ZocdocAnswersWhy do I have dandruff?

Question

Why do I have dandruff?

I'm a 26 year old guy and I'm trying to take better care of myself because I've had dandruff since I was 15 and I know it's a sign something's off balance. I can use anti-dandruff shampoo, but it seems like that makes my scalp oily and itchy. What should I do? Is this a dietary thing?

Answer

Dandruff, or seborrheic dermatitis, is a very common condition. It is seen in many people -- both men and women and in people of all ages. If this continues to be a problem, you may have a severe form of this and require prescription medication. A dermatologist would be your best option and I would encourage you see a dermatologist for this if you are having significant problems. Seborrheic dermatitis refers to inflammation of the skin's outer most layer. It involves inflammation of the sebum -- or natural oils produces by the skin's glands. Seborrheic dermatits can occur in different areas, but when it occurs on the scalp it can result in dandruff. The actual composition of dandruff is flaked off skin cells that occurs because of the inflammation. As for why some people are more likely to get this an others are not clear. Some people think it is due to body hormones and therefore stress and other illnesses can exacerbate the symptoms. Some think its due to a low level of infection in the skin. It is unclear if diet is related. There are many treatments to try. The first step is anti-inflammatory shampoos. Head and Shoulders or other brands that contain zinc pyrithione are helpful. Selenium Sulfide (such as Selsun) can also be helpful. Tar based shampoos can be helpful as well. Beyond that, your dermatologist can prescribe steroids or anti-fungal therapy. See a dermatologist. Good luck!

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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