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Dandruff - Symptoms & Treatment

Dandruff (also called scurf and historicaly termed Pityriasis capitis ) is due to the excessive shedding of dead skin cells from the scalp. It is an itchy, annoying and persistent skin disorder of the scalp. Many people have this chronic scalp disorder, which is marked by itching and excessive flaking of the scalp. Although dandruff isn't contagious and is rarely serious, it can be embarrassing and surprisingly persistent. Dandruff can present as a variety of conditions such as dandruff, thick scales on the scalp, redness on the face or in the armpits, or raw, red patches below the breasts. Dandruff can happen at any age but is most commonly found in people between the ages of 12 and 80. It is a natural and harmless scalp condition in which the shedding of dead skin cells occurs at an unusually fast rate. Because of the oily skin often associated with this condition, these cells clump together and flake off as dandruff. Everyone loses skin cells in this way, but with dandruff the whole process is faster, so a greater number of cells are shed. With dandruff, this whole process of skin renewal (or skin turnover) speeds up, so a greater number of dead cells are being shed.

Dandruff is not contagious and usually not serious. It is most severe during the winter and mildest during the summer. Dandruff scales usually occur as small, round, white-to-gray patches on top of the head. Mild cases of dandruff may need nothing more than daily shampooing with a gentle cleanser. This condition can appear at any time from infancy to old age, and can come and go more or less at random. Dandruff is easy to diagnose. The condition is characterized by the appearance of white flakes on the hair or on the shoulders and collar. Dandruff is believed to be associated with an overgrowth of a fungus commonly found on the skin and scalp, called Pityrosporum ovale. Others believe factors such as stress, weather, oily skin, diet or hormones cause dandruff. Sometimes dandruff is caused by a naturally occurring yeast fungus called Pityrosporum ovale. Some people have more of this fungus than others, causing flaky scalp. Some people say their dandruff gets worse when they are stress, anxiety and tension. The best way to control dandruff is to use a shampoo that contains a medication.

Causes of Dandruff

The common causes and risk factor's of Dandruff include the following:

  • A naturally occurring yeast fungus called Pityrosporum ovale.
  • Excessive use of hair sprays and gels.
  • Development of a toxic condition mainly due to taking of wrong foods.
  • Excessive consumption of sugar, fat, starch.
  • Others believe factors such as stress, weather, oily skin, diet or hormones.
  • Certain illnesses, such as Parkinson's disease.
  • Infrequent shampooing of the hair or inadequate rinsing of the scalp and hair.

Symptoms of Dandruff

Some sign and symptoms related to Dandruff are as follows:
  • Dry, scaly skin .
  • Itching.
  • White flakes on the hair or clothing.
  • A rash on another part of the body.
  • Redness is a visible signal of inflammation of the scalp.
  • Dry or greasy hair.

Treatment of Dandruff

Here is list of the methods for treating Dandruff:

  • If you have only a mild case of dandruff, shampooing your hair with a regular shampoo daily or twice a day will usually do the trick.
  • In severe cases dermatologists will prescribe a special ointment or lotion to treat the problem.
  • A diet that provides enough zinc, B vitamins and essential fatty acid may help prevent dandruff.
  • Lather and rinse twice when using anti-dandruff shampoos, the first time cycle will clean your scalp, the second cycle will medicate it.
  • For more stubborn dandruff or seborrhoeic eczema, selenium, zinc in coconut oil or salicylic acid can be successful.
  • Coal tar, a byproduct of the coal manufacturing process, helps conditions such as dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis and psoriasis by slowing cell turnover.
  • A low strength corticosteroid cream or lotion may also be applied to the affected areas of skin.


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