Dandruff is visible flakes of dead skin being continually shed by the scalp. When the body grows new cells, they start on the lower layers of the skin and rise upwards. Similar to how baby teeth are pushed out by adult teeth, these new skin cells will push off the dead ones on the surface of the scalp. Under normal conditions, the shed cells are too small to be seen with the naked eye.
In dandruff, the process of skin turnover is accelerated. Furthermore, the dead cells are shed in clumps, making them big enough to be seen. Men are more likely to experience dandruff than women, but almost half of adults will have it at some point in their life.
Dandruff can be an embarrassing and chronic condition that is not always treatable by regular products. Depending on the cause of your dandruff, additional consultation and action by a professional could be advised. Below are some things to consider in regards to whether your dandruff requires professional assistance or clinical scalp treatment.
Redness and Flaking Elsewhere
If your dandruff is accompanied by redness in the scalp or flaking and redness in other areas of the face, such as behind the ear or around the nose, it may be a sign of a condition called seborrheic dermatitis.
The exact cause of this condition is not known, but the most likely source is currently believed to be a reduced resistance to yeasts of the Malassezia family. These yeasts are commonly found on the human scalp and feed on the oils of the skin. They produce oleic acid, which irritates the scalp and leads to redness and dandruff.
Psoriasis is a genetic condition where skin cells rapidly build up on the surface of the body, creating white or silvery patches. If your dandruff is accompanied by inflammation or itching and patches forming on the elbows and knees, the cause is likely psoriasis. Approximately two to four percent of people have this condition.
Allergens and Sensitivity
Contact dermatitis is a type of skin reaction that can trigger dandruff. It results from the scalp being exposed to certain allergens and substances; the chemicals found in many topical medications, cosmetics, and hair care products are among those known to cause contact dermatitis reactions in sensitive individuals. In rare cases, this can develop into a chronic condition, with symptoms occurring even after the offending allergen is removed.
At the Canadian Institute of Hair and Scalp Specialists, we provide the best dandruff and scalp treatment methods in Toronto. Our licensed chemist has worked hard on developing all-natural vitamin and herbal solutions to control dandruff, regardless of the cause. We offer specialty treatments like a pre-shampoo cleanser to help clear bacteria from the scalp, non-allergenic anti-dandruff shampoos, and keratin cream to help with psoriasis and the itchiness that tends to accompany these conditions. Click here to view our treatment products or call to book a free and private consultation at our scalp clinic so you can get a better understanding of your hair and scalp needs.
Ashbee, H.R. and Evans, E.G., “Immunology of Diseases Associated with Malassezia Species.” Clinical Microbiology Reviews 15, no. 1 (2002): 21-57; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11781265.
Schwartz, R. A. et al, “Seborrheic Dermatitis: An Overview.” American Family Physician 74, no. 1 (2006): 125-32; https://www.aafp.org/afp/2006/0701/p125.html.
“Dandruff.” Mayo Clinic web site; https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dandruff/basics/definition/con-20023690, last accessed April 15, 2015.
Steam, M., “Dandruff,” EmbarrassingProblems.com; https://www.embarrassingproblems.com/problem/dandruff, last accessed April 15, 2015.