Dandruff is normal shedding of skin. On most of the body surface, the flakes of dead skin fall to the ground without notice, but they can accumulate in the hair. This is a normal process that occurs throughout life on the entire body. It is not contagious.
How can I take care of myself?
The key to fighting dandruff is removing the flakes as fast as they form by washing the hair daily. A regular shampoo usually works very well. Brush your hair before each washing. Eventually, you may be able to wash your hair every other day without seeing dandruff, but you probably won’t ever be able to wash it less often than that.
If your scalp is red and irritated or the scales are quite greasy, use a medicated antidandruff shampoo, mousse, or gel (one containing selenium sulfide). Medicated products not only remove the dandruff but also cut down on the rate of shedding.
Your pharmacist can help you select an antidandruff shampoo. This type of shampoo is used in a special way: lather the hair, wait 3 minutes, then rinse thoroughly. Do this 3 days in a row and then once a week. Use a regular non-dandruff shampoo on other days.
When should I call my healthcare provider?
Call during office hours if:
Your dandruff is not improved after 2 weeks.
You also have hair loss, which can be a sign of ringworm.
You have other questions or concerns.
Written by Barton D. Schmitt, MD, author of â€œMy Child Is Sick,â€ American Academy of Pediatrics Books.
Pediatric Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth. Last modified: 2009-11-23 Last reviewed: 2014-06-10
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.