About all

Dandruff shampoo for vitiligo: Why I Said ‘Goodbye’ to Treatments as a Girl with Vitiligo

Why I Said ‘Goodbye’ to Treatments as a Girl with Vitiligo


Shawna Simmons Photography

Zoila Holt

Zoila Holt is a lifestyle blogger, student and YouTube junkie…

I remember the day like it was yesterday. I was a little girl with vitiligo, standing in the bathroom in my pink panties, covered in wet blue shampoo from head to toe. Once my mom gave me the okay, I would run around the house to help dry the shampoo on my body. I had so much fun running around all blue – I thought it was hilarious. The “blue” was Selsun Blue, a dandruff shampoo that our family doctor thought would help heal my vitiligo. Little did I know, it was just the start of years of treatments.

Treating My Skin as a Girl with Vitiligo

I started light therapy and cream treatments as a teenager. The light therapy would, in a good way, burn my white patches like a sunburn and they would turn pink. Pink meant life in my skin, which meant pigmentation would return. It was good news for my skin, but it hurt just like a regular sunburn and I felt ugly looking in the mirror and seeing my burnt body. Brown and white skin was bad enough – now I was pink too.

I didn’t like having to go to these treatments, but to my parents, it wasn’t an option. While they meant well, they would get disappointed in me when I didn’t go to light therapy sessions or would forget to apply the cream. I heard a lot of lectures about the benefits of the treatments, but they couldn’t see how hard it was for me. Going to light therapy a couple times a week was just more opportunities for me to leave the house and be stared at. More than that, the treatments were exhausting. After countless sessions, I would start to see progress and my naturally tanned skin would return. But it wasn’t a permanent solution and after even a short break, the results would fade.

Why I Said ‘Goodbye’ to Treatments

After years of being burnt, embarrassed and frustrated with treatments, I ended up missing a handful of light therapy sessions and the pigmentation on my face reverted back to vitiligo. It was as if I had wasted years of my life. I felt disheartened, cheated, robbed, hurt, sad, angry, ugly, hopeless and alone. My dermatologist noticed my frustration and tried having a heart-to-heart conversation, but I was angry. As he talked about other options, it suddenly hit me – I was done with treatments.

So much of my life was spent treating my skin because I needed to “get better.” I was raised with the idea that I needed a treatment to help me get better. But the only thing I needed to do was to love my skin the way it was. I decided that it was time to embrace my skin, take care of my mental health and love the girl looking back at me in the mirror. My joy should not be based on the number of light treatments I went to last week or how much of my pigmentation is returning. True happiness comes from loving yourself despite that.

Zoila Holt

Zoila Holt is a lifestyle blogger, student and YouTube junkie who loves to sing. Originally from El Salvador, these days she calls Vancouver home.

Zoila Holt

Distinguish Between Tinea Versicolor and Vitiligo

If you notice light- or dark-colored areas on your skin, you may wonder what’s causing them and how to treat them. Two common causes of skin discoloration are tinea versicolor and vitiligo. Even though these skin conditions may look similar, they have different causes, and you’ll need to try different strategies to get them to clear up.

Jordan Abbott, MD, a dermatologist with Banner Health, explained more about what these conditions look like and how to treat them.

Tinea versicolor (TV), also called pityriasis versicolor, develops when too much yeast grows on your skin. The excessive yeast leads to a rash that looks like round flat patches which can be lighter or darker than the surrounding skin. It most often strikes the chest and back.

Vitiligo is an acquired disorder of depigmentation of the skin. “Normally your skin has pigment-producing cells called melanocytes. They produce melanin, which gives the skin its color. In vitiligo patches, these pigment-producing cells are absent,” Dr. Abbott said.

Both conditions can appear as light spots on the skin, and they don’t usually have any other symptoms. “If you didn’t see them, you wouldn’t know they were there,” Dr. Abbott said. In rare cases, tinea versicolor can be slightly itchy or dry. Neither condition is contagious, so don’t worry about catching TV or vitiligo if you touch someone who has it. Both can develop in people with any skin color.

