Dandruff is a common, non-contagious skin condition that affects the skin on top of the head (scalp), and cause dead skin to fall off excessively in the form of flakes. It occurs due to an increase in the activity of cells rejuvinating themselves, causing dead cells to come away from the scalp.
Dandruff is more common in men than in women, and is most common in young adults over the age of twenty years. It is very uncommon in younger children.
Why dandruff occurs is not yet properly understood, but it is sometimes due to exposure to a certain kind of fungus, called malassezia. Hormones have also been implicated in dandruff, which would explain its increased incidence after puberty and during early adulthood.
People with dry skin and pre-existing skin conditions are more prone to developing dandruff. Cold climate often aggravates dandruff.
The commonest symptom of dandruff, and possibly the most annoying, is the appearance of dead, flaky skin on scalp and in your head.
Some individuals may also experience itching with it, although it is not that common, and is not too troublesome.
A certain degree of hair loss may also be associated with dandruff.
It is always better to visit your doctor before starting any kind of treatment for dandruff, to make sure there is no other underlying skin condition that requires immediate attention.
Medicated shampoos are available over the counter, and those that contain zinc pyrithione, salicylic acid, selenium sulfide and ketoconazole are all effective in treating dandruff.
Often times dandruff may recur, and may require more than once cycles of treatment.