Dandruff: An Unfavorable Pandemic

Paul M. Graham, D.O.

Do you have dandruff or ever wonder why this embarrassing disease exists?  Well, your’re in the right place to get your answer. Dandruff, otherwise known as seborrheic dermatitis, is the most common form of eczema that is seen by dermatologists. Seborrheic dermatitis is an inflammatory disorder of the scalp and face that is thought to occur secondary to the colonization and overreaction to a commensal yeast on the surface of the skin, termed Malassezia furfur. It most commonly involves areas with a large number sebaceous glands and was thought to be associated with increased sebum production (dead skin cells and oil). For many years, scientists have been perplexed on why certain people are predisposed to the development of seborrheic dermatitis and have sought to find the answer.

In a publication released just yesterday in Scientific Reports, scientists believe that adjusting the balance of bacteria on the scalp may lead to the suppression of seborrheic dermatitis or dandruff. They demonstrated that bacteria has a stronger influence than yeast in the development of seborrheic dermatitis.Contrary to our previous belief, this study did not demonstrate that Malassezia (yeast) species did not play an important role in the severity of dandruff. The results indicated that the severity of the seborrheic dermatitis was closely linked to an imbalance between the bacteria and our immune system. The bacterial species most prevalent on the scalp was Propionibacterium and Staphylococcus, both common commensal organisms in humans. In dandruff-free subjects, there was a higher concentration of Propionibacterium in comparison to Staphylococcus. On the other hand, Staphylococcus was more abundant in comparison to Propionibacterium in those affected by seborrheic dermatitis.

What does this mean?

There is a significant correlation with the severity of seborrheic dermatitis and the quantity and type of bacteria on the skin. By increasing Propionibacterium and decreasing Staphylococcus on the scalp, we could potentially decrease the severity of seborrheic dermatitis. It contrast to what we previously thought, scalp sebum could act as a food source for Propionibacterium, thus helping to decrease the colonization of Staphylococcus and contributing to a more balance ratio of these two bacteria. Although more studies are needed to support these findings, the results are promising for future development of treatment protocols and formulations for seborrheic dermatitis.

Conclusion: We may have the ability to alter the bacterial load, restoring balance to the skin’s surface, thus leading to a decrease in development of dandruff.  

If you suspect you may have dandruff/seborrheic dermatitis, please visit your local dermatologist as this condition is easily treated with topical medications and shampoo.

Photo Credit: StyleCraze.com

Original Article: http://www.nature.com/articles/srep24877

Please note, our medical disclaimer applies to all information, images, recommendations, and comments published on this page.


Published by Dr. Paul M. Graham

Paul M. Graham, D.O. (Founder/Editor-in-chief) founded Dimensional Dermatology in May 2016 with the vision to provide concise, easy to read, up-to-date dermatology and aesthetic medicine information to patients, medical staff, providers, and the general public. Dr. Graham is currently completing his training as a cosmetic dermatologic surgery fellow in Virginia Beach, Virginia at the McDaniel Laser and Cosmetic Center. He completed his dermatology training at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital and was a clinical instructor at Michigan State University. He received his B.S. degree as Summa Cum Laude at Old Dominion University, his D.O. degree as Cum Laude at Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, completed his internship at Largo Medical Center in Largo, Florida as chief intern, and completed his dermatology residency training at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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