Dandruff (seborrhea): an annoying affection

Seborrhea is a common form of skin eczema that occurs in parts of the body with high oil (sebum) production. Body areas that are commonly affected include the scalp, ears, face, chest, and folds of skin, such as the underarms or the skin below breasts or overhanging abdominal folds. The cause of seborrhea is unknown, although a yeast that often lives on the skin may play a role.

One common manifestation of seborrhea that affects the scalp is dandruff. Scalp seborrhea can also present as thick, flaky, localized plaques of scale. On the face, seborrhea produces reddish-brown, dry-looking, or thick, greasy scales on the eyebrows, sides of the nose, and behind the ears. Reddish, scaly plaques may also appear in the folds of skin mentioned above.

Although the causes of dandruff are not known, its risk factors may include the following:

(1) Stress or fatigue
(2) Weather extremes
(3) Oily skin, or skin problems such as acne
(4) Infrequent shampoos or skin cleaning
(5) Using lotions that contain alcohol
(6) Obesity
(7) Neurologic conditions, including Parkinsons disease, head injury or stroke
(8) Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)

People with dandruff may try different ways to get rid of it, but the following practices don’t help dandruff at all:

(1) Moisturizing: Moisturizing lotions dont do much more than smooth out scales and make plaques look redder.

(2) Switching brands of shampoo: Shampoo doesnt cause dandruff. However, medicated shampoos can help.

(3) Changing hair-care routines: There is no right shampoo or conditioner. What is more important is the frequency with which these agents are used. As a rule, the more frequently one shampoos, the better the result.