Dandruff is also called as seborheic dermatitis which is a common inflammatory skin condition that causes whitish to yellowish scales to form on oily areas like scalp,face,inside the ears.On the scalp it can cause intensive itching and flakiness.It is primarily an aesthetic problem and sometimes can be very embarrassing. It doesn’t cause hair loss.
There can be several causes for dandruff occurrence.
- Oily skin
- Naturally oily skin, oily scalp.
- Due to seborrheic dermatitis – Flaking occurs wherever oil glands are present like eyebrows, chest and wherever skin folds are present.
- Improper hair care – Both unclean hair, which is not regularly shampooed and dry hair which is too frequently and harshly washed – can result in dandruff.
- Sensitivity to hair-care products – Contact dermatitis can happen due to some chemicals/ingredients in hair dyes or hair-care products resulting in itchy scaly scalp which may turn red.Most commonly lotions containing alcohol can worsen dandruff.
- Malassezia – A kind of a fungus which lives on the scalp of most healthy adults without causing problems.The exact cause of the overgrowth of the fungus is unknown but the contributing factor being excess oiliness of the scalp which triggers more skin cells to grow.The extra skin cells shed and clump with the oil on the scalp resulting in flakiness of the scalp which is seen on the clothes.
- Medical diseases – Some underlying medical conditions cause flaky, dry and red skin with resultant dandruff.
- Skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.
- Weak and poor immune systems due to HIV/AIDS.
- Chemotherapy for cancer.
- Parkinson’s disease.
- Extreme weather conditions – too hot and too humid; too cold and too dry conditions can cause dandruff.
Whether you are a teenager or an adult, dandruff symptoms are similar and easy to detect.
- Greasy flaky looking white/yellow scales or gray scales seen in the hair and on your shoulders.
- Persistently dry skin on your face but a very oily looking scalp.
- Worse symptoms during fall and winter but better during summer.
- Possible itchy and irritated and red looking scalp.
Seeking medical help & Diagnosis
You can try first OTC dandruff shampoos to control your dandruff. If dandruff persists, you must seek medical help. If you have a red, swollen-looking, scratchy scalp, you must get a dermatology consult. The physician will do a scalp exam; look at the hair and flakes. He will check for seborrheic dermatitis and underlying causes and start a treatment course suitable for you.