Monday, December 15, 2014

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Dandruff: Symptoms and Treatment

What is dandruff?

Dandruff is a condition of the scalp that makes flakes of dead skin appear in the hair, and on the collar and shoulders.

Dandruff is common, affecting around half of all people at some stage.

You cannot catch dandruff and while it isn’t usually serious, it can be embarrassing or itchy.
Man looking over, brushing dandruff off shoulder

What are the symptoms of dandruff?

Symptoms of dandruff include:
  • Flakes of skin that range from small and white to large, greasy, and yellow.
  • Itchy flaking that appears on the scalp or eyebrows or around the hairline, ears or nose.
Dandruff is usually diagnosed through the flakes of skin, but in severe cases, other skin or health conditions may be investigated.

Causes of dandruff

In a person with dandruff, usual skin renewal cycle gets speeded up causing more patches of dead skin cells on the scalp.

Dandruff isn’t a sign of dirty hair, although it can be triggered by too much washing as well as too little.
Dandruff can also be linked to:
  • Seborrhoeic dermatitis causing oily and flaking skin.
  • The skin fungus malassezia.
  • Psoriasis
  • Eczema
  • Stress
  • Some hair products
  • A weakened immune system

Seek medical advice if:

Scaling is greasy and yellow and does not respond to over-the-counter dandruff shampoos and lotions; you may have seborrhoeic dermatitis and need more intensive treatment to relieve the redness, itching and flaking.

What are the treatments for dandruff?

Mild cases of dandruff may need nothing more than more frequent use of a mild shampoo massaged gently into the scalp. 
Daily washing with an antidandruff shampoo or one containing tea tree oil can help.
Special anti dandruff shampoo ingredients include;
  • Zinc pyrithione to fight malassezia fungus
  • Salicylic acid to help soften and remove dead skin cells
  • Selenium sulphide to kill fungus and slow skin cell production
  • Ketoconazole antifungal ingredients
  • Coal tar shampoo to help slow skin cell production
Not all products will be suitable for everyone and all hair types, seek medical advice from your GP or pharmacist if you have concerns.
It may help to avoid hairspray and hair gel products until the dandruff clears up.


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Aqeel A. Zaman