Hair Dandruff

Learn how to stop hair dandruff

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What is exactly dandruff?

Dandruff is a lay term commonly used in the context of mild seborrhoeic dermatitis of the scalp. However, any scalp condition that produces scales could be labelled as dandruff. Dandruff can Also be defined as flaky skin on your scalp. Some dandruff is normal, because your top layer of your skin flakes away naturally over time. But dandruff is sometimes caused by a medical condition that can benefit from treatment. Seborrhoeic dermatitis is a skin condition that causes flaky or inflamed skin. It seems to be linked to yeasts that grow on oily parts of your body, like your scalp or around your nose. When it affects your scalp, it can cause large flakes of skin. The cause of seborrhoeic dermatitis is unknown and seems to be a multifactorial disease. Malassezia yeasts, a genus classified in seven species, are considered to have an important role in seborrhoeic dermatitis producing an inflammatory reaction involving T cells and complement.

What are the symptoms?
Seborrhoeic dermatitis of the scalp can cause severe dandruff. The flakes tend to be oily, and they may be a white or yellowish colour.You may also get itchy or inflamed skin that looks a bit like sunburn.
The cause of dandruff is the yeast called Pityrosporum ovale present on the scalp and upper back. They feed on the natural grease that is developed on the scalp and upper back. What to do with dandruff menace?

Some common beliefs about dandruff are:
1. Dandruff is due to dryness of the skin. False.
Dandruff is caused by a rapid turnover of cells, so more dead cells are shed from the surface. In fact, dandruff occurs in areas where the grease glands of the skin are most active, and the skin is not usually dry.
2.Dandruff is more common in males than in females. True.
Probably because the grease glands are affected by hormones.
3.Dandruff is affected by the weather. Probably true.
Sunlight inhibits the growth of the Pityrosporum ovale yeast.
4.Dandruff results from poor hygiene. False.
Dandruff is caused by rapid turnover of skin cells, probably as a reaction to the Pityrosporum ovale yeast. However, dandruff sufferers do not have more of the yeast than other people - they are just more sensitive to it.
5.Dandruff is contagious. False.
You can’t ‘catch’ dandruff from someone else, such as by using his/her brush or comb.
6.Wearing a hat worsens dandruff. Possibly true.
Pityrosporum ovale yeasts thrive best when protected from sunlight. Also, wearing a hat prevents sweat from evaporating, and this may encourage the yeast.

Dandruff and itching scalp
Dandruff (pityriasis capitis) is the term used to describe simple scaling of the skin on the scalp. About 50 per cent of the population suffers from dandruff. Applying simple oils (for example, bath oil) to the scalp can be useful in the treatment of dandruff.

Why dandruff occurs
The top layer of the skin is constantly being shed and renewed. Although this usually goes unnoticed when it occurs on most areas of the body, it may become more visible on the scalp as the hair traps the scaling skin.

Itching scalp
Itching scalp, with or without scaling, is a very common problem. It commonly occurs in middle aged people, for no obvious reason. The usual response is to scratch, and this will often cause scratch marks and little crusty sores throughout the scalp. Dandruff can cause itching scalp. There
are also a number of less common skin conditions that can present as itching in the scalp.

Seborrhoeic dermatitis can cause itching scalp
Seborrhoeic dermatitis is the name given to a red, itchy, scaly reaction in the scalp. It is similar to dandruff, except the scale is more marked and the scalp is often inflamed. It can be very itchy and can affect other parts of the body, including the face, eyebrows, beard and central chest area.

Seborrhoeic dermatitis symptoms
Symptoms of seborrhoeic dermatitis develop gradually and may include:
• Dry or greasy diffuse scaling of the scalp. This is the most usual presentation.
• Yellow-red scaling on those areas of the body that are generally affected in extreme disease - along the hairline, behind the hairs, on the eyebrows, on the bridge of the nose, over the sternum (middle of the chest), in the creases between the nose and the lips, and inside the ears.

Why it occurs
Seborrhoeic dermatitis affects areas with high densities of large oil glands. The inflammation is caused by the body’s reaction to a yeast on the scalp and to products that break down oil produced by the oil gland.

Cradle cap
Cradle cap is a form of seborrhoeic dermatitis that occurs in newborns. It results in a thick, yellowcrusted
scalp lesion. Other symptoms can include:
• Splits in the skin and behind the ears
• Red facial pustules
• Stubborn nappy rash.
Older children can develop thick, stubborn plaques on the scalp, measuring one to two centimetres
across.

Factors that can make seborrhoeic dermatitis worse
The incidence and severity of seborrhoeic dermatitis seems to be affected by:
• Other illnesses - for example, patients with neurologic disease (especially Parkinson’s
disease) or HIV may have severe seborrhoeic dermatitis.
• Emotional or physical stress.
• Genetic factors.
• The season - seborrhoeic dermatitis is usually worse in winter.

Psoriasis can cause itching scalp
Psoriasis is a relatively common skin condition that affects about three per cent of the population. It is often confined to the scalp, elbows and knees. While seborrhoeic dermatitis tends to involve almost all the scalp, psoriasis often occurs in small, localised patches of redness with quite prominent thick scaling. Because psoriasis may only occur on the scalp, it can be mistaken for a severe case of dandruff. Psoriasis has a genetic link - there is often a family history of the condition. It may be triggered by some form of stress. Read about dandruff treatments

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