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Dandruff

Dandruff is a common skin condition. It's not harmful and you cannot catch it.

Check if it's dandruff

Dandruff causes white or grey flakes of skin to appear on the scalp and in the hair

The flakes are often more noticeable in darker hair and if they fall from your scalp on to your shoulders.

Your scalp may also feel dry and itchy.

How to treat dandruff yourself

Use an anti-dandruff shampoo. There are several different types you can buy from pharmacies or supermarkets.

Look for shampoo containing one of these ingredients:

  • zinc pyrithione
  • salicylic acid
  • selenium sulphide (or selenium sulfide)
  • ketoconazole
  • coal tar

Your pharmacist can tell you how to use the shampoo.

Use the shampoo for a month to see if your dandruff improves. You might need to try more than one type to find one that works for you.

Causes of dandruff

Dandruff is not caused by poor hygiene, although it may be more obvious if you do not wash your hair regularly.

Stress and cold weather may also make dandruff worse.

A list of conditions that cause dandruff and the main symptoms

Symptoms

Possible causes

scaly, itchy and red patches on skin on scalp, face and other areas of the body

seborrheic dermatitis

red or silver rash on scalp, sometimes with patchy hair loss

tinea capitis, known as ringworm

dry, red, flaky and very itchy skin on areas of the body

eczema

red, inflamed (irritated) skin; may also have blisters and cracked skin – reaction to products such as hair dye, sprays, gels or mousses

contact dermatitis

red, flaky, crusty and sore patches of skin covered with silvery scales

psoriasis

greasy, yellowish crusts on baby's scalp, eyebrows and nappy area

cradle cap

Information:

Do not worry if you're not sure what is causing your dandruff. Follow the advice on this page and see a GP if things do not improve in a month.


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