What is Dandruff?
Dandruff is a common scalp condition in which small pieces of dry scalp skin fall off in flakes. It can also cause scaly, itchy scalp. It usually starts during puberty and peaks in your 20`s. It is less common in people over 50 years. Dandruff is related to another skin condition called Seborrheic dermatitis the severity of which is varying compared to normal skin condition.
In Seborrheic dermatitis, other than the scalp, the skin condition affects the face, behind the ears, and the upper chest. Visible skin inflammation, redness & itching are very common in Seborrheic dermatitis.
What causes Dandruff?
There is a common belief that Dandruff is a sign of poor hygiene. But it is not! Nobody knows exact cause of Dandruff. But, there are certain factors that make you prone to dandruff including the presence of fungus called Malassezia and the oiliness of your skin.
The skin fungus Malassezia lives on the skin of people. However, people with dandruff are more sensitive to it. Malassezia causes the scalp skin to break and triggers an inflammatory response on it. It ultimately leads to scalp skin to flake.
The dandruff as mentioned earlier is related to Seborrhea dermatitis. You have sebaceous glands on your skin on most part of your body that produces sebum. You can see sebum mostly on face, scalp and chest. The sebum produced is also related to hormonal changes. Sebum production increases in puberty and into your 20`s and then, decreases after 30-60. The Dandruff also is affected by these pattern where it is mostly seen in puberty and into your 20`s and becomes less active after 60.
Several other factors like weak immune system, emotional stress and genetics also play a role in developing dandruff.
Can dandruff cause hair loss?
Normally Dandruff as well as anti-dandruff shampoos and medicated shampoos do not cause hair loss. These treatments use anti fungal agents like pyrithione zinc, selenium sulfide, or ketoconazole to treat infection from Malassezia. They are not known to cause hair loss. Severe dandruff can cause intense itching and scratching that can result in damage to the hair follicles and subsequent hair loss. But, that is very uncommon. Hair loss due to mild scratching can be reversed. But, damage to hair follicles due to severe scratching cannot be reversed due to possible scarring. Seeking treatment for dandruff as soon as you notice it can alleviate the itching faster and ensure that you do not scratch enough. This will lower the chance of irreversible damage to the hair follicles and subsequent hair loss. Still, temporary hair loss can happen. There is every possibility that hair will grow back once the scalp condition is treated. The key is minimizing the damage to the hair follicles and the inflammation that will have lasting effects on the density of hair re growth.
Treatment for Dandruff
Barring any underlying health condition, treating dandruff is rather easy. Using anti-dandruff shampoo is the most common treatment for it. There are many over-the-counter shampoos having the anti fungal agents like pyrithione zinc, selenium sulfide, or ketoconazole for the better treatment for Dandruff. You have to use shampoo consistently to see better results. Your dermatologist can prescribe medicated shampoos as well.
Dandruff is an inflammatory skin condition which is not infectious or contagious. Apart from flaking and itching, it is typically a harmless skin condition. It doesn`t develop into any serious medical condition and is fairly easy to treat.