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We think of dandruff as the white flakes we see on our shoulders sometimes. But what is it, really?

  1. 1Dandruff is a common skin problem that can cause scalp scaliness, flakiness, itching, or redness. It can flare up when the weather changes, especially in winter, and during stressful times.
  2. 2If you're having a lot of redness and irritation, your doctor may call it seborrheic dermatitis. But when the condition is mild, it's usually called dandruff.
  3. 3A flaky scalp may lead you to think dandruff is caused by dry skin. But actually, dandruff has more to do with your skin producing too much oil.
  4. 4The specific cause of dandruff isn’t known, but dandruff is an inflammatory condition. That means it's related to the ways your body reacts to things and tries to protect itself.
  5. 5The symptoms may be a response to something that's living on your skin, like the yeast malassezia. Most people have malassezia on their skin. Some people just react differently to it.
  6. 6Your diet can affect your dandruff. Some antioxidants and anti-inflammatory foods may help. Try foods high in vitamin B, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids like fruits and vegetables, fish, and multivitamins.
  7. 7Most people who have dandruff are otherwise healthy. But there are a few medical conditions that can make people more likely to have dandruff. These include HIV, Parkinson's disease, and Down syndrome.
  8. 8Dandruff is very treatable. If you have trouble managing your symptoms, call a dermatologist for help.
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