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Dandruff (cont.)

Dandruff Causes

The exact cause of dandruff is unknown. Possible causes and associations include increased oil production and secretion, oily skin, and increased numbers of normal skin yeasts.

Bacteria have not been found to cause dandruff. Dandruff is not a fungal infection and is not the same as scalp "ringworm," which is actually a fungal infection called tinea capitis. Dandruff is not contagious.

Dandruff may also be triggered or made worse by poor hygiene and infrequent shampooing and washing. The immune system may also play a part in dandruff. Although mild dandruff is a very common condition in many people with a normal immune system, severe dandruff is more common in people with some chronic illnesses such as Parkinson' s disease or a compromised immune system as in advanced HIV/AIDS.

  • Common triggers (factors that may worsen) of dandruff include the following:
    • Increased oil production
    • Oily skin
    • Oily scalp
    • Poor hygiene
    • Weather (hot and humid or cold and dry)
    • Infrequent washing or shampooing
    • Poor immune system
    • Chronic illness
    • Emotional or mental stress
  • Risk factors for dandruff include the following:
    • People with extreme or severe cases of dandruff usually also have other chronic health conditions
    • Dandruff probably has a small hereditary component making it more common to run in families.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/29/2014

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Seborrheic dermatitis is a papulosquamous disorder patterned on the sebum-rich areas of the scalp, face, and trunk.

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