Although it usually cases little more harm than itching, dandruff can look unsightly and cause a great deal of embarrassment. Fortunately most cases of dandruff are easy to treat.
Dandruff is an excessive scaling of the dead skin of the scalp and other parts of the body. It forms part of what doctors call a seborrheic tendencyâ€”an overproduction of sebum, the natural oil secreted by glands in the skin. The condition can affect all the areas where hair grows, most commonly the scalp but occasionally also the eyebrows, the chest, and the groin.
In the great majority of cases of dandruff, there is no known cause. However, there are indications that heredity, diet, and upset in the body’s hormonal balance may be contributory factors. Stress and severe emotional upheaval can make dandruff worse.
The excessive greasiness of an adolescent’s skin is also a well-known cause of dandruff. Campers who are unable to wash their hair regularly may suddenly develop it, as may swimmers who bathe in salt water without wearing swimming caps.
Etiology of Dandruff
The exact reason for the accelerated cell turnover that causes dandruff (and other hyper-proliferative skin disorders) is unknown; causes such as diet, hormones, and vitamin deficiencies have been explored with little result. There does not appear to be an association between oiliness of the scalp and dandruff.
Increasingly, research on the etiology of dandruff has focused on the role of a fungus normally found on the human scalp and skin (Malassezia furfur, a dimorphic lipophilic fungus variously referred to as Malasseiza ovalis or by the name of its yeast form, Pityrosporum ovale or Pityrosporum orbiculare).
This organism exerts a lipase activity that allows it to reduce sebum triglycerides to free fatty acids, which in turn induces scaling. A higher number of organisms increase the severity of dandruff. This theoretical etiology may also explain the otherwise puzzling worsening of dandruff in the winter, since fungal organisms may thrive in the warmth and moisture produced on the scalp by sweating while wearing caps and hats.
Several trigger factors have been proposed to explain why in selected patients M. furfur transforms from a commensal (an organism that lives in a symbiotic relationship with another without harming it) to a noninvasive pathogenic organism, including a genetic predisposition, emotional stress, changes in the quantity or quality of sebum (an increase in wax esters and short chain fatty acids), increased alkalinity of the skin, and occlusion of the skin in the scalp.
Manifestations of Dandruff
The major manifestations of dandruff are scaling and occasional pruritis. The rapidity of cell turnover in dandruff prevents complete keratinization of desquamated (shed) cells, which causes dry, white or gray flakes to accumulate on the scalp in small, round patches. Dandruff flakes brush away painlessly as patients scratch them or as they are disturbed by hair brushing, putting on clothes, etc. Some flakes may also cling to hair until it is washed. The crown of the head is the most common location for dandruff, although the entire scalp may be affected. Bare scalp areas, such as those caused by male pattern baldness, are not affected by dandruff.
The borders of dandruff scaling are indistinct, as it is a diffuse condition. Also, although patients may complain of pruritis in more severe cases, inflammation is not a major component of dandruff. Dandruff is more severe from October through December and milder in the summerâ€”a seasonal occurrence that aids in recognition.
Tinea of the scalp (superficial fungal infection requiring prescription medications) can mimic dandruff. Persistent dandruff unresponsive to nonprescription products should be referred to a dermatologist for evaluation.
The only serious complication occurs if cracks in the skin open and crusted areas become infected, leading to impetigo, a contagious skin disease. Occasionally dandruff can turn into eczema- the inflammation and redness worsen and the skin discharges a clear fluid. People with severe dandruff affecting the skin of the ears may develop Otitis externa, an infection in the outer ear canal.
Dandruff should not be confused with psoriasis (isolated tiny patches of scaly skin) or exfoliative dermatitis (scaling all over the body), which is a serious condition that needs hospital treatment.
Prognosis of Dandruff
Dandruff is not a serious condition but left untreated it can be unsightly and embarrassing. The symptoms of mild dandruff can usually be controlled by shampooing daily with a mild hypoallergenic shampoo and scrubbing the scalp thoroughly. For more severe cases of dandruff, patients can self treat the condition with several medications that suppress cell turnover. Depending on a patient’s age, cell turnover tends to return to an abnormal rate once treatment is stopped, and dandruff scaling will begin again.
Homeopathic treatment of Dandruff
Homeopathic treatment Dandruff – Homeopathy is one of the most popular holistic systems of medicine. The selection of remedy is based upon the theory of individualization and symptoms similarity by using holistic approach. This is the only way through which a state of complete health can be regained by removing all the sign and symptoms from which the patient is suffering. The aim of homeopathy is not only to treat Dandruff but to address its underlying cause and individual susceptibility. As far as therapeutic medication is concerned, several remedies are available to cure Dandruff symptoms that can be selected on the basis of cause, sensations and modalities of the complaints. For individualized remedy selection and treatment, the patient should consult a qualified homeopathic doctor in person. There are following remedies which are helpful in the treatment of Dandruff.
Sanicula: – Scaly dandruff over the scalp, eye-brows and other hairy parts.
Phosphorus: – Copious; falls out in clouds. Falling off of hair in bunches. Itching of scalp
Graphites: – Herpetic dandruff (dandruff accompanied with eczema or other eruptions). Scalp scaly with distressing itching, humid, Falling of hair, Burning on vertex
Calcaria Sul. – Dandruff on the scalp causes eruptions with thick yellow crusts; eczema; also pimples due to dandruff; falling of hair.
Thuja: – White scaly dandruff; hair dry to falls out.
Psorinum: – Dandruff smells badly.
Arsenic Alb.:– In debilitated subjects. Patients with fair skin. Scalp itches intolerably; circular patches on bare spots; dry scales; nightly burning and itching.
Acid Flour: – Dry scurfy irritable scalp with falling off of hair.
Mezerium: – With great itching and loss of hair