What is Dandruff?

Dandruff is a common scalp condition in which small pieces of dry skin flake off from the scalp and is usually associated with itching. Dandruff is considered to be a mild form of an inflammatory disorder of skin called “Seborrhoeic Dermatitis”.

What is the difference between Dandruff and Seborrhoeic Dermatitis?

  • • Dandruff typically affects only the scalp and is a mild form with loose adherent flaking.
  • • Seborrhoeic Dermatitis can extend beyond the scalp and affects the folds besides the nose, ears, eyebrows, beard area, upper back and chest. Redness and itching of the skin is seen along with flaking which may be dry or yellowish and greasy in nature.

What causes Dandruff and Seborrhoeic Dermatitis?

  • • The exact cause of Dandruff and Seborrhoeic Dermatitis is unknown.
  • • Possible causes include increased oil production and secretion, increased numbers of normal skin yeasts and a genetic predisposition.
  • • Common triggers (factors that may worsen) include oily skin or scalp, emotional stress, weather (cold and dry), poor hygiene and infrequent washing or shampooing. Dietary factors do not play a role.
  • • Seborrhoeic Dermatitis is also more seen and more severe in HIV infection and Parkinson’s disease patients.

Is Seborrhoeic Dermatitis hereditary? Is it contagious?

  • • Seborrhoeic Dermatitis has a genetic predisposition and can be seen in other family members.
  • • Seborrhoeic Dermatitis is not contagious and is not transmissible to contacts or family members

How is Dandruff/Seborrhoeic Dermatitis diagnosed?

  • • Seborrhoeic Dermatitis is diagnosed by its clinical appearance and behavior.
  • • As some fungi are normal components of skin flora, its presence on microscopy of skin scrapings is not diagnostic.

Are there any laboratory tests to diagnose Dandruff/Seborrhoeic Dermatitis?

  • • Diagnosis of Seborrhoeic Dermatitis is chiefly on history and clinical examination.
  • • There are no conclusive laboratory tests to diagnose Seborrhoeic Dermatitis.
  • • Skin scrapings and biopsy are done to rule out other conditions which can resemble Seborrhoeic Dermatitis (ringworm, psoriasis).

How are anti-dandruff shampoos used?

  • • Different types of shampoos are prescribed for Dandruff.
  • • These shampoos be used at least twice a weekfor 3 to 4 weeks.
  • • Once applied the shampoo needs to be left on for 5to 7 minutes to ensure adequate time for action.
  • • All affected areas including the scalp, ears, face,and chest should also be washed with the therapeutic shampoo.

How can Seborrhoeic Dermatitis betreated?

  • • The treatment options include antidandruffshampoos, cleansers, anti-inflammatory creams/ lotions, antifungals and keratolytics.The choice of treatment depends on the sitesaffected, and extent of symptoms.
  • • Maintenance treatment is usually needed.

Can Seborrhoeic Dermatitis be cured? Can it recur?

  • • Seborrhoeic Dermatitis improves with treatment, but there is no permanent cure.
  • • Increase sebum production is an individual tendencyand can recur. Those who have a tendency todevelop Seborrhoeic Dermatitis recurrently require retreatment at frequent intervals.