Excessive shedding of flakes of skin from the scalp
- More common in young adults
- Gender, genetics, and lifestyle are not significant factors
Dandruff is a harmless condition that involves an acceleration in the normal shedding of dead skin cells from the scalp. This dead skin accumulates as white flakes in the hair and sometimes causes itching. The condition is most common in young adults and may be a source of embarrassment.
Dandruff is most often caused by a yeast organism that grows in the scalp. Extensive dandruff is known as seborrhoeic dermatitis, a disorder that causes inflammation and scaling of the skin in other areas of the body, such as the face, chest, and back. Dandruff may be associated with inflammation of the eyelids (see Blepharitis).
You can treat dandruff by washing your hair three to four times a week with a tar-based shampoo or a shampoo that contains an antiyeast agent, such as selenium sulphide or ketoconazole (see Antifungal drugs).
If the dandruff persists despite treatment, you should consult your doctor because you may have developed a skin condition, such as eczema or psoriasis, that also affects the scalp. These disorders may require specific treatment with prescription drugs.
From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.
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