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Dandruff is a medical condition known as seborrheic dermatitis. It causes flaky skin on the face and upper body. The term dermatitis means the inflammation of skin. Also, the term seborrheic means it affects the sebaceous glands or oil glands for the skin. Dandruff most often occurs among young adults. In addition, emotional stress can aggravate dandruff as well. Contrary to belief, a lack of cleanliness does not cause seborrheic dermatitis. Cradle cap is a similar condition that babies have, which usually clears within a few months. Dandruff prescription is available if antifungal creams (anti-yeast) don’t help.
The exact cause of seborrheic dermatitis is unknown. It is not just a simple skin infection and is not contagious, i.e. one cannot catch this condition from others. An antifungal shampoo and/or an antifungal cream usually clears dandruff and rash.
Most skin glands that make the oil (sebum) can get affected. Thus this condition is more common in greasy areas of the skin such as the scalp, forehead, chest, face (T Zone- nose and eyebrows), armpits and groin. In mild cases – bad dandruff may be all that occurs. Dandruff is scaling of the scalp that happens because of seborrheic dermatitis. The scalp may also become itchy. Mild patches of flaky skin may also develop on the face, and in worse cases- a rash also develops. The scalp also becomes itchy. Medical investigation is unnecessary. The typical symptoms and rash are good enough to confirm dandruff.
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Commonly used treatments include the following:
Any antifungal shampoo such as ketoconazole treats the scalp, eyebrows and other hairy areas. This dandruff prescription shampoo removes the fungal infection. Thus, curing the skin. One can apply antifungal shampoo twice a week. Leave the shampoo in your hair for about five minutes before rinsing off. In mild cases, a normal anti-dandruff shampoo like Head & Shoulders® that contains zinc pyrithione or coal tar may clear dandruff. An antifungal cream can treat dandruff in other parts of the body. It often takes 2-4 weeks to clear dandruff or rash completely. Hence, continue using the cream or shampoo to prevent reoccurrence. Also, avoid cosmetic products that contain alcohol as well.
- Besides using antifungal shampoo, scalp softener can help too.
- Also, using a mild steroid cream or steroid scalp lotion can help in severe cases. Doctors recommend using steroid cream if the skin or scalp is inflamed. Steroid creams and lotions dampen inflammation and reduce the redness and itch.
- A 5-day course of antifungal tablets if the dandruff is not clearing with the help of an antifungal cream.
- Light treatment, known as phototherapy, with ultraviolet B rays cures severe cases.
Often, seborrheic dermatitis reoccurs in a few weeks after a course of treatment. Also, doctors treat each dandruff episode as it occurs. Once the symptoms have gone with treatment, the following may help to keep the condition from recurring. For instance:
- For the scalp– continue to use a dandruff prescription anti-yeast (antifungal) shampoo such as ketoconazole once every 1-2 weeks. Leave on the scalp for five minutes before rinsing.
- For the body– regular baths with soap and water help to remove the greasy sebum from the body. Some people may need to use an antifungal cream 1-2 times a week on the affected areas of the skin.