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Part 1: What is Dandruff? What are the Symptoms of Dandruff? - August 2010

DandruffPart 1: What is Dandruff? What are the Symptoms of Dandruff?

Dandruff is: The presence, in varying amounts, of white or gray scales in the hair of the scalp, due to excessive or normal branny exfoliation of the epidermis
-according to MediLexicon's medical dictionary

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.

Seborrheic dermatitis

This is a skin condition in which the skin becomes inflamed or flaky. Seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp is a severe form of dandruff. When it affects the scalp most people refer to it as dandruff. When babies have it, it is referred to as cradle cap. Seborrheic dermatitis causes larger, greasier flakes than most other types of dandruff. Seborrheic dermatitis affects not only the scalp, but the skin in other parts of the body too.

What are the signs and symptoms of dandruff?

The hallmark sign of dandruff, or seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp, is white flakes on the scalp and in the hair. If the person is wearing dark clothes, the flakes will be more noticeable when they fall on their shoulders. The scalp may also feel itchy, tight, or sore.

Signs and symptoms in babies and children

Often referred to as cradle cap, signs and symptoms may appear when the baby is between two weeks and six months of age, especially between the ages of three to eight weeks - this usually disappears after a few weeks; in some cases it may take months. Although cradle cap may be alarming to parents, it is not dangerous.

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