Dandruff, also known as scurf or Pityriasis simplex capillitii, affects the scalp and causes flakes of skin to appear - it is a common condition. Our skin cells are forever renewing themselves. When the skin cells on our scalp are renewed the old ones are pushed to the surface and out of the scalp. For a person with dandruff the renewal is faster, meaning more dead skin is shed, making the dandruff more noticeable. Dandruff can also occur if the scalp is frequently exposed to extreme temperatures.
Dandruff can be chronical (long-term) or the result of certain triggers. People with dandruff may also experience irritation and redness on the scalp. Excessive flaking may be caused by an underlying illness or condition, such as psoriasis, a fungal infection (Malassezia), seborrheic dermatitis, or even head lice. Some individuals with severe dandruff may have social or self-esteem problems. Therefore, treatment may be important for both physiological and psychological reasons.
A significant number of people with dandruff find it improves as they get older. It is estimated that about 50 percent of people in Western Europe and North America suffer from dandruff. Dandruff is more common in men than in women, and in people with oily skin. Some studies have suggested that diets that are too salty, sugary or spicy and accompanied by excessive alcohol may exacerbate dandruff. Dandruff does not contribute to hair loss.