Dandruff is a mild form of seborrhoeic dermatitis or eczema which is a dry skin condition. It is characterised by dry skin flakes on the scalp which can cause irritation and itching. These flakes are usually very small but they can appear larger and more unsightly if oil and dirt from the scalp cause them to clump together.

Dandruff can cause embarrassment, lack of confidence and low self-esteem.

Causes

The human body constantly replaces skin by shedding old skin cells and producing new ones. Dandruff occurs when old skin cells rub off and become trapped and clumped together on the surface of the skin and in the hair.

It is not fully understood why some people suffer from dandruff and others don't. It may be that some people shed skin at a faster rate than others or it may be due to over-production of oil or due to presence of the yeast Pityrosporum.

Treatment

There is no cure for dandruff but the condition can be controlled. Usually, anti-dandruff shampoos containing mild detergents are sufficient to control the condition. They work by dissolving and rinsing skin flakes from the hair. Lather the shampoo into your hair using warm (not hot) water then leave for several minutes before rinsing it out. Those who use a hairdryer should use it on a cool or warm air setting as hot air may cause itching. Once the dandruff has cleared up, you may use a normal shampoo again. However, some people prefer to use anti-dandruff shampoo all the time or to alternate it with normal shampoo to help keep dandruff at bay.Other shampoos containing pyrithione zinc, selenium sulphide or tar extracts are also available which can help to control dandruff. They are available from most pharmacies.

White skin flakes are very noticeable when they fall onto dark clothing. To disguise dandruff wear light-coloured clothing until the dandruff clears.

When To See A Doctor

If your dandruff does not clear up, if the flakes of skin are large or if skin begins to flake elsewhere on the body, make an appointment to see your doctor.

Additional Information

Leaflets about psoriasis and eczema are also available from this pharmacy.