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Other Names:
Seborrheic Dermatitis
Dandruff

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Definition

Dandruff is a itchy skin condition characterized by loose dry, white flakes of skin. This problem commonly occurs in the skin of the scalp but it can occur anywhere in the body.

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Causes

  • The exact cause is unknown.
  • Rapid turnover of skin cells of that part of the body.
  • Some people with severe skin flaking have overactive oil secreting glands on the skin.
  • Fungus called Pityrosporum ovale
  • Family history
  • Food allergies
  • Excessive sweating
  • Oily skin
  • Acne
  • Obesity
  • Use of alkaline soaps
  • Yeast infections of the skin
  • Stress.
  • Fatigue
  • Rarely neurological diseases like stroke, Parkinson's disease and head injury
  • Cold, dry winter conditions may worsen the condition.

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Symptoms

  • Skin lesions comprising of large or small flat oily areas of skin with white and yellowish flakes or scales.
  • These skin leisions may be present on the scalp, eyebrows, nose, forehead, or ears
  • Mild redness, itching and hair loss.

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Implications

All forms of dandruff causes sloughing and itching. The itching may be severe enough to to cause breaks in the skin and increase your risk of secondary infection, particularly from staphylococcus and streptococcus bacteria. Itchiness and presence of white flakes on the clothing especially in the shoulder area and back can be a source of embarrassment and nuisance. This problem has nothing to do with hygiene however, infrequently shampooing your hair may aggravate the condition.

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What You Can Do

  • Use over-the-counter anti-dandruff shampoos are quite beneficial to control the dandruff.
  • The FDA has approved five active ingredients as safe and effective for treating dandruff. These include coal-tar preparations, pyrithione zinc, salicylic acid, selenium sulfide, and sulfur. The FDA has also approved a product which is combination of salicylic acid and sulfur.
  • For stubborn dandruff that does not respond to over-the-counter preparations, use a prescription lotion or shampoo.
  • When using over-the-counter medicated anti-dandruff shampoo, leave the lather on for at least 10 minutes and be sure to rinse off the shampoo thoroughly as residue can aggravate skin problems. Initially use this shampoo daily, but once the dandruff starts to clear off, use the medicated shampoo either once or twice a week.
  • Let your hair dry naturally instead of blowing drying it.
  • Brush your hair with a natural-bristle brush
  • Brush your hair from your scalp outward with steady, firm strokes. This will carry oil from your scalp, where it can cause dandruff, along the hair strands, which need the oil to stay shiny and healthy.

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Dandruff