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Dandruff is a common condition that will affect at least 1 in 2 persons in their lifetime. The small white flakes and irritation can shatter self-esteem and cost thousands in yearly treatment. Sometimes, people confuse dandruff for a condition called seborrheic dermatitis. By observing key differences, persons can tell which is affecting them and get the right treatment.
With dandruff, small pieces of dead skin flake off and appear in the head and on the shoulders. The body naturally sheds skin every second. These skin cells are invisible. However, in some people, these skin cells appear larger on the scalp. The flakes can seem unsightly and often has some social stigma attached to the issue. Besides flakes, persons with dandruff experience a dry, itchy scalp.
The real cause of dandruff is still unknown. Many people incorrectly point to poor hygiene as the main cause. Not shampooing enough will cause dandruff to appear more; However, hygiene is not the main reason. Other causes include harsh hair products, stress, and a poor diet. Researchers also attribute dandruff to the Malassezia fungus. The fungus interacts with the oils on the scalp which can cause an overreaction in some cases. The cause of this reaction could even be genetic. Persons with dandruff should seek help from a dermatologist.
Sometimes, what one assumes is dandruff can be seborrheic dermatitis. This condition affects about 1 in 3 persons worldwide. If dandruff is a mild reaction, seborrheic dermatitis is an extreme case. The inflammation worsens, causing harsh redness, flakiness, and a scaly scalp. Also, seborrheic dermatitis can happen anywhere on the body that has sebaceous glands. This includes the nose, mouth, back, and shoulders. There are even cases of seborrheic dermatitis under the armpits, ears, or chest area. The condition impacts the quality of life and needs medical help to manage.
Similar to dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis is a harsh reaction to fungi that naturally lives on all humans. This is common in infants and referred to as a cradle cap. Whereas in adults, stress, hormonal changes, and dry weather can cause flare-ups. Diseases like Parkinson’s, psoriasis and HIV can cause seborrheic dermatitis.
Unsure if the issue is dandruff or seborrheic dermatitis? Check for simple signs. Dandruff will appear as white, oily flakes at the root of the scalp. In most cases, dandruff may not cause itching. So a pharmacist can prescribe a medicated shampoo. However, if the flakes come with scaly patches on the scalp, this could be a sign of seborrheic dermatitis. Red patches around the nose and oily, tender skin are other early signs. Some cases may need stronger treatment like a corticosteroid. Seek help immediately if these symptoms pop up.
Both conditions can be treated with help from a medical professional. While both have similar symptoms, dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis differ in damage to the head and body. Know of the signs to know which one is the issue. There’s no known cure for both conditions. Dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis can impact persons socially. Using the right treatment reduces symptoms, keeping persons healthy and happy.