1.      What is dandruff?

  • Dandruff is a condition where there is excessive shedding of dead scalp skin
  • Normal scalp skin renews itself about every 28 days
  • In dandruff there is rapid turnover and renewal of the scalp skin that takes place about every 11 days
  • Overgrowth of yeast-like fungus that lives on the scalp may cause or aggravate formation of dandruff
  • Other factors that might contribute to development of dandruff are:
    • Infrequent shampooing of the hair or inadequate rinsing of the scalp
    • Excessive use of hair sprays and gels
    • Improper use of hair coloring product
    • Increased oil production
    • Hormonal fluctuation
    • Stress
    • Suppressed immune system

2.      What are the symptoms?

  • Itchy, scaling scalp
  • Presence of white, oily looking flakes of dead skin on the hair and shoulders
  • Presence of white, oily looking flakes on your clothing

3.      How can one treat dandruff?

Use an anti-dandruff shampoo. Examples of anti-dandruff shampoo and their functions are:

  • Zinc pyrithione shampoo helps reduce fungus
  • Tar – based shampoo helps to slow cell turnover
  • Salicylic shampoo helps to eliminate scale
  • Selenium sulphide shampoo reduces cell turnover and controls growth of fungus
  • Ketoconazole shampoo is a broad-spectrum antifungal agent

4.      How can one prevent dandruff from occurring or recurring?

  • Shampoo your hair regularly especially if you have an oily scalp
  • Avoid frequent use of hairstyling products including :
    • Hairsprays, styling gels and mousses which will make your scalp more oily

5.      What are the other causes of excessive skin scaling?

Conditions Characteristics
Simple dry skin
  • Itchy
  • Smaller and less oily flakes
Seborrheic dermatitis
  • Skin looks red and greasy
  • Flaky white or yellow scales
  • Involves other areas rich in oil gland like eyebrows, back of your ears, nose and groin
  • Thick silvery scales
  • No hair loss
  • Areas commonly involved are scalp, knees, elbows and trunk
Contact dermatitis
  • Red, itchy scaling scalp
  • Associated with allergy to certain hair care products


Last Reviewed : 27 April 2012
Content Writer : Dr. Salmiah bt. Md. Sharif
Reviewer : Dr. Thiyagar Nadarajaw