Dandruff is a common chronic scalp condition marked by flaking of the skin on your scalp. Dandruff isn't contagious or serious. But it can be embarrassing and sometimes difficult to treat.
The good news is that dandruff usually can be controlled. Mild cases of dandruff may need nothing more than daily shampooing with a gentle cleanser. More-stubborn cases of dandruff often respond to medicated shampoos.
For most teens and adults, dandruff symptoms are easy to spot: white, oily-looking flakes of dead skin that dot your hair and shoulders, and a possibly itchy, scaly scalp. The condition may worsen during the fall and winter when indoor heating can contribute to dry skin, and improve during the summer.
A type of dandruff called cradle cap can affect babies. This disorder, which causes a scaly, crusty scalp, is most common in newborns, but it can occur anytime during infancy. Although it can be alarming for parents, cradle cap isn't dangerous and usually clears up on its own.
Dandruff can have several causes, including:
The extra skin cells die and fall off, making them appear white and flaky in your hair or on your clothes. Why Malassezia irritates some scalps isn't known.