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Dandruff: Is it a Disease or Dysfunction?

By Dr. R. Valavan, Manager – Scientific Affairs, Schwabe India
Dr. Willmar Schwable India


Homoeopathy is known for its effectiveness in skin diseases. Many drugs used to treat hair fall and alopecia also cover dandruff symptoms directly or indirectly. There have been studies that show the effectiveness of homoeopathic drugs in dandruff, few of which are given on page no.32. A literature search is made to overview the dandruff remedies and their indicated symptoms.


Dandruff is a most common but often neglected scalp disorder that leads to hair fall. According to reports almost half of the population at the pre-pubertal age is affected, irrespective of any gender or ethnicity. It may influence one’s self esteem, since the white scales shedding on the shoulder may affect the look and personality. Recent studies suggest that hair falling is more in people with dandruff than others. Homoeopathy is known for its effectiveness in skin diseases. Many drugs used to treat hair fall and alopecia also cover dandruff symptoms directly or indirectly. There have been studies that show the effectiveness of homoeopathic drugs in dandruff, few of which are given on page no.32. A literature search is made to overview the dandruff remedies and their indicated symptoms.

What is dandruff?
Dandruff, scurf or pityriasis simplex capillitii is a common chronic scalp condition characterised by flaking of the skin on the scalp with or without itching. These flakes are majorly dead cells of the outer layer of the skin, called epidermis. The word dandruff (dandruff, dandriffe) is of Anglo-Saxon origin, a combination of ‘tan’ meaning ‘tetter’ or skin disease, and ‘drof’ meaning ‘dirty’. Mild cases of dandruff may need only proper care and cleanliness. The severity of dandruff may fluctuate with season as it often worsens in winter.

Causes and pathogenesis
Hygiene plays an important role in the formation of dandruff. Excessive exposure to sunlight is known to cause desquamation of the scalp. Stress is also a known trigger. Over shampooing, frequent combing, use of certain cosmetic products, dusts and dirt also, to some extent, cause dandruff. As stated above, dry skin is the most common cause. Contrarily to this, for some people oily skin is also one of the most frequent causes of dandruff. Conditions like psoriasis and eczema may possibly lead to the development of dandruff. Various microorganisms have also been reported to cause dandruff. Role of a yeast belonging to genus Malassezia is widely accepted. Though anyone can get dandruff, certain factors such as young adulthood up to middle age, being male, too much of oily as well as dry hair and scalp, poor diet that lacks zinc and vitamin B, and certain chronic neurological diseases can make people more susceptible to dandruff.

Dandruff is non-inflammatory in nature. Normally about 487,000 dead cells per square centimetre get released. But in a dandruff patient, it goes up to 800,000cells/sq cm. The exact phenomenon of dandruff formation is yet to be understood. The composition of dandruff scale is a cluster of dead epidermal cells, which stick together with one another and detach as such from the surface of the outermost layer of the epidermis. The size and abundance of scales are varied from one site to another and over time.

For most teens and adults, symptoms include white, oily looking flakes of dead skin with itchy, scaling scalp. Usually it is worse during the autumn and winter, when indoor heat escalates the dryness on the skin surface. Comparatively it is lesser during summer. Sometimes dandruff occurs in babies, which is called as cradle cap.

Certain measures like managing stress, moderate use of shampoo, avoiding over use of cosmetics like hair dyes, gels, sprays, etc., keeping hair and comb clean, eating healthy diet can help to prevent and control dandruff.

Why homoeopathy is a better option?
As stated earlier, efficacy of homoeopathy in skin diseases including dandruff is higher. There have been studies which confirmed the efficacy of homoeopathic medicines in dandruff. Conventional drugs are known to be having adverse effects, whereas it is now so with homoeopathic medicines. Below few studies in this topic and drugs for dandruff are given.

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