Dandruff is a common scalp condition that causes flakes of skin to appear on the scalp and hair. It is a harmless but often embarrassing condition that can be treated with over-the-counter or prescription medications.
Dandruff is caused by a combination of things, including seborrheic dermatitis, dry skin, and fungal overgrowth. In people with seborrheic dermatitis, the skin overproduces oils, which can cause the scalp to become dry and flaky. The fungus Malassezia is also a common cause of dandruff, and can overgrow if the scalp is too dry or if the person is taking antibiotics or other medications that suppress the immune system.
Dandruff can be treated with over-the-counter shampoos that contain zinc pyrithione, selenium sulfide, or ketoconazole. If these shampoos do not work, your doctor may prescribe a stronger medication, such as ketoconazole shampoo, topical corticosteroids, or antifungal medications.
In addition to using a medication, there are a few things you can do to help prevent dandruff from occurring. First, make sure to bathe or shower every day and shampoo your hair at least every other day. Second, avoid using harsh or drying hair products, such as hair spray, gel, or colorants. Finally, try to keep your scalp cool and dry by using a cool air dryer instead of a hot one.