Dandruff, also known as seborrhea, is a common-contagious condition of skin areas rich in oil glands (the face, scalp, and upper trunk) marked by flaking (overproduction of skin cells) and sometimes redness and itching (inflammation) of the scalp, varying in severity from mild flaking of the scalp to scaly, red patches.

Dandruff - those dry, white flakes of skin you brush off your collar or shoulders - is essentially harmless. But it can be embarrassing and itchy. Dandruff really isn't about your hair, or how often you wash it. Instead, it's about the skin on your scalp.

The normal skin yeast, Pityrosporumovale, lives in oil-rich skin regions and plays a role in this condition. Skin cells that grow and die off too fast are the problem. Exactly why that happens isn't clear. A very common fungus called malassezia may contribute to dandruff. This fungus lives on the scalp of most healthy adults without causing any problems. One theory is that the immune system of someone with dandruff may overreact to that fungus.

Dandruff may be worse with stress, winter, and infrequent shampooing. Although there is no "cure" for dandruff, control is usually possible with frequent wash or medicated shampoos.

Risk Factors

Dandruff occurs in 15–20% of the population. The problem affects all races, may be a bit worse in men, and starts after puberty (although babies have a version called cradle cap). Dandruff peaks around the age of 40 and then may improve. Severe dandruff is frequently seen in people with Parkinson's disease and others with central nervous system problems, as well as in those with HIV infection.

Signs and Symptoms

  • The scalp is itchy and flaky.
  • One or more of the following areas may have patches of red, scaly skin: the scalp, hairline,forehead, eyebrows, eyelids, creases of the nose and ears, ear canals, beard areas, breastbone, mid back, groin, or armpit.

  • Mild dandruff – only some flaking with or without redness in a few small areas
    Moderate dandruff – several areas affected with bothersome redness and itch
    Severe dandruff – large areas of redness, severe itch, and unresponsive to self-care measures

Care Guidelines

Most cases of dandruff are easy to control. These include:

  • Frequent (daily)shampooing or a longer lather time.
  • Stopping use of any hair styling products.
  • If it is mild flaking then apply oil to the scalp 3 times a week and wash it with the same frequency. But if it is associated with oily scalp then daily wash with mild scalp cleanser is advisable. It is not advisable to use oil in seborrheic oleosa or in condition of psoriasis.

If all self care measures fail, get your scalp checked by a Trichologist.