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Dandruff is an excessive flaking of skin on the scalp, with some skin flakes caught amongst the hair. Shedding of surface skin cells is normal, as they are gradually replaced by cells formed at the base of the epidermis which then move towards the surface. This process takes about a month. An increase in the number of cells being shed, which tend to clump together, is called dandruff.

Dandruff does not occur in children so hormones are thought to play a part in causing the condition. Recent research indicates that the yeast Pityrosporum is the causative agent in seborrhoeic dermatitis (a form of dandruff). If the scalp is excessively dry, the dandruff will appear as dry, flaking skin. Seborrhoeic dermatitis differs from a dry scalp as it includes oiliness, severe flaking with redness, itching and inflammation. Other conditions, such as psoriasis and eczema may also affect the scalp. For further details, see also psoriasis, atopic eczema.

Treatment of dandruff involves removal of the scales from both the scalp and those that are adhering to the hair shaft. In many cases the scalp is itchy so an anti-pruritic is indicated to prevent scratching which may lead to secondary infection.

An anti- fungal agent is necessary due to the involvement of Pityrosporum. As dandruff tends to recur, it is important to control it first and then use a mild, medicated shampoo in a regular routine to help prevent recurrence.

Advice for the Patient

As with all skin conditions that involve pruritus, it is important to advise the patient not to scratch. Scratching can introduce secondary infection to the area leading to a more complicated condition to treat. Scratching will also increase the inflammation. As dandruff is a condition that tends to recur, the patient should be made aware of this and advised to use a maintenance shampoo to help prevent recurrence.

Products to Help

HairScience Anti Dandruff Shampoo is a broad-spectrum anti-fungal, anti-pruritic treatment for scalp disorders such as dandruff - mild seborrhoeic dermatitis. It is an effective anti-dandruff shampoo yet gentle enough for regular use. It contains gentle surfactants that work synergistically to provide effective cleansing without irritation. HairScience Anti-dandruff Shampoo is effective against Pityrosporum ovale widely thought to be the causative agent in dandruff and seborrhoeic dermatitis. Use twice daily for effective dandruff treatment.

Sebitar is a scalp cleansing treatment for severe, persistent dandruff, seborrhoeic dermatitis and scalp psoriasis. Sebitar contains coal tar solution and pine tar to relieve severe itching and reduce inflammation of the scalp. Sebitar also helps to control excess flaking of skin cells. Due to its anti-fungal properties, Sebitar is effective against Pityrosporum. The gentle formulation leaves hair soft, shining and manageable and has a pH of 6 to protect the cuticle of the hair, preventing damage. Sebitar may be used daily if required and is safe for permed or tinted hair. Follow treatment with SebiRinse to condition the hair.

SebiRinse is a conditioning treatment especially formulated for use after Sebitar. SebiRinse smooths and protects the hair surface, helps prevent dryness and tangles and removes any tar odours remaining on the hair. SebiRinse restores hair shine and manageability without waxy build-up on the hair or scalp.

Products to Consider