Dandruff (Pityriasis Simplex Capillitii)

What is Dandruff?

Dandruff or Pityriasis simplex capillitii as it is also called is a chronic scalp condition that is characterized by flaking of the skin. Dandruff is caused by skin cells that grow and die off too fast.

Malassezia is a common fungus that may be a contributor to the development of dandruff. Some experts believe that dandruff may also be caused by an overreaction of a person’s immune system to the fungus Malassezia. Dandruff tends to be embarrassing and difficult to treat.  It’s also believed that refraining from shampooing over a long period of time can result in the scalp becoming too oily and resulting in the condition of dandruff. Individuals dealing with certain skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis are more susceptible to developing dandruff.

Some studies found a specific correlation between levels of stress and dandruff and other experts also think that diet (sugary and fatty foods as well as fried and oily foods that create spikes in insulin) can be related to the presence of dandruff. So far, these studies have only suggested connections between lifestyle and dandruff but no compelling data seems to be definitive.


What are the Symptoms of Dandruff?

White oily-looking flakes of dead skin that usually appear on a person’s hair and shoulders that may also itch.

Dandruff Causes

Dandruff, also known as pityriasis simplex capillitii, is caused by a number of different factors. The main cause of this condition is the sufferer’s skin cells on the scalp being turned over more quickly than on someone without dandruff. When the air is dry, there are extreme changes in temperature or harsh detergents and hair products are used, the risk of dandruff is greater. Secretions from the oil glands of the scalp are known to cause some cases of dandruff. Others are caused by a sensitivity to environmental conditions such as the weather and certain chemicals coming into contact with the scalp.

Still, other dandruff cases are caused by an infection of the scalp by the malassezia fungus. Everyone has malassezia globosa fungi on their scalps, but some people are more susceptible to the enzymes it produces. Those enzymes break down the oil on the scalp and create a type of fat that triggers the faster turnover of skin cells. This results in clumps of dead skin that fall from the scalp.

How is Dandruff Treated?

The severity of the dandruff and an individual’s age should be considered before deciding on any course of treatment.

Treatment includes

Over-the-counter products for the scalp and various shampoos are available and can help to control dandruff but not cure it.  Most shampoos designed to combat dandruff may contain Ketoconazole, Zinc pyrithione, coal tar, salicylic acids, and Tea-tree oil.  It is recommended that dandruff shampoo be used every day until the dandruff is under control.

Dandruff Prevention

Preventing dandruff can be done in a number of ways. Because there are so many different causes of dandruff, it may take the sufferer a few tries before the correct prevention technique is found for his specific case of dandruff. There are a number of shampoos that are formulated to prevent dandruff and treat current cases. Some of these contain zinc pyrithione, a chemical that causes the turnover rate of skin cells to slow down. Others contain selenium sulfide which can wash away scalp oil. An anti-fungal ingredient, ketoconazole, is present in some shampoos. This type will disrupt malassezia fungi cell membranes. In addition, wash your hair with warm or cool water instead of hot to avoid irritating the scalp.