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Dandruff (cont.)

What Are the Exams and Tests to Diagnose Dandruff?

Dandruff is generally fairly easy to diagnose. A medical professional can usually identify dandruff by looking at the rash and asking questions about how it appeared.

In rare instances, highly atypical cases may require more exams and tests including skin scrapings for, microscopic evaluation, and skin biopsies. A health care practitioner may scrape some scales off the rash and look at them under the microscope to make sure the rash is not caused by a fungus. A very small piece of skin may be taken (a biopsy) for microscopic examination to exclude other causes like psoriasis, lupus, and other skin diseases.

Other possible conditions that may have similar signs and symptoms are:

The four key features of dandruff are:

  • White skin flakes on any hair bearing parts of the body
  • Scaly skin by the eyebrows, ears, and nose
  • White flakes on clothes
  • Itchy or scaly scalp

What Are the Dandruff Home Remedies?

Proper home care often includes daily scalp shampooing with over-the-counter cleansers. The best shampoos for heavy adult dandruff include:

  • Tar-based shampoo
  • Zinc pyrithione shampoo (Head and Shoulders and others)
  • Selenium sulfide (Selsun Blue Shampoo)

All affected areas including the scalp, ears, face, and chest should also be washed with the therapeutic shampoo.

People who shampoo less often (once or twice a week) are usually much more prone to dandruff. Simply increasing shampooing frequency often helps clear mild dandruff. Getting rid of dandruff permanently is not possible.

Skin inflammation may be treated with topical applications of mild over-the-counter hydrocortisone 1% over two to four weeks. Apply the steroid cream sparingly one to two times a day to the affected skin areas to help decrease inflammation.

For face and ear dandruff, washing the areas with a dandruff shampoo may be very helpful. Avoid oily or heavily oiled hair and skin products. Avoid closely fitted hats, caps, head wraps, or helmets.

Eyelid dandruff may be treated with gentle daily applications of baby shampoo. A cotton tip applicator may be used to clean the lash margin while avoiding getting the shampoo directly into the eyes.

"Cradle cap" in babies may be treated with more frequent scalp washing using baby shampoo. For really thick, stuck-on scalp flakes, a small soft toothbrush dipped in warm olive oil can be used to very gently massage away some of the flakes daily or every other day. Care should be taken not to scrub or aggressively rub the fragile scalp skin.

Since dandruff tends to be chronic, the person should not expect an overnight cure or quick response. Dandruff control may require long-term skin and hair care for best results.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/24/2016

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Seborrheic Dermatitis »

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

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