From skin to scalp | Daily News

From skin to scalp

When those pesky white flakes become a source of embarrassment and agony, then it is time for you to do something about it. Dandruff is a vexing problem that has managed to unite over half the adult population across the world - beyond gender, age and race. The good news is that it can be treated naturally and effectively. So go ahead, read on to find the remedy that best suits your hair.

What is dandruff?

Dandruff is caused when the skin isn’t exfoliating properly. Dead skin gets stuck on the scalp and begins to flake and itch.

Dandruff is the common name for seborrheic dermatitis on the scalp - a condition that causes red, flaky and itchy skin as a result of too much yeast that is present on oily areas of the skin. The only difference is that dandruff is restricted to the scalp, while seborrheic dermatitis can affect other areas of the body.

The most common causes of dandruff

Dandruff can have

several causes, including:

* Irritated, oily skin (seborrheic dermatitis): This condition, one of the most frequent causes of dandruff, is marked by red, greasy skin covered with flaky white or yellow scales. Seborrheic dermatitis may affect your scalp and other areas rich in oil glands, such as your eyebrows, the sides of your nose and the backs of your ears, your breastbone (sternum), your groin area, and sometimes your armpits.

* Not shampooing often enough: If you don't regularly wash your hair, oils and skin cells from your scalp can build up, causing dandruff.

* A yeast-like fungus (malassezia): Malassezia lives on the scalps of most adults. But, for some, it irritates the scalp and can cause more skin cells to grow. The extra skin cells die and fall off, making them appear white and flaky in your hair or on your clothes. Why malassezia irritates some scalps isn't a known fact.

* Dry skin: Flakes from dry skin are generally smaller and less oily than those from other causes of dandruff. Redness or inflammation is unlikely. You'll probably have dry skin on other parts of the body, such as your legs and arms, too.

* Sensitivity to hair care products (contact dermatitis): Sometimes sensitivities to certain ingredients in hair care products or hair dyes can cause a red, itchy, and scaly scalp.

Factors that might put you at risk

Almost anyone can have dandruff,

but certain factors can make you more susceptible:

* Age: Dandruff usually begins in young adulthood and continues through middle age. That doesn't mean older adults don't get dandruff. For some people, the problem can be life long.

* Being male: Since more men have dandruff, some researchers think male hormones may play a role in putting you at risk on getting dandruff.

* Oily hair and scalp: Malassezia feeds on oils in your scalp. For that reason, having excessively oily skin and hair makes you more prone to dandruff.

* Certain illnesses: For reasons that aren't clear, adults with neurological diseases, such as Parkinson's disease, are more likely to develop seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff. So are people with HIV infection, or those who have compromised immune systems from other conditions.

Is dandruff genetic?

While many hair issues such as graying, thinning, or balding can be caused by your genetics, thankfully dandruff isn't one of them. This flaky skin on your scalp is the result of malassezia, a yeast-like fungus that happens to be found on the scalps of many healthy individuals.

Is dandruff contagious?

Dandruff is not contagious or infectious. However, dandruff may get worse if certain yeasts and/or fungi that normally occur in small numbers on the scalp are increased in numbers.

The increase in these microbes can contribute to increased flaking in dandruff. Since most of these organisms are already present on the skin, they are not considered to be contagious causes of dandruff.

Compiled by
Ruwini Jayawardana  


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