Ruff, or something rougher? (Or why persistent ‘dandruff’ might just be a sign of something worse)

Ruff, or something rougher? (Or why persistent ‘dandruff’ might just be a sign of something worse)

Dandruff is a common enough condition – most people have suffered it at some point or the other. Although usually treatable with household remedies and normal over-the-counter anti-dandruff shampoos, in some cases, one might encounter a very stubborn form that refuses to budge even after strong treatments. 

What if this persistent dandruff isn't dandruff at all? Dry flakes are commonly caused by dandruff, but sometimes also by psoriasis, which is a very different, and far more serious, condition.

Dandruff (also referred to as seborrhea) is largely treatable and seldom causes major medical problems. Psoriasis, on the other hand, is a lifelong (and currently still incurable) condition that can cause significant discomfort.

Similar Annoyance, Different Ailments

Dandruff is a scalp ailment characterised by flaking of dry skin. Flakes from the scalp in more severe case fall on your shoulders, causing more than a little embarrassment. 

Dandruff is usually caused by an overreaction of the body to the presence of natural yeast on the epidermis. This inflammation causes an excess production of epithelial cells, which results in flaking. This type of dandruff shows up as small flakes of dry skin, and may be accompanied by dryness in other parts of the body as well.

Another cause of dandruff is harsh hair products. Using strong shampoos or a lot of products may irritate the scalp, causing it to flake.

A third type of dandruff is caused by a fairly common ailment known as seborrheic dermatitis. It is distinguished by red and greasy patches of skin that produce yellow flaking on the scalp. These flakes are significantly bigger than other dandruff types. Seborrheic dermatitis can also cause flaky, itchy spots on the body and face, making it even harder to distinguish from psoriasis.

Even sorrier is psoriasis

If you think dandruff is rough, psoriasis is even worse. 

Unlike dandruff, it is an immune-system disorder. Specific proteins known as autoantibodies mistakenly attack healthy tissue, producing an undesirable and unnatural increase in skin cell production. This results in the collection of dry, flaky patches of skin, especially on the scalp.

Dead skin is normally shed as small, thin particles from the skin's outermost layer. These particles are too small for the naked eye to see, and is a natural bodily process. Skin renewal takes place as new, healthier skin cells develop under the skin's surface and then rise to the top within weeks to replace the existing dead cells.

Psoriasis can accelerate this process in numerous locations on the body, and because the dead skin is no longer flaking, there is no time for it to move through its usual process. As a result, dead skin cells accumulate on the surface. This is most commonly seen on the scalp, elbows, knees, or back. Psoriasis can manifest itself in a variety of ways. Your skin may appear cracked and dry at times. At times, it will be reddish and flecked with little silvery patches.

The smooth, with the ‘ruff

Dandruff is simple enough to cure or manage. Using just a dandruff shampoo should usually be enough to hold dandruff at bay. In general, keeping hair clean is a good idea, and shampooing it twice a week is optimal. Changing shampoos every now and then is recommended, as the one in use might become less efficient with time. Oil and grime that accumulate on the scalp can also cause dryness that mimics dandruff. Shampoos with specific deep cleansing and anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory ingredients are a good bet for a clean healthy scalp. The

Mystical Tea Tree Oil Shampoo for Anti-inflammatory Effect, Amazing Vitamin C Shampoo for Antibacterial Protection, and the Supercool Charcoal Shampoo for Deep Cleansing are highly effective in preventing dandruff.

But can psoriasis be given a miss?

Unfortunately, psoriasis is neither predictable, nor preventable. It most commonly develops between ages 14 and 35, but can appear at any age. Symptomatic relief can be given with topical, oral, and injectable treatments, which are often steroids, but so far there is no cure.

Disease-modifying antirheumatic medications (DMARDs) are commonly used. Light treatment, which uses precisely directed ultraviolet light to target psoriasis hot spots, can also help alleviate psoriasis symptoms.

Biologics are also used to treat a variety of mild to severe psoriasis conditions. These injectable medications act by inhibiting inflammatory proteins.

When to knock for a doc?

Dandruff is frequently self-diagnosed at home by detecting flakes on the hair and scalp. If you are afraid that it is anything more serious, a doctor can help you determine whether it is dandruff or psoriasis. If your doctor suspects psoriasis, he or she will inquire if you have any additional symptoms, such as joint discomfort or itchy skin on other parts of your body.

If your dandruff does not disappear or improve after two weeks of using an anti-dandruff shampoo, you should consult a doctor. Prescription dandruff shampoos may have the potency you require to overcome the problem. You could also need a medicated topical.

If all of your symptoms indicate the presence of psoriasis, then you should consult a dermatologist immediately. If there are painful or stiff joints along with your psoriasis, it is likely that you have psoriatic arthritis - this condition can be treated by a rheumatologist. Your healthcare professional will be able to assist you in coordinating your care and recovery.

We can help

It never hurts to give your scalp the best care there is. And if it's nature-based, then so much the better. Check out the shampoos at, specially designed to keep hair and scalp free of irritation

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