How can you tell them apart?

TV and vitiligo usually affect different parts of your body. You’ll usually spot signs of vitiligo on the face, hands, elbows and knees. It’s unusual to see tinea versicolor on the hands or legs. TV is most common on the chest or back.

And the discoloration isn’t the same for both conditions. “While they both can have spots that are lighter than the surrounding skin, the color appears different to a trained eye,” Dr. Abbott said. TV can be a few shades lighter than the unaffected skin, due to decreased pigment in these spots. With vitiligo, the skin lacks all pigment in the affected areas, so it appears chalk or milk white. 

What to know about tinea versicolor

Tinea versicolor is a common fungal infection caused by a yeast called Malassezia, also known as Pityrosporum. This yeast normally grows on your skin and usually doesn’t cause any trouble unless here’s an overgrowth—that’s what causes tinea versicolor. 

Heat, humidity and excessive sweating can trigger TV, so you see it more often in tropical climates. People also may develop this condition in the spring when the weather warms up. Oily skin is another risk factor, so it is more common in teens and young adults. And athletes are also at risk because of the sweaty, humid environment underneath their uniforms or workout clothes. To keep tinea versicolor infection from recurring, you should avoid excessive sweating, sun exposure and heat. Wearing sunscreen or protective clothing and opting for loose-fitting garments made of cotton can help reduce sweating.

How to diagnose and treat tinea versicolor

Your health care provider can usually diagnose tinea versicolor by observation—it looks different than vitiligo and other skin conditions. They might use a tool called a Wood lamp which uses utraviolet light to see the patches more clearly.

If you’re diagnosed with TV, your dermatologist will probably recommend a short course of topical antifungal treatments you apply to your skin or take by mouth to help the rash clear up. 

“It may sound funny, but one of the common treatments is to use anti-dandruff shampoo, like selenium sulfide (Selsun Blue) as a body wash in the shower,” Dr. Abbott said. That’s because the same yeast that causes TV may also cause dandruff. “It works best when you lather the product on your skin and allow it to sit for 10 minutes before rinsing.” 

Some people who get tinea versicolor repeatedly use dandruff shampoo as body wash regularly to keep it at bay. Because the yeast that causes TV lives on your skin all the time, flare-ups are common.

What to know about vitiligo

Vitiligo is believed to be an autoimmune disorder where your immune system’s cells attack the melanocytes that produce pigment in your skin. It can be associated with other autoimmune conditions such as thyroid disease and type 1 diabetes. People commonly see it start around age 20. Some medications, such as immunotherapy used to treat certain cancers, can trigger vitiligo.

How to diagnose and treat vitiligo

Like TV, doctors can often diagnose vitiligo by examining your skin. If they need more information, they may take a skin biopsy so the cells can be evaluated in a lab.

If you have vitiligo, your doctor may recommend skin creams, pills or light therapy (phototherapy) for treatment. If the affected areas are smaller (less than 5% to 10% of your skin), you’ll probably try a skin cream first. 

If vitiligo is spreading quickly, your doctor may prefer an oral medication that can help slow down or stop the spread. “With vitiligo, the goal of treatment is initially to stop the progression. After that, the skin can begin to re-pigment,” Dr. Abbott said. Vitiligo can’t be cured, but it can be controlled. Some people use cosmetics to cover up the lighter areas.

The bottom line

Tinea versicolor and vitiligo are two skin conditions that can look similar but have different causes and treatments. If you have light or discolored patches on your skin, your health care provider can figure out what’s behind them and recommend a treatment that can help clear up your skin.

Need help diagnosing or treating symptoms of tinea versicolor or vitiligo?

Schedule an appointment with a dermatologist.

