Q&A with Dr. Kiskila: Dandruff

Author: Dr. Nathan Kiskila

Question: Dr. Kiskila, what is a dandruff?
Answer: Dandruff is a mild case of seborrheic dermatitis which is a skin condition that causes white flakes or scaly patches on the skin of your head or hair. Skin cells that grow and die off too fast are the problem. Exactly why this happens isn’t too clear. 

Question: How does someone get dandruff?
Answer: Dandruff typically affects areas with many oil glands on the head that get hot and sweaty. There are other variables that could contribute to dandruff as well such as:

  • Brushing hair infrequently- When you brush your hair, you help assist the natural shedding of skin.
  • Dry skin
  • Seborrheic dermatitis: Irritated skin that is oily.
  • Shampooing too frequently: the scalp could become irritated.
  • Winter cold weather combined with overheated rooms can cause scalp to become flaky and itchy.

Question: What are the symptoms of dandruff?
Answer: Itching, white scaly flakes or patches on skin that can look greasy or oily. Though dandruff is harmless, it can be embarrassing for people. Dandruff can appear on the scalp, eyebrows, hairline, ears, or nose; or in the center of the chest or back.

Question: What is the treatment for dandruff
Answer: Sometimes dandruff will resolve on its own and no treatment is necessary. Using an over-the-counter anti-dandruff shampoo is all that is needed to treat dandruff. Using over the counter hydrocortisone steroid cream to treat itching and redness if often enough to help symptoms resolve. In some cases, a prescription strength antifungal shampoo is needed to treat dandruff. Skin creams and ointments that have antifungal medications and or steroid medicines can stop itching and redness.

Question: How do I prevent getting dandruff?
Answer: Keeping your head dry and clean and less oily. Dandruff may get worse when you’re stressed or sick. So keeping a good, healthy immune system can also prevent dandruff from developing. 

The information provided is for general interest only and should not be misconstrued as a diagnosis, prognosis or treatment recommendation. This information does not in any way constitute the practice of medicine, or any other health care profession. Readers are directed to consult their health care provider regarding their specific health situation. Marque Medical is not liable for any action taken by a reader based upon this information.

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