Dandruff

Dandruff is a condition that causes the skin on the scalp to be dry and flaky. It is not a serious condition, but can be very embarrassing, itchy, and sometimes difficult to treat. Fortunately, treatments are generally successful in controlling the condition.

Causes: Dandruff is caused by skin cells dying too quickly and growing too fast. Why the skin cells act this way is not fully understood and could be due to a variety of factors. Some of the factors that contribute to dandruff include dry, oily or irritated skin, infrequent shampooing, sensitivity to hair-care products, other skin conditions (i.e. eczema), and a type of yeast called malassezia. Dandruff is known to be worse in the fall and winter due to dry environmental conditions.

Symptoms: Most symptoms of dandruff are mild, causing white flakes of dead skin to appear throughout the scalp and hair. Dandruff can also cause itchiness. If the scalp appears red in addition to flaky, this is known as seborrheic dermatitis, a more severe inflammatory form of dandruff. Dandruff is not usually a serious condition that needs medical attention. However, a visit to the doctor will be necessary if the scalp becomes red or if symptoms cannot be reduced with over-the-counter medications and shampoos.

Treatment: Dandruff can be treated by a number of over-the-counter or prescribed shampoos depending on the severity of the condition.