In Medical Dermatology

Dandruff is a common condition that can leave the scalp inflamed and itchy. This can cause white flakes dusted across the hair. Although dandruff is not serious from a medical standpoint, it can be embarrassing. One out of every five people suffers from this scalp condition. A gentle shampoo can treat milder cases, but symptoms may return over time. Cases also vary depending on the person and the sensitivity of his or her skin. Understanding the causes of dandruff is a crucial step to treating it. Once you have narrowed down what is irritating your scalp enough to cause dandruff, you can treat it much easier. Here are some of the most common causes of dandruff and what to do about them.

Irritated or oily skin

Most people assume that people only people with a dry scalp suffer from dandruff. While dry skin can be a culprit, it is not the only one.

An oily scalp results from increased production of sebum, the natural oil on your scalp. This can lead to dandruff-producing conditions like seborrheic dermatitis, which is the name of eczema on the scalp.

If you suffer from seborrheic dermatitis, you can contact your dermatologist for various forms of treatment. Your doctor may have you test out over-the-counter treatments like dandruff shampoos and nonprescription remedies first.

If these treatments do not help, your doctor can supply topical ointments and creams that control inflammation. There is also an anti-fungal medication in a pill form if no other options seem to work.


Some people believe that dandruff becomes worse the more often you shampoo, but that is not the case. In fact, not shampooing enough can make your dandruff worse. It causes more oil and dead skin to sit on top of your scalp, worsening dandruff. A medicated shampoo can help.

Over-the-counter shampoos are at most drug stores and grocery stores. Shampoos that contain ketoconazole, selenium sulfide or zinc are the best at treating dandruff. You can also use a dandruff conditioner if your hair is more brittle than normal.

Yeast-like fungus (Malassezia)

The major culprit of dandruff is a fungus called Malassezia. This fungus exists on most adults’ scalps. It feeds on the oils on your scalp, breaking it down and leaving oleic acid in its place. Many people are sensitive to oleic acid. The body then reacts to this acid by increasing the speed at which skin cells renew. It is an attempt to rid the scalp of the irritant and can cause flakes. The flakes are dead skin cells that visibly accumulate on the scalp or even shoulders.

This is why a dandruff shampoo and conditioner can be so useful in treating dandruff. Regular shampoos struggle to clean out all the buildup that causes dandruff. Medical shampoos have the proper ingredients to do that.

Dry skin

If dry skin is causing your dandruff, it can be easy to tell because other parts of your body will likely be dry as well. Dry skin can worsen throughout the year due to temperature, and the same goes for your scalp as well. However, a dry scalp that causes dandruff is treatable, similar to dry skin anywhere else. You simply need to moisturize, especially as you are shampooing more often.

There are several hair products out there catered to a dry scalp. A healing hair mask will certainly help add moisture to your scalp. However, it is important to pick a product that is free of irritants.

Haircare products

Much like any other part of your body, the scalp is susceptible to irritation and allergic reactions. If your scalp has a sensitivity to a hair care product, contact dermatitis can develop on the scalp. Contact dermatitis is the skin’s reaction to direct contact with an irritant, and it will likely result in dandruff. If you notice your scalp becomes irritated or sore after using certain products, it could be due to a sensitivity to the product.

It is crucial to stop using the product immediately. If you are not sure which product it is, you can use the process of elimination to determine which one it is.

Other skin conditions

Skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis can appear in the scalp as well, causing dandruff. Depending on the severity of these skin conditions, over-the-counter treatments may not cover it. Check with your dermatologist before trying anything new. The wrong products can lead to skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis worsening.

Treatment for dandruff in Columbia

Consult your dermatologist before attempting to treat these skin conditions with home remedies.

Although there is not a cure for dandruff, there are many treatments, no matter what your causes of dandruff are. Those treatments are available in most drug stores. Finding a treatment that works best for you and your scalp may include a lot of trial and error, but the result will be worth it. If all else fails, contact the dermatology specialists at Columbia Skin Clinic today about prescription options that can help with dandruff.

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