Dandruff - Symptoms 

Symptoms of dandruff 

The main symptom of dandruff is white or grey dry flakes of skin on your scalp and in your hair. The flakes are often noticeable if they fall from your scalp on to your shoulders. Your scalp may also feel itchy and dry.

Seborrhoeic dermatitis

If your dandruff is associated with the skin condition seborrhoeic dermatitis you may also experience additional symptoms.

These can include scaling and itching of the skin. Areas of the body most commonly affected include:

  • the scalp
  • the face
  • in and around the ears
  • the front of the chest and between the shoulder blades
  • areas where the skin folds together, such as your armpits, groin and inner thighs

The scaling can range from some mild pink patching to widespread thick crusts of skin.

In some cases the scales can become infected, which can lead to the patches becoming red, painful and discharging pus and fluid.

Severe cases of patching on your scalp can result in some degree of hair loss.

Cradle cap

Babies can develop yellow, greasy scaly patches on their scalp. This is known as cradle cap.

Cradle cap appears most often in babies in the first two months and tends to last only a few weeks or months. It usually clears up by the age of two, although in rare cases children can have cradle cap a lot longer.

Read more about treating cradle cap.

When to seek medical advice

You should contact your GP if your symptoms show no signs of improvement after using anti-dandruff shampoo for two weeks. You may require stronger prescription treatment.

Also see your GP if you think you have developed symptoms of seborrhoeic dermatitis. Again this condition may require prescription medication to control.  

Page last reviewed: 19/06/2012

Next review due: 19/06/2014


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Itching is a common symptom that can be caused by a number of conditions