Flakes, Flakes, Everywhere!
Are there unexplainable signs of dust and flakes everywhere? The issue could be dandruff. Dandruff is a common condition that appears as flakes on the scalp, hair, and shoulders. Some persons even experience dandruff on the eyebrows, beard, and mustache. Dandruff is a minor skin condition caused by low-grade inflammation and can be confused with dry scalp or psoriasis.
Why do I have dandruff?
Dandruff is a response to an overproduction of oil on the scalp or face. That overproduction causes excess skin cell buildup. In some cases, dandruff could be a yeast-like fungus called Malassezia. Besides oily skin and fungus, people develop dandruff in a few more ways. These include not shampooing enough, sensitivity to hair care products, and skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema. Dandruff can also be confused with dry scalp, as both disorders share similar symptoms. With a dry scalp, the skin lacks moisture causing irritation and flakes.
Dandruff vs psoriasis
Dandruff looks very similar to scalp psoriasis since both conditions usually produce skin flakes on the hair. However, unlike dandruff, psoriasis is a more severe condition that can affect other parts of the body. Psoriasis is a chronic, inflammatory condition typically characterized by thick, itchy scales, plaques, and inflamed reddish patches. With psoriasis, the skin dries, causing cracks and bleeds. The condition can also spread further onto the face.
It’s time for treatment
Noticed any signs of dandruff recently? Then head to a dermatologist immediately. A board-certified dermatologist can help decipher if the issue is dandruff, psoriasis, or just a dry scalp. For severe cases of dry scalp and psoriasis, the dermatologist may start with medicated shampoos. Medicated shampoos have clobetasol propionate, which is effective against psoriasis. These special shampoos are only recommended for up to 4 weeks of daily use.
Turning to corticosteroids
Medicated shampoos may not be enough. The dermatologist may prescribe medication in the form of corticosteroids. Corticosteroids are the most effective topical treatment for dry scalp and psoriasis. The anti-inflammatory benefits can significantly reduce the effects of the condition. There are different classes of steroids that the dermatologist will try for the best results. Make sure to reveal any allergies to medication so the doctor can help reduce any side effects.
Other useful treatment options
The dermatologist may try salicylic acid, lactic acid, and urea. These can soften scales, making them easier to remove. The dermatologist or other medical professional may prescribe ointments, creams, and lotions that have these components. Calcipotriene, a vitamin D3 synthetic, is another useful option.
A bedtime solution
Along with steroids, the dermatologist may include tazarotene as part of treatment. This is an FDA-approved ingredient that can help slow down skin cells’ rapid growth and decrease inflammation. Tazarotene contains vitamin A and usually comes in a lotion, cream, foam, or gel form. Alone, the treatment has some side effects. But when combined with the corticosteroid, the drug is very effective. Use the medicine before bed, following the dermatologist’s instructions.
Get the right treatment for the right issue
People often mistake psoriasis as dry scalp, simple dandruff, or vice versa. Speak with a dermatologist to get the right diagnosis. Proactive medical help means proactive treatment. Dry scalp and dandruff should lessen with regular usage of a medicated shampoo. However, for severe cases of dandruff or psoriasis, a combination of steroids and other FDA-approved drugs can help clear those flakes for good. For more information, speak with a healthcare provider.