Anyone who has experienced dandruff knows how embarrassing those little white flakes can be -- especially when they fall on dark clothing. The cause of dandruff (also called seborrhoeic dermatitis when severe) is an excess of dead skin cells shedding from the scalp.

The condition is more likely to occur when the skin is dry or irritated (which is why most people with dandruff see more flakes during the winter months). You might also get dandruff if you don't wash your hair regularly, because oils and skin cells tend to build up on your scalp. Dandruff is more common in people who have skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis, or fungal infections such as malassezia (a type of yeast).

Dandruff isn't a serious problem but it can be itchy and annoying. Though it can't be cured, dandruff is fairly easy to control with a medicated shampoo that contains one or more of these ingredients:

Zinc pyrithione
Coal tar
Salicylic acid
Selenium sulphide

You may need to try two or three different products until your dandruff clears up. If it doesn't go away after a few weeks of using a dandruff shampoo, see your doctor or talk to your pharmacist because you might have a skin condition that needs treatment.

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