What is Dandruff?
Dandruff is the shedding of skin flakes off the scalp. It is a common, non-contagious condition, but it can be tough to treat. For many people it can be embarrassing, itchy, and uncomfortable. Especially when one is wearing dark colors for the white or yellow flakes to scatter on. It can also happen to newborns, and in that case it's called cradle cap. Its harmless and usually goes away on its own. Despite the simple symptoms, there are actually a variety of things that could cause dandruff. Professional help can get to the bottom of what's causing dandruff, treat it, and restore one’s self-esteem.
Dandruff is simple to identify. Its most commonly noticed as white flakes on their shoulders. It might appear after scratching your head because it comes off of your scalp. Here are the symptoms of dandruff:
• Scaly, crusty scalp
• Itchy scalp
• White or yellow flakes
Realizing that one has dandruff is just the beginning. There are a variety of conditions that could cause dandruff, and figuring out what that could be is the key to treating the condition. Contrary to popular belief, it's not caused by poor hygiene. The most frequent cause of dandruff is seborrheic dermatitis, but dandruff is a general term for a condition that could cause these white skin flakes. Here is a list of the conditions that could cause dandruff:
Seborrheic dermatitis - A type of eczema caused by an association with a yeast called Malassezia, stress, cold and dry weather.
Contact dermatitis - A type of eczema caused by a skin reaction to chemical irritants and/or allergens.
Psoriasis on the Scalp - There are several types of psoriasis that could cause scaly, flaky skin and they’re generally caused by an immune system attack on healthy skin cells which causes inflammation, hyperactive skin growth, and therefore the flakes characteristic of dandruff.
Tinea Capitis - A highly contagious ringworm fungal infection of the scalp that damages hair follicles and causes the scaly, flaky skin characteristic of dandruff.
Dry skin - Causes itching and flaking.
Not all dandruff is treated the same. There are many conditions that could cause dandruff, and they all have their own method of treatment. There is also the possibility that dandruff could be caused by unlikely skin conditions. Having a professional determine the cause of dandruff is important in receiving the most effective treatment plan.
While home remedies have taken on popularity, there are little to no studies confirming the effectiveness of such treatments. In some cases, it might even do more harm than good considering their minimal effectiveness versus the unknown side effects they could have on your body. It’s best to follow the medical advice of a dermatologist because they know what will or will not treat the disease. Here are some popular home remedies that you should be careful with:
• Tea Tree Oil
• Baking Soda
• Aloe Vera
• Apple Cider Vinegar
Over the Counter Medication
While some over the counter (OTC) medications are effective enough to be given as prescriptions, other OTC medications have limited effects on disease. They might help for mild to moderate cases, but they aren’t usually effective on severe ones. If used incorrectly and without guidance, they might even prove to be ineffective and produce unforeseen side effects. However, a dermatologist can tell you whether or not these can be effective for you. Here are some OTC medications that may or may not be included in a treatment plan given by one of our dermatologists:
Anti-Dandruff shampoo - Depending on the kind of shampoo, these work by killing bacteria and fungus that could cause dandruff, prolong scalp skin cell life, or remove scaling on the scalp.
Prescriptions, alongside professional medical advice, are the most effective form of treatment. Home remedies and over the counter treatments take plenty of time, energy, and money, yet are uncertain to work. Our experienced dermatologists take your unique skin, set of symptoms, and medical history into account to take the guessing game out of your road to recovery. Here are some prescriptions your dermatologist might include in your personalized treatment plan:
Anti-Dandruff shampoo - Depending on the kind of shampoo, these work by killing bacteria and fungus that could cause dandruff, prolong scalp skin cell life, or remove scaling on the scalp. Persistent dandruff may need prescription strength.
Lotions - These may contain steroids that can lessen itching and redness in severe dandruff.
Post Treatment Prevention
After being seen by one of our SkyMD dermatologists, you’ve been equipped with the treatment plan and prescription(s) to treat your discomfort. However, disease can be persistent, so you have to be too. A skin care routine and a set of disease-preventing habits recommended by our dermatologists are essential for long term prevention. Here are some popular prevention strategies that could supplement your personalized treatment plan:
• Wash hair regularly
• Minimize stress