If there is one thing about New England, the weather is never constant.
The yo-yoing temperatures may leave your scalp flakey.
If it gets to the point where you’re noticing dandruff, it may be seborrhea dermatitis, a condition often brought on by the changing elements.
“Dandruff in its more severe form can be exacerbated by environmental factors such as stress and changes in season,” said Dr. Robert O’Brien, a dermatologist at Winchester Hospital. “I commonly see patients with this during the transition from winter to spring.”
This time of year — and the fall to winter seasonal transition – is when those who are prone to dandruff may notice the condition more.
To understand why seasonal changes exacerbate dandruff, it’s important to know what causes the condition in the first place.
O’Brien says seborrhea dermatitis is caused by oiliness in the skin that contributes to an overgrowth of the yeast Pityrosporum ovale. The yeast overgrowth is combined with an alteration in the immune system. So, there’s a genetic component, as well as factors related to the environment.
Someone might experience a dandruff proliferation if they visit a temperate climate, too.
One reason these seasonal changes bring on more white flakes is that the sun is in short supply. The sun’s ultra violet rays curb the oiliness and the subsequent yeast overgrowth.
“It’s one of the most common skin conditions,” O’Brien said. “Since there is a genetic, immune, and environmental component, it’s important to calm down the inflammation.”
While we think of dandruff as a condition related to the scalp, seborrhea dermatitis can also affect other areas.
“You can’t put lotion on the dry spots and make it go away, that’s because this is related to the immune system,” O’Brien said. Dryness of the eyebrows with scaling is common.
If you have a dandruff outbreak, use an anti-seborrhea shampoo. If it’s severe, a mild steroid can be obtained with a prescription.
While the condition is annoying and can be itchy or embarrassing, know it’s strictly cosmetic and easily treatable.
For more information, speak to your Lahey Health physician.