Persistent flaking and redness of the eyebrows, scalp and areas around the nose is called seborrheic dermatitis. It can be itchy, especially on the scalp and in and around the ears. Seborrhea typically comes and goes, and can be influenced by anxiety or mood changes, weather changes and poor sleep habits. The condition can be easily managed with topical prescription creams and/or shampoos.
Dandruff has various causes, each requiring a different treatment. Causes of dandruff range from infrequent shampooing to overgrowth of malassezia, a yeast-like fungus. Though it is embarrassing, dandruff can almost always be controlled. For simple dandruff, more frequent shampoos can alleviate the problem. Several over-the-counter dandruff treatments are available for stubborn dandruff symptoms. These shampoos treat the condition with different medications. Coal tar shampoos treat dandruff and psoriasis by slowing the time it takes for skin cells to die and flake off. Shampoos containing zinc pyrithione control seborrheic dermatitis by reducing the amount of fungus on the scalp. Salicylic acid shampoos, or scalp scrubs, remove the scales but leave the scalp dry. Conditioning after using one of these products will lessen the dryness. Many people find that tea tree oil is effective in controlling dandruff. This alternative to medicated shampoos can be found at natural food stores as well as discount retail stores.
Symptoms of dandruff usually appear in the teenage years, when hormones are active and skin is more likely to be oily. Though it is not contagious, finding the most effective treatment quickly is important for teenagers due to the social stigma of dandruff. Seborrheic dermatitis is a common condition shared by infants. Known in babies as cradle cap, this form of dandruff is treated by loosening the flakes with a soft brush and shampooing the child’s hair frequently.
Most cases of dandruff are not severe and can be treated at home with a medicated shampoo. However, if shampoos are not effective, Dr. Zizmor can determine the cause of the flaking and help treat the problem.