Dandruff can happen at any age but is most commonly found in people between the ages of 12 and 80. (A form of dandruff known as cradle cap occurs in newborns and infants).
Dandruff is an itchy, annoying and persistent skin disorder of the scalp. A dark shirt and dandruff just simply don't go together! There is nothing more embarrassing than to have someone brush white flakes off your new black sweater or denim jacket. In the past ten years dandruff problems in the United States have become more serious and more frequent.
What is DANDRUFF?
- Dandruff is characterized by small, loose flakes of dead skin on the scalp or trapped in the hair.
- Dandruff is not dangerous, does not cause balding and is not contagious.
- Dandruff is a natural process and it can not be eliminated or cured. Dandruff can only be managed and controlled.
Causes of DANDRUFF
- Dandruff may be caused by several different factors, but the exact underlying cause of dandruff is unknown or is at least not agreed upon by the medical establishment.
- One possible cause of dandruff may be sensitivity to, or overgrowth of, a fungus present on the scalp.
- Another possible cause may be overactive oil glands on the scalp which cause an increase of the natural skin shedding process.
- Another possible cause may be clogged oil glands on the scalp. These clogged pores can lead to over-drying and flaking of the skin.
- Poor diet, poor hygiene, genetic disposition, hormonal imbalances and infections may all possibly contribute to dandruff.
- Some external contributors to dandruff may include infrequent shampooing of the hair or inadequate hair rinsing, improper use of hair-coloring products, cold weather, dry environment and tight fitting hats.
- Dandruff may become worse with stress or if the patient is "run-down".
Symptoms of DANDRUFF
- Unsightly flakes or scales are typically present on the scalp and trapped in the hair.
- Whether or not these flakes are "oily" or "dry" may hint to the underlying cause of the dandruff.
- Dandruff rarely has any symptoms but itching of the scalp may occur.
Treatment and prevention of DANDRUFF
- Dandruff can disappear suddenly without treatment or may take multiple weeks of treatment to improve.
- Prevention of dandruff may be achieved by shampooing regularly with a mild, non-medicated shampoo. The scalp should be massaged gently to loosen flakes and the hair and scalp rinsed thoroughly
- Anti-dandruff shampoos containing coal tar, pyrithione zinc, salicylic acid or selenium sulfide are available without a prescription. (Specific products may be recommended by a physician or pharmacist.)
- Stronger anti-dandruff shampoos and lotions are also available by prescription.
- If the flaking skin is isolated in one area or in multiple areas, then the condition may be a skin problem other than dandruff and a physician should be notified.