Dandruff (Seborrhea)

  • Medical Author:
    Gary W. Cole, MD, FAAD

    Dr. Cole is board certified in dermatology. He obtained his BA degree in bacteriology, his MA degree in microbiology, and his MD at the University of California, Los Angeles. He trained in dermatology at the University of Oregon, where he completed his residency.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Dandruff (Seborrhea) Slideshow Pictures

Quick GuideFight Dandruff: How to Treat, Control, and Prevent Flakes

Fight Dandruff: How to Treat, Control, and Prevent Flakes

If over-the-counter products don't work, what can the doctor prescribe for dandruff?

A primary-care physician or dermatologist can recommend prescription-strength shampoos or antifungal and corticosteroid creams that are stronger than those available over the counter, yet are not too strong to use on the face. There also are corticosteroid-based liquids, gels, and foams that one can apply to the scalp that won't leave the hair limp and matted. Nonsteroid preparations like tacrolimus (Protopic) or pimecrolimus (Elidel) can also help.

As with all seborrhea (dandruff) treatments, medicated shampoos and cortisone creams calm down the skin or scalp sensitivity, but they can't stop the seborrhea (dandruff) from coming back. Most people, however, only have to treat their condition from time to time when it becomes itchy or noticeable.

A word on eyelashes

Dandruff (seborrhea) of the eyelashes can be both annoying and hard to treat. Eye doctors like to recommend scrubbing the lashes with baby shampoo on a cotton swab. Corticosteroid-based lotions should be used close to the eye only under medical supervision since continuous exposure of the eye to these products can lead to serious eye problems.

REFERENCE:

Turner, G.A., M. Hoptroff, and C.R. Harding. "Stratum Corneum Dysfunction in Dandruff." International Journal of Cosmetic Science 34 (2012): 298-306.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/21/2015

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