What Is Dandruff?

Dandruff is a common and often embarrassing condition that is characterized by dry or greasy scales of skin that flake off the scalp.

Dandruff is frequently the result of seborrheic dermatitis, a condition that causes skin to become red, itchy and covered with white or yellow scales. Seborrheic dermatitis is most likely to occur where the skin has the most oil glands: on the scalp, eyebrows, nose, chest and groin. In infants, the condition is known as cradle cap, as it usually affects just the head.

Dandruff can occur at any age, but it’s most common in newborns and young adults. When it begins in adolescence, it often lasts many years. Those with an increased risk factor for dandruff include:

  • Men
  • People with oily skin and hair
  • People with:
    • HIV/AIDS
    • A weakened immune system
    • Hepatitis
    • Cancer
    • Parkinson disease
    • Alcoholic pancreatitis