Dandruff is the shedding of the skin on the scalp that leads to white flakes on the head, neck and shoulders. If the dandruff flakes are greasy and yellow in colour, and the underlying scalp is red, you probably have the skin condition seborrhoeic dermatitis.

Large silvery scales are relatively rare and may be an indication of psoriasis of the scalp. Although most doctors are aware that dandruff is the result of skin cells that grow and die too quickly, the reason for this is still not known.

For some people, sensitivity to certain hair products can trigger dandruff. It may also be caused by a fungus, Malassezia. Other potential triggers for dandruff include changes in hormones, stress, illness and too much oil on your scalp.

Treating dandruff

For mild cases of dandruff, washing your hair regularly with a gentle shampoo and keeping it clean should work. If not, try using a medicated shampoo. You should experiment with a few types until you find one that works for you. Use it daily until your dandruff is under control, then cut back to 2-3 times a week. You need to leave the shampoo in your hair for at least five minutes to give it time to work before washing it off. Make sure to rinse off the shampoo thoroughly.

If medicated shampoo doesn’t work, see your doctor. You may require a prescription-strength shampoo or more aggressive treatment with a steroid lotion.

The above information was adapted from "Beautiful Inside Out" - The SingHealth Guide to Women's Health.