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Dandruff could spell bigger health problems

By Vision Reporter

Added 26th September 2010 03:00 AM

FOR many, the flaking of their scalp has
become part of their lives and they
are resigned to the fact that dandruff
is there to stay.

FOR many, the flaking of their scalp has
become part of their lives and they
are resigned to the fact that dandruff
is there to stay.

FOR many, the flaking of their scalp has
become part of their lives and they
are resigned to the fact that dandruff
is there to stay. But as Vique-Ocean
writes, it could be a whistle
blower for a bigger issue

Dr. John Nsibambi, a dermatologist explains that excessive skin flaking can be triggered by an underlying illness or condition such as:
This is a common skin disease that affects the life cycle of skin cells. This causes cells to build up rapidly on the surface of the skin, forming thick silvery scales and itchy, dry, red patches that
are sometimes painful.

No cure exists, but psoriasis treatments
may offer relief. Lifestyle measures, such as using a medicatedcream and exposing your skin to small amounts of natural sunlight, can improve your psoriasis symptoms.

Fungal infection
Eczema is one fungal infection that causes skin allergies that cause skin flaking. If you have eczema on your scalp, it is possible you could develop dandruff.

Seborrheic dermatitis
This a common skin disorder that mainly affects the scalp, causing scaly, itchy, red skin and stubborn dandruff. Also known as the cradle cap in infants.

This skin inflammation affects not only the scalp but also the face, upper chest, back, sides of the nose and other oily areas of the body.

However, it is not life threatening, but uncomfortable and unsightly. Treatment can be made by studying its signs and symptoms. Moreso, use of medicated creams and a combination of self–care remedies can help curb the skin disorder.

Stress and anxiety
Emotional, mental, and physical stress play a huge factor in your overall health, dandruff and scalp included. Lack of sleep and rest, stress and worry about your work and/ or personal life, illness, and fluctuating hormones can all contribute to your dandruff problem.

This means blood is cut off from moving swiftly in the skin causing it to dry and flake. However, some causes of dandruff are mythical. Most experts do agree that it is not caused by poor hygiene but the following conditions:

Other illnesses
Patients recovering from heart attacks and strokes, and some people with weak immune systems may have dandruff more than other people because of medication and poor blood circulation in the body.

Reaction to beauty products
Some people react to some hair care products with a red, itchy, scaling scalp. Experts say shampooing too often may cause dandruff as it irritates the scalp.

Poor diet
Experts say people who do not consume enough foods that contain zinc, B vitamins, and some types of fats are more prone to dandruff.

A study found that 10.6% of people with HIV have seborrheic dermatitis (dandruff). This is caused by reduced body immunity and constant medication. When people first get HIV, they may have flu-like symptoms called a seroconversion illness.

This illness may include a non-itchy, red rash lasting 2-3 weeks. During ongoing infection, the immune system becomes damaged and this may lead to red and itchy skin. Small pearly pimples may be caused by viral infections such as the pox virus, Molluscum contagiosum, or by fungal infections such as Cryptococcus can cause dandruff.

Molluscums can spread very quickly and require treatment at your HIV clinic. This may be treated with steroid creams. Skin problems may also occur when the immune system starts to recover due to HIV treatment (especially acne and folliculitis (infection of the follicles) and appear to be a good sign of returning immune capacity.

Yeast sensitivity
People who are sensitive to yeast have a slightly higher risk of having dandruff, so it is logical to assume that yeast may play a part. Yeast-sensitive people who get dandruff find that it gets better during the warmer months and worse during the cold.

Dry skin
People with dry skin get dandruff more often. Cold air, combined with overheated rooms is a common cause of itchy, flaking skin. People with dandruff caused by dry skin have small dry skin flakes.

Not enough hair brushing
People who do not comb/ brush regularly have a higher risk of having dandruff - this is because they are not aiding the shedding of skin that combing/ brushing provides.

Dr Nsibambi says the hallmark sign of dandruff is white flakes on the scalp and in the hair. If the person is wearing dark clothes, the flakes will be more noticeable when they fall on their shoulders. The scalp may also feel itchy, tight or sore.

“Adult individuals with dandruff
(seborrheic dermatitis) of the scalp may have red, flaky, greasy patches of skin. Nonetheless, the exact cause of dandruff is quite ambiguous,” he says.

Are you one of those people tormented by dandruff? It can be a major menace and sometimes a reason for people to question the victim’s hygine.

Dandruff may seem like a mild skin disorder but it also depicts one’s health condition that requires medical attention. Dr David Ssali, a dermatologist at Derma Medical Centre, says dandruff affects the scalp and causes flakes of skin to appear.

“It is excessive or normal branny exfoliation of the epidermis. It is a common condition. Our skin cells are forever renewing themselves so when the skin cells on our scalp are renewed, the old ones are pushed to the surface and out of the scalp causing dandruff,” he says.

Dr. John Nsibambi, a dermatologist at Osler clinic in Kampala says the other school of thought for the cause of dandruff is Malassezia.

This is a fungus that lives on everybody’s scalp. Generally, it will cause no problems at all. However, it can grow out of control. It feeds on the
oils our hair follicles secrete. When this happens, the scalp can become irritated and produces extra dead skin cells which turn into what we see as dandruff.

For a person with dandruff, the renewal is faster, meaning more dead skin is shed, so the dandruff is more noticeable, explains Dr. Nsibambi.

He says dandruff can also occur if the scalp is frequently exposed to extreme
temperatures. “Dandruff is more common in men than in women, and in people with oily skin,” he adds.

”Also some studies have suggested that diets that are too salty, sugary or spicy and accompanied by excessive alcohol may exacerbate dandruff,” he says.

Dr Ssali says, dandruff can be chronicle (long-term) or the result of certain triggers. People with dandruff may also experience extreme scalp dryness, irritation and redness on the scalp.

In addition, those with severe dandruff may have social or self-esteem problems
says Dr. Nsibambi. Therefore, it vital they get treatment for both physiological and psychological reasons.

Bacteria can get under one’s skin if there is a break on the scalp due to scraching. If this happens and you feel unwell, or the affected area is red, tender and swollen you need to see your skin doctor.

Cathy’s story
The last time I had problems with dandruff was in 1990. I had struggled with it for as long as I could remember. Every time I braided my hair I would have to visit the salon to wash it every weekend.

My hairdresser advised me to try a tea
infusion to control it. The next time I washed my then natural hair, I used tea to do the last rinse after shampooing.

Just like that, my dandruff problem had been solved. I now use hair products with tea tree. When I braid my hair or do cornrows, I do not have to to the salon every week to wash it.

I use a hair pomade with tea tree oil and
eucalyptus oil and my scalp is clear.
I am grateful it was not a sign of a bigger

Dandruff could spell bigger health problems

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