What Are the Signs of Dandruff?

Dandruff, or seborrheic dermatitis, is a dermatological condition that affects the scalp. It is most common during the cooler months of the year, but it can occur anytime. Males, young adults, people who don’t eat a well balanced diet, those with oily hair and people with illnesses such as heart disease or immune system disorders are most likely to suffer from dandruff. While dandruff is most common on the scalp, it can occur anywhere on the body where there is hair.


Dandruff causes white or yellow flakes of dead skin to fall off the affected area, according to the National Institutes of Health. The flakes may be oily and will usually be noticeable in the hair or on the skin. When the scalp is the affected area, the flakes may be noticed on the shoulders. These can often be treated with an over-the-counter dandruff shampoo.


Itching is a common sign of dandruff. Even though the affected area itches, it won’t turn red or appear irritated. If the area appears red or irritated, the patient is likely suffering from contact dermatitis. Daily use of a dandruff shampoo should eliminate the itching; however, if no improvement is noticed after one to two weeks of treatment, a visit to a dermatologist is warranted because a yeast-like infection may be to blame for the itching, states the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology.

Cradle Cap

Dandruff in infants is sometimes referred to as cradle cap. The symptoms of this condition include a crusting of and scaling on the scalp, according to the Mayo Clinic. The scaling and crusting can be brushed off and will usually clear up on its own during the first year of the baby’s life. Regular hair washing is necessary to help the cradle cap clear up.