You have excessive oily skin
  • You eat a poor diet
  • You have certain illnesses.

If you’re left scratching your head, try these suggestions…

  • Purchase over–the–counter dandruff shampoos: There are many to choose from at your local store or pharmacy.
  • Get a prescription: Don’t flake out if symptoms persist for several weeks; just visit a doctor. The condition is rarely serious (it’s not contagious) and is often easily treated. A dermatologist may determine your dandruff is being caused from another skin condition, such as seborrheic dermatitis.

Lip Service

Those chapped lips could be a sign of oral contact dermatitis — an allergy of the mouth. If you notice swelling inside or outside your kisser, discomfort on the tongue, or heightened redness you could be suffering from a response to any of these common items:

  • Dental products: Things you use to polish your pearly whites and give you fresh breath could sting when you pucker up. Many toothpastes, mouthwashes, and dental floss contain artificial colorings, flavorings, and ingredients like cinnamic aldehyde, which can cause irritation. Switch between different brands and flavors to offset reactions.
  • Cosmetics: Some lipsticks and lip balms contain dyes that may cause cheilitis, a severe inflammation of the lips. Patch test any new cosmetic under a bandaid on the outside of your forearm for 48 hours before applying it to your face or mouth. Products labeled hypoallergenic may be better, but there’s no guarantee — the FDA doesn’t regulate an industry–wide definition for the term.
  • Mother Nature: While a natural product may be free from chemicals, it can still irritate your skin — so don’t assume Mother Nature is always the best option when choosing toothpaste, creams, or even chewing gum. After all, every reaction is based on your body’s immune response to certain compounds, whether they grow out of the ground or are made in a lab.

Hairy Situation

While follicle flaws like graying or baldness simply slide down the family tree, others derive from external factors. In fact, your locks don’t just accentuate your look; they often reveal your health. But whether split ends stem from too many color treatments or a more serious issue, you’re right to tend to the condition of your tresses.

  • Loss: Shedding a few strands as you brush is no cause for alarm. Your head says goodbye to about 100 hairs a day. But some conditions can cause more extreme thinning. Thyroid dysfunctions, eating disorders, and iron or protein deficiencies can all shut down hair production. Eat enough protein (about 50 grams/day for women and 60 grams/day for men, depending on age and lifestyle), like eggs, fish, and whole grains that contain all essential amino acids.
  • Frizz: Too much blow–drying, styling, and ponytail–wearing can rough up your hair. But brittle bangs can also indicate a dietary shortfall in healthy fats, vitamin A, and selenium. Choose more foods like wild salmon, flax, spinach, and walnuts to help revitalize your strands… and dial back the use of hair products and devices.
  • Flakes: Even though dandruff can signal eczema or psoriasis, hormone imbalances, or immune disorders, some experts believe the overgrowth of a common skin flora triggers the rapid cell turnover that leads to flakes. Try washing with tree tea oil shampoo, which has antifungal and antiseptic qualities.