Dandruff is a condition in which the skin of the scalp becomes dry and flaky. The most common cause of dandruff is seborrheic dermatitis (seborrhea), which tends to occur on the scalp, ears, face, chest, and back. The cause of seborrhea is unknown, although a yeast that often lives on the skin may play a role. Seborrhea may also cause flaky patches in the eyebrows, on the forehead, in the ear canal, on the skin between the nostrils and the lips. Although skin affected by seborrhea may feel and look dry, the problem is not one of moisture or hydration.
Seborrhea does not cause hair loss, and might not even itch. Seborrhea often appears in children and can last a few months. People who have weakened immune systems might be more susceptible to mild or severe seborrhea. Seborrhea is very common, affecting 5% of the all people.
Certain other inflammatory diseases can also produce dandruff: psoriasis, fungal infection of the scalp (tinea capitis), and allergic contact dermatitis.
What are the symptoms?
The classic, well-known sign of dandruff, or seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp, is white flakes on the scalp and in the hair. These flakes also tend to fall on the shoulders and back, becoming more noticeable. The scalp may also feel itchy. Seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp can also cause a rash or red, flaky, greasy patches of skin.
Usually, dandruff do not require a visit to the doctor. However, if self-treatment solutions do not help, and symptoms like itching, redness or swelling persist for weeks – see a doctor.
What are the Treatments?
Treating dandruff often requires time and patience. In general, pharmacy-bought commercial products, like special dandruff shampoos, can get the condition under control by reducing oiliness and skin cell buildup. Dandruff shampoos are classified according to the medication they contain: Zinc pyrithione shampoos (Head & Shoulders) contain an antibacterial and antifungal agent that can reduce dandruff-causing fungus on the scalp. Tar-based shampoos (Neutrogena T/Gel) use coal tar, which slows the life-cycle of scalp skin cells. Selenium sulfide shampoos (Selsun Blue) also slow your skin cells from dying, and may also reduce yeast presence. Any of these shampoos, used on a daily basis, should eradicate dandruff symptoms within a few days. A sufferer can then slowly reduce the frequency of use.
Baking soda, tea tree oil, vinegar and other natural substances that can eliminate fungus or yeast on the scalp are used as alternative remedies for scalp dandruff.
Do you have questions about dandruff? Can you recommend treatments that have worked for you? Let us know in the comments below…