Other useful articles about skin conditions

  • Psoriasis and Five Similar-Looking Conditions You May Confuse With It
  • Can Your Skin Condition Be Treated with Light Therapy?
  • Here’s How to Break the Itchy Cycle of Hives


causes, what it looks like, symptoms, signs, treatment, how to get rid of dandruff at home








Dandruff – small scales of the epidermis, which, after peeling off, remain on the scalp. Almost every person has experienced this unpleasant condition. These small scales are formed due to the accelerated growth of the main cells of the epidermis in the process of renewal of the cellular layer of the skin.

Dandruff is considered a mild manifestation of seborrheic dermatitis. It is not contagious, most often occurs in people aged 15-25 years and very rarely in the elderly. It is believed that this is the result of non-compliance with the rules of personal hygiene. However, in most cases, dermatologists define this condition as the result of a disease.

Causes and triggers

Dandruff never appears on its own, there are always certain reasons for this. The main of them is the defeat of the scalp with a yeast fungus of the genus Malassezia furfur (Pityrosporum ovale). The favorite localization of these fungi is areas of the skin where sebum is present in large quantities.

Among the predisposing factors are:

  • heredity – if there are people in the family who suffer from such a problem, then it is very likely that children will also have it;
  • increased work of the sebaceous glands, especially in the transitional adolescence with the onset of sex hormones;
  • seborrhea – excessive formation of sebum;
  • diseases of the nervous system;
  • taking certain drugs used in the treatment of mental illness;
  • emotional overload;
  • intestinal dysbacteriosis;
  • diseases of the digestive tract;
  • avitaminosis;
  • diabetes mellitus;
  • the use of chemicals and thermal effects on the scalp.

Why does dandruff still appear? It can occur when using cheap and low-quality shampoos, which include aggressive surfactants, and also be the result of too frequent or, conversely, too rare shampooing.

Dandruff in young children is often the result of an allergic reaction, as well as the wrong choice of scalp care products. In adolescents, it is associated with the transition period and the strengthening of the hormonal system. Often it is diagnosed along with too oily facial skin, as well as acne.


According to the international classification, dandruff belongs to seborrheic dermatitis. It is customary to distinguish three options:

  1. Oily dandruff (seborrhea) occurs against the background of increased sebum production. At the same time, the skin and hair are oily and shiny. This type of dandruff is divided into thick and liquid. In the first case, the scales stick together, the hair becomes hard and rough, there are comedones on the skin. The second is distinguished by enlarged pores and shiny skin, the scales fit tightly to the skin, and the hair sticks together in strands.
  2. Dry dandruff (seborrhea) is the result of minimal sebum secretion by the scalp, which is associated with its increased viscosity. Because of this, the scalp becomes too dry, and the hair is thin and brittle, severe itching appears.
  3. Mixed form (seborrhea) – when signs of both oily and dry seborrhea appear.

As a result, a lot of scales appear on a person’s head, their number significantly exceeds the norm, so they become visible to the naked eye. If this is accompanied by itching and irritation, and foci of redness appear, then the diagnosis is “Seborrheic dermatitis”. Scales are easily separated from the scalp, fall on clothes. The hair itself becomes thin, brittle, they have split ends.

Dandruff on the head is always an unpleasant phenomenon, and it will not be possible to cope with this problem with cosmetics. It is necessary to consult a dermatologist or trichologist and prescribe medications.


The symptoms of dandruff are easy to identify. It does not go unnoticed and is a real aesthetic problem for people with this diagnosis. Excessive shampooing and combing, as well as the use of a hair dryer, other chemical and thermal agents, will only exacerbate the existing problem.

The signs of dandruff are especially noticeable in people with dark hair, as against such a background, white scales will be clearly visible both throughout the scalp and along the length of the hair. Among the main manifestations are oily sheen of hair and peeling of the scalp with flaking of a large number of skin flakes. Also, patients note severe itching, redness and increased sensitivity of the skin. Some people start to lose their hair.

A large number of scales in the hair and on clothes is a clear sign that ordinary shampoos cannot cope with the problem. Moreover, their accumulation is not observed everywhere, but only in places of high pressure and in the forehead.


