Question: I have had bad dandruff for a long time now and am worried it will make me lose my hair. Please can you advise if this is possible?
Answer: Hi Simon. Pityriasis, better known as ‘dandruff‘ is a scalp condition which sees the outer layer of the skin shed to form white flakes that then collect in the hair or settle on the neck, back and shoulders. Everyone loses scalp tissue naturally each month, but for those affected by dandruff, the loss is much more pronounced, with skin renewal (or skin ‘turnover’) happening every two to seven days. It is a common scalp condition and around half the population will be affected by dandruff at some point in their lives.
It is important that you find out the cause of your dandruff as,whilst in most cases it is simply dry skin that flakes off, there is a condition that causes dandruff which can also lead to hair loss.The most common causes of dandruff include poor cleaning habits, psoriasis, eczema, allergic reactions brought on by cleaning products or a specific fungal infection. Although potentially embarrassing, these forms of dandruff can often be managed quite successfully using a specialist dandruff shampoo.
Whilst scratching your scalp – a common mannerism associated with having dandruff – can damage the hair shafts leading to breakage which may give the appearance of thinning hair, it is dandruff caused by seborrhoeic dermatitis that is of most concern in relation to hair loss.
Seborrheic eczema, or seborrhoeic dermatitis is also known as “cradle cap” in children. It is an inflammatory skin disorder which can affect the scalp, face and torso, causing scaly patches and inflamed skin.
The exact cause of seborrhoeic dermatitis is unknown but is thought to have genetic elements, with a common yeast infection called melassezia also playing a role. Lifestyle influences such as stress or a poor diet can cause the condition to flare up.
Unlike other forms of dandruff, seborrhoeic dermatitis can cause hair loss if left untreated. Do you have an inflamed scalp? Or have you noticed any unusual hair loss? If so, or if you are unsure, it is extremely important to see a hair loss professional who can examine your scalp.
A hair loss expert will be able to advise whether you have a case of seborrhoeic dermatitis, and create a custom treatment plan designed to manage your condition. They will also be able to help you manage any underlying hair loss condition, regardless of whether it is related to dandruff or not.
As you do not mention whether you have started to experience excessive shedding just yet but say your dandruff has been persistent for some time, it is important to remember that dandruff is not usually a cause of hairloss in itself. However, an itchy or flaky scalp can be an indication that something may be amiss, so you should first try an anti-dandruff shampoo. If that fails to make any difference, you should seek professional assistance at your earliest convenience.
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