Skin | Dermatology | Dandruff (Disease)


Dandruff, also known as seborrheic dermatitis, is an inflammatory condition that forms on oily areas of the skin, most likely on the scalp or inside the ear. The inflammation results in flaking scales that range in color from white to yellow. In infants, this condition is called cradle cap.

Dandruff is a chronic, lifelong disorder that is usually manageable with ongoing treatment and can disappear completely between flare-ups. Although it can cause embarrassment or social stress in some cases, it is not contagious and is rarely severe.

A person may experience fluctuations in dandruff symptoms, with extended inactive periods between flare-ups. Symptoms during flare-ups usually include:

(1) Dry, white, flaking skin

(2) Itchy skin

(3) Oily, yellow, adhering scales of skin

(4) Plaque (broad, raised area of skin)

(5) Redness, warmth or swelling

(6) Skin lesions (any abnormal skin tissue)

Causes and Risk factors

A person with dandruff has visible flakes of skin in the hair that is shed from the scalp. A fungus is normally present on the skin of the scalp. Occasionally, the fungus feeds on the oils in the scalp and grows out of control. This causes shedding of the skin cells on the surface of the scalp.

The skin cells clump together to form white flakes.

Dandruff is a common scalp disorder affecting almost half of the population at the post-pubertal age and of any sex and ethnicity. It often causes itching. It has been well established that keratinocytes play a key role in the expression and generation of immunological reactions during dandruff formation. The severity of dandruff may fluctuate with season as it often worsens in winter.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Flaking and dryness can be treated with over-the-counter dandruff or medicated shampoos. Shampoos or lotions containing selenium, ketoconazole, or corticosteroids may be prescribed for severe cases. ...