What is Dandruff or Seborrheic dermatitis
Dandruff, also known as Seborrheic dermatitis is a common scalp disorder. It can occur due to dry skin, irritated oily skin, growth of bacteria and fungus on the scalp, inflammatory skin conditions and other such factors. It causes itchiness along with excessive formation of dry skin flakes on the scalp.
What are the Causes
Dandruff can have several causes, including:
- Dry skin. Simple dry skin is the most common cause of dandruff. Flakes from dry skin are generally smaller and less oily than those from other causes of dandruff, and you’ll likely have symptoms and signs of dry skin on other parts of the body, such as your legs and arms.
- Irritated, oily skin (seborrheic dermatitis). This condition, one of the most frequent causes of dandruff, is marked by red, greasy skin covered with flaky white or yellow scales. Seborrheic dermatitis may affect your scalp and other areas rich in oil glands, such as your eyebrows, the sides of your nose and the backs of your ears, your breastbone, your groin area, and sometimes your armpits.
- Not shampooing often enough. If you don’t regularly wash your hair, oils and skin cells from your scalp can build up, causing dandruff.
- Other skin conditions. People with skin conditions such as eczema — a chronic, inflammatory skin condition — or psoriasis — a skin condition marked by a rapid buildup of rough, dry, dead skin cells that form thick scales — may appear to have dandruff.
- A yeast-like fungus (malassezia). Malassezia lives on the scalps of most adults, but for some, it irritates the scalp. This can irritate your scalp and cause more skin cells to grow. The extra skin cells die and fall off, making them appear white and flaky in your hair or on your clothes. Why malassezia irritates some scalps isn’t known.
- Sensitivity to hair care products (contact dermatitis).Sometimes sensitivities to certain ingredients in hair care products or hair dyes, especially paraphenylenediamine, can cause a red, itchy, scaly scalp. Shampooing too often or using too many styling products also may irritate your scalp, causing dandruff.
Dandruff can be controlled, but dandruff treatment may take patience and persistence. In general, daily cleansing with a gentle shampoo to reduce oiliness and skin cell buildup can often help mild dandruff.
Most anti-dandruff or anti-fungal shampoos contain at least one of the following active ingredients:
- Zinc pyrithione – an ingredient which slows down the production of yeast
- Selenium sulphide – this reduces the production of natural oils your scalp glands produce
- Coal tar – this has a natural anti-fungal agent. If your hair is dyed or treated remember that long-term coal tar usage can stain the hair
- Ketoconazole – a very effective anti-fungal. Most people who use this are pleased with the results. Experts say shampoos with this ingredient can be used with young and elderly people
- Salicylic acids – these help your scalp get rid of skin cells. They do not slowdown the reproduction of skin cells. Many “scalp scrubs” contain salicylic acids. Some people find salicylic acid treatments leave their scalps dry and eventually make the flaking of the skin worse
- Tea-tree oil – This oil comes from the Australian Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia). A growing number of shampoos now include tea-tree oil as one of its ingredients. It has been used for centuries as an anti-fungal, antibiotic, and an antiseptic. However, some people are allergic to it.
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