What is dandruff?

Dandruff, also called seborrheic dermatitis, is an inflammatory condition that forms on oily areas of the skin, particularly on the scalp or inside the ear. The inflammation results in flaking scales that range in color from white to yellow. In infants, this condition is called cradle cap.

Dandruff is a chronic, lifelong disorder that is usually manageable with ongoing treatment and can disappear completely between flare-ups. Although it can cause embarrassment or social stress in some cases, it is not contagious and is rarely severe.

Dandruff can be emotionally taxing in severe cases, but it is not a life-threatening condition. Left untreated, it can lead to secondary bacterial or fungal infections. Seek prompt medical care if you are being treated for dandruff and any skin patches form crusts, exude pus, or become very red or painful.


What are the symptoms of dandruff?

Symptoms of dandruff include flaky scales that range in color from white to yellow, usually on oily parts of the skin such as the scalp or inside of the ear. Sometimes the affected skin is also red.

Common symptoms of dandruff

You may experience fluctuations in dandruff symptoms, with extended inactive periods between flare-ups. Symptoms during flare-ups usually include... Read more about dandruffsymptoms


What causes dandruff?

Although the exact cause of dandruff is not known, it is likely caused by a combination of skin oil overproduction and Malassezia, a type of yeast found on the scalp. Experts propose that dandruff is not a disease of the sebaceous glands of the skin or its secretions. However, sebaceous glands appear to be necessary for the development of dandruff because of its preference for body sites w... Read more about dandruffcauses


How is dandruff treated?

There is no cure for dandruff, but you can usually manage dandruff with a combination of diligent use of medication, excellent hygiene, and general good self-care to help avoid triggers. Use of special dandruff shampoos can help prevent flare-ups or manage a current flare-up. In severe cases, prescription medications, such as a corticosteroid shampoo or corticosteroid lotion added to your norma... Read more about dandrufftreatments

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Aug 9, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Skin, Hair and Nails

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