Seborrheic dermatitis, commonly called dandruff, is the major cause of an itchy scalp. It presents as itchy, red, greasy flaking of the skin. In skin of color, affected areas may be lighter in color than the surrounding skin and there may be no redness which makes diagnosis difficult. Although most commonly found on the scalp, the face, ears, and chest can also be affected.
Dandruff and the associated itch are common in people of all ages and skin types. However, ethnic hair, particularly afro textured hair, has both decreased water content and oil gland activity, which can lead to scalp dryness. Common hair care practices such as chemical hair straightening, traction styling (cornrows, braids, and dreadlocks) and sewn-in or glued-in natural or synthetic hair extensions (weaving) also make dandruff and scalp itch more likely. Finally, because these hairstyles can be very delicate, patients may choose not to wash their hair as frequently, which greatly increases the risk.
Treatments include medicated shampoos, creams, and oils which reduce the inflammation and associated itch. The treatment schedule and combination of medications your provider prescribes will depend on the severity of your symptoms, the location of disease, and your hair and skin type. Your provider will also ask you detailed questions about your hair care practices to best provide you with a culturally sensitive treatment plan that works with your lifestyle. Click below to start your dandruff and itchy scalp consultation today!