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What Causes Dandruff?

Updated on November 27, 2016

Dandruff is the dead scalp skin that appears as small white or yellowish flakes entangled in the hair. Dandruff occurs in most normal individuals and is usually not a sign of skin disease.

In all healthy people the uppermost layer of skin is constantly being shed. Over most of the body the shed skin cells are not noticeable, but in the scalp the natural oiliness of the skin prevents the cell clumps from breaking into smaller particles and the dense growth of hair prevents the flakes from being readily dispersed.

Sometimes a mild inflammation of the scalp increases the production of dandruff. The most common cause of this condition is seborrheic dermatitis, a disorder in which the skin develops scaly red patches. Sometimes these patches may extend beyond the scalp and spread over the face. Occasionally they also appear on other parts of the body.

Normally occurring dandruff can often be reduced by frequent washing and brushing of the hair and scalp. Seborrheic dermatitis can usually be treated with special shampoos and the application of corticosteroid preparations. Because the condition is chronic, treatment must usually be continued over a long period of time.

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