More than anything, having dandruff is awful specifically for aesthetic reasons. Flakes on shoulders look dirty and may signify poor hygiene, though it is not entirely the case. Dandruff can be so humiliating that it affects a person’s self-esteem.
Understanding the condition is a very important step in dealing with it. Your skin continuously sheds layers, with the scalp shedding more than any other part of the body. Dandruff is an excessive amount of larger-than-normal flakes of scalp that stick to the shafts of the hair where they may accumulate a build-up of oil, dust, and hair products. These flakes eventually fall on the collars and sleeves of clothes. White scales and flakes on the scalp which fall onto the shoulders are clear signs of dandruff. Some irritation or itch may be present.
Most of the time, the cause of dandruff is not related to hygienic practices. The most common cause is the abnormal overproduction and shedding of dead skin from the scalp. A medical condition called seborrhoeic dermatitis is a red, scaly, and itchy rash that causes the scalp to shed skin cells excessively. The cause of this condition is thought to be overgrowth of a type of yeast known as malassezia. The malassezia fungus, formerly known as pityrosporum, lives on most healthy scalps without causing problems, but can cause dandruff when it grows out of control.
Time to see a doctor
Dandruff is usually more cosmetic than medical and is generally considered harmless. However, in some cases, dandruff may cause thinning of the hair and may be stress-related. Severe persistent dandruff may be a symptom of more serious skin conditions such as:
• eczema, which is an inflammation of the skin that can present as a rash, swelling, dry, or crusting skin;
• psoriasis, an incurable long-term autoimmune skin disorder with signs of red, dry patches of thickened skin;
• seborrheic dermatitis that occurs in oily or greasy areas, with flaky, white to yellowish scaling of affected skin
Seek medical advice if your scalp is particularly itchy, inflamed, or has sores or crusts on it, if other parts of your body are affected, or if the affected person is a child. You may also seek further advice if the dandruff persists despite trying a number of different medicated shampoos.
To find out more how to prevent dandruff, check out Health Today April issue, now out on the newsstands.