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As the cooler weather approaches, you may feel that dandruff on you scalp is worsening. Well, it probably is. Dandruff is a dry or greasy scale that can cause redness and crustiness to your scalp, face, as well as other areas of the body. This results from a yeast that congregates around your oil glands. It is not contagious and the cause remains unknown but is believed to related to increased oil secretion. What you are actually seeing is the dry skin resulting from the overactive “yeast” growth as well as an inflammatory response that it causes leading to redness, itchiness, burning sensation, and even more scale! UGH!

Technically, it is known as Seborrheic Dermatitis. Sounds fancy huh? You can tell your friends I don’t have dandruff, I have seborrheic dermatitis. Unfortunately, this has lifelong recurrences and outbreaks can last for weeks, months, or years. GHAH!

Probable cause: It is highly suspicious you may have an active relationship between you and Malassezia furfur. This is a fungus (yeast) that belongs to the physiological skin flora which is believed to play a role. You may experience your flaky and even greasy scale to your scalp, eyebrows, eyelid margins, around your nose and even your belly button, chest and back. Usually areas that contain the greatest number of oil glands (sebaceous glands); however, it is not a disease of the sebaceous glands. It affects 3-5% of the population in the United States and is quite the nuisance.

Cradle-cap sound familiar? That is the first peak of your seborrheic dermatitis in your life in which you experience when you are an infant (about 3 months of age) and then the second peak shows up post-puberty. WILL IT EVERY GO AWAY???? NO!!! It is known to improve during summer months but is exacerbated by stress, cold weather and friction.

Treatment of choice are over-the-counter (OTC) topical anti-fungals such as ketoconazole shampoo or topical cream or lotion. Other treatments include: zinc, sulfur, selenium sulfide and salicylic acid shampoos and topical lotions or creams. If you fail these treatments then it is highly suggested you see a medical professional to make sure nothing else is going on. Remember, compliance is key for the best results and management. Dandruff will always be with you as there is no cure, but it can be controlled with the right products and patience. So, it is time you start getting along with Malassezia yeasts, after all, you do have to live together.

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