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Int J Cosmet Sci. 2006 Oct;28(5):311-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-2494.2006.00326.x.

Revisiting dandruff.

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1
Department of Dermatopathology, University Hospital of Liège, B-4000 Liège, Belgium.

Abstract

Dandruff is a common scalp disorder affecting almost half of the postpubertal population of any ethnicity and both genders. It may, however, represent a stubborn esthetical disturbance often source of pruritus. Skin biocenosis, in particular the Malassezia spp. flora, plays a key aetiologic role, in combination with the unusual capacity of some corneocytes to be coated by these yeasts. Substantial evidence indicates that keratinocytes play an active role in the generation and expression of immunopathological reactions. This is probably the case in dandruff. Upon stimulation of a critical colonization of corneocytes by Malassezia yeasts, the release of pro-inflammatory mediators is increased. This could lead to the subclinical microinflammation present in dandruff. In seborrheic dermatitis, local deposits of immunoglobulins and the release of lymphokines are responsible for the recruitment and local activation of leukocytes leading to the eventual amplification of the inflammatory reaction. Some ancillary non-microbial causes of dandruff may operate through physical or chemical irritants. Many methods have been described for rating dandruff. Our favourite tools are clinical examination and squamometry. Dandruff can precipitate telogen effluvium and exacerbate androgenic alopecia. Antidandruff formulations exhibiting some direct or indirect anti-inflammatory activity can improve both dandruff and its subsequent hair cycle disturbance.

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