Dandruff Facts : What You Should Know

What is dandruff? Dandruff is simply flakes of dead skin that form on the scalp. The official medical term for dandruff is “Pityriasis capitis,” and is often accompanied by itching, redness, and irritation. It’s normal for skin cells to die and flake off, so a small amount of flaking is normal and quite common, but some people experience an unusually large amount of flaking and need to take steps to reduce the problem.
Can dandruff be cured? No, but it can be treated with a medicated shampoo like Selsun Blue to control the scaling, flaking and itching of the scalp associated with dandruff.
How can i treat dandruff? It is important to not simply wash away the dandruff flakes, but to treat the source that is irritating your scalp and causing the flakes to form. Selsun Blue targets the source of dandruff, which is the scalp, to help control flakes and itch.
Will dandruff go away as I get older? As we age, our bodies produce less oil in the skin and scalp. Because of this, many people have less dandruff when they get older.
What are flakes? The white flakes that appear in your hair and fall onto your clothes are actually clumps of dead skin cells that have been shed by your scalp. Everyone sheds dead skin cells from the scalp, but various factors can speed up the usual rate of shedding dead skin. In a healthy scalp, new skin cells are continually formed at the lowest level of the skin and move toward the outer surface. When they get to the surface, the skin cells die and shed. The movement of these cells to the outer layer usually takes about 28 days. But when there’s a problem, this process occurs between 7 and 21 days. Instead of shedding individual cells that are virtually unnoticeable, the dead skin cells are shed in large flakes consisting of hundreds or thousands of cells clumped together with body oils.
What causes dandruff?
  • Malassezia: This fungus is the most common cause of dandruff, and is found naturally on the skin surface of almost everyone (including people who don’t have dandruff). It feeds on the oils and fatty secretions of the sebaceous glands in the skin and scalp. It doesn’t always cause problems, but sometimes it grows out of control. This can irritate the skin on your scalp and cause more skin cells to grow. The extra skin cells die and fall off, clumping together with oil from your hair and scalp, making them appear white, flaky and visible in your hair or on your clothes. The areas of skin with many sebaceous glands include the scalp, face, and upper part of the body. When Malassezia grows too rapidly, the natural renewal of cells is disturbed and dandruff appears along with irritation and itching. Exactly what causes an overgrowth of malassezia isn’t known, although many factors may contribute to the development of dandruff, such as having too much oil on your scalp, changes in your hormones, stress, illness, neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, a suppressed immune system, not shampooing often enough, and extra sensitivity to the malassezia fungus.
  • Dry skin: Cold, dry winters are notorious for bringing on dandruff or making it worse. Dry, cold air often dries out the skin resulting in itching and flaking. Flakes from dry skin are generally smaller and less oily than those from other causes of dandruff.
  • Seborrheic dermatitis (Irritated, oily skin): This condition is a frequent cause of dandruff, and is marked by red, greasy skin covered with flaky white or yellow scales.
  • Psoriasis: This skin disorder causes an accumulation of dead skin cells that form thick, silvery scales.
  • Not shampooing often enough: If you don’t regularly wash your hair, oils and skin cells from your scalp can build up, causing dandruff.
  • Contact dermatitis (sensitivity to haircare products): Some people have individual sensitivities to certain haircare products or hair dyes that can cause a red, itchy, scaling scalp. Shampooing too often or using too many styling products may also irritate your scalp, causing dandruff.
  • Mild dandruff may be caused by overactive sebaceous glands, which are triggered by hormonal imbalance or stress.
  • Other causes include family history, food allergies, excessive perspiration, use of alkaline soaps and yeast infections. Even the season of the year can contribute to the problem. Symptoms of dandruff can also be aggravated by exposure to dust, UV light, harsh shampoos, and hair dyes.
Who is at the highest risk of getting dandruff? It is most common for people in their 20s. Men tend to have more dandruff than women and it affects all ethnic groups equally.
How many people get dandruff? Even though everybody has the fungus on the skin that typically causes dandruff, only about 1 in 5 people have noticeable dandruff. It’s estimated that half of all people will have noticeable dandruff at some time in their lives.
Back to Dandruff facts