Dandruff (Seborrheic Dermatitis)

Seborrheic Dermatitis (Dandruff)

Seborrheic dermatitis, or dandruff, is a long term and common skin condition that affects the scalp. Dandruff is not contagious and although not harmful to health, it can be embarrassing and uncomfortable. While treatment is not required for the condition, it can help minimize uncomfortable symptoms.

Symptoms of Dandruff

The common symptoms of dandruff are the white or yellowish flakes that are noticeable on the scalp. The flakes can vary in size. The symptoms can worsen with season change and, the exact cause of seborrheic dermatitis is unknown.

One theory is the buildup of oil secretions on the skin begins to harden and turn into the visible flakes typically seen in dandruff. This buildup can then harbor bacteria, yeast or fungus, and other irritating debris, which in turn causes a skin reaction. The result is the greasy, flaky, itchy patches typical of seborrheic dermatitis.

Other symptoms include:

  • Dandruff or flakes in eyebrows or facial hair
  • Greasy skin patches that are crusty or flakey
  • Itching or stinging
  • Red skin

Treatment for Dandruff

While dandruff is not harmful and treatment is not required, it can be uncomfortable, embarrassing, and even cause anxiety.

Treatment can include over the counter shampoos. When those are not helpful, other treatments are available. Medically trained professionals can help determine the best treatment based on symptoms.

Prescription-strength topical steroid is an effective topical cream that can be used to treat affected areas of the scalp. These are available in gels, foams and lotions.

Prescription-Strength Anti-fungal shampoos, foams, gels and lotions can be used to lessen the symptoms when used as an alternating combination.

Anti-fungal medication may be recommended.

Bacteria-fighting gels and cream may be applied once daily to reduce symptoms.

Phototherapy is a treatment that uses ultraviolet light, usually administered by a laser, to decrease the inflammation in the affected areas.

Multiple treatments are available to those who suffer from seborrheic dermatitis. While the symptoms are not harmful to the health, they can be uncomfortable and a hassle when grooming.

A medically-trained professional can recommend an effective form of treatment for the condition. For a professional consultation, call the Skin and Cancer Center of Scottsdale at (480) 596-1110.