Dandruff and Seborrheic Dermatitis

W. Steven Pray, PhD, RPh, Professor of Nonprescription Products and Devices, School of Pharmacy, Southwestern Oklahoma State University, Weatherford, OK

US Pharmacist. 2001;26(4) 

In This Article

Dandruff

Dandruff is a condition of less severity than seborrheic dermatitis. If it is left untreated, the patient will not experience any further symptoms. Although some patients may complain of a minor itching from time to time, its effects are entirely cosmetic. It does not cause or result from inflammation, and it is not allergic in origin.

Scaling of dandruff is large clumps of dry, white or gray scales that are easily visible. An examination of the scalp shows that borders are indistinct, but there are often several roundish patches from which loose cells are shed. The crown is often a prime location for cell loss.

Dandruff is uncommon in children ages 2-10, but the incidence begins to rise precipitously as patients approach puberty. From that time, dandruff incidence rises even more rapidly until patients reach their early twenties, when it begins to fall. The number of affected people drops slowly until it becomes uncommon in middle-aged patients and the elderly. There is no gender preference. As a male begins to lose hair as the result of androgenic stimulation (androgenetic alopecia), bald spots are typically dandruff-free.

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