If dandruff of the scalp is not treated, then in the future, with the aggravation of the process, all kinds of complications can develop. Their list includes:

  1. Sebopsoriasis with the transition of scaly plaques to other areas of the body.
  2. Hair loss associated with the overlap of hair follicles with scales, due to which they do not receive oxygen. Sometimes this leads to the death of hair follicles, and then baldness forms in places where such dead tissues are concentrated.
  3. Pyoderma as a result of constant scratching of itchy skin with nails. An infection gets into the wounds, which can cause suppuration with the formation of boils, abscesses.
  4. A sebaceous gland cyst that develops due to blockage of its duct, and all the secret of the gland will accumulate inside it.

All this causes severe psycho-emotional discomfort, and a person with such a diagnosis tries to appear less in society. Even with daily shampooing, the problem remains unresolved.


Identifying dandruff on hair is not difficult at all. It is important to conduct a survey, find the cause and provoking factors that will lead to the further development of seborrhea. Some patients are advised to take a blood test for glucose, thyroid hormones. Examination is performed using a dermatoscope. If necessary, consultations are held with a gastroenterologist, trichologist, endocrinologist.

Differential diagnosis is carried out with psoriasis, irritant dermatitis, trichomycosis, lichen.


How to get rid of dandruff forever? Unfortunately, there is no single answer to this question. The first thing to do is to identify and eliminate the cause of the disease.

Dandruff is treated at home using special shampoos, which are bought only in pharmacies. The most popular and effective are:

  1. “Kertiol” – with sulfur and salicylic acid in the composition. With regular use, it helps to get rid of flaking of the scalp, relieves itching and irritation, and eliminates oiliness.
  2. “Seligel” – recommended for the treatment of dry dandruff in men. Thanks to selenium disulfide, it has a pronounced antifungal effect. The therapeutic component helps for a long time to eliminate the cause of increased peeling – a fungus.
  3. “Friderm zinc” – has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal activity. Gradually accumulating in the cells of the epidermis, zinc does not allow fungi to reactivate and again lead to inflammation.
  4. “Kelual DS” – recommended for use in case of exacerbation of the disease. Most often used for dandruff in women in the autumn-winter period. Helps to neutralize the action of the fungus, reduces the production of sebum, eliminates itching and redness of the scalp.
  5. Nizoral is one of the popular antifungal agents. However, after stopping use, the risk of recurrence of symptoms is high. Recommended for use in teenagers.
  6. “Sebozol” is a popular remedy in the treatment of diseases caused by fungi that live on the skin and scalp. It also helps in the treatment of seborrhea and lichen.

Use dandruff shampoo only need a therapeutic effect. With it, you should wash your hair 2 times a week, and you need to not only apply the product to your hair, but also carefully rub it into the scalp, and then leave it for 5-10 minutes, then rinse with water. There is also a soap for dandruff, which can be based on the same medicinal ingredients as in shampoos. Most often, doctors recommend tar and sulsen for use.

If within 3 weeks of this treatment the number of skin scales does not decrease or does not disappear at all, you should seek medical advice.

What else should I do if I have dandruff? Dandruff remedies can be supplemented with a balanced diet, avoiding fatty and sugary foods. The diet must contain fermented milk products, as well as vitamin-mineral complexes and fiber.


Unfortunately, there are actually no effective measures to prevent dandruff. Despite the fact that it is not so difficult to eliminate the main symptom, scales on the hair, it is necessary to identify and eliminate the cause of the disease. On the recommendation of a dermatologist, it is necessary to wash your hair often using a selected shampoo, eat right, not expose yourself to severe stress and give up bad habits. If you do not start treatment in a timely manner, then over time this problem will develop into a more severe form – dermatitis.

The author of the article:

Shapovalova Valeria Olegovna

cosmetologist, dermatologist, trichologist

work experience 7 years

reviews leave feedback


m. Sukharevskaya



  • Name
  • Primary appointment (examination, consultation) with a dermatovenereologist (specialist in trichology) 2300