Skip to main content
Start your visit now

Just the flakes: The relation between dandruff and eczema

October is national eczema awareness month, so why are we bringing up dandruff? Well, that's because dandruff is the result of scalp eczema, also known as seborrheic dermatitis. It may also appear on the scalp as scaly, dry reddish patches that may even turn to scabs.

Busy executive, Eric, who travels extensively, noticed dry flakes on his dark clothing, but had no time to see a dermatologist. He starting using an over-the-counter dandruff shampoo, which helped a bit at first but didn't altogether clear things up – and then he noticed flaking skin near his nose too.

Seborrheic dermatitis is a chronic form of eczema that can go through remissions and flares. It affects areas of the body where there are oil-producing glands. In addition to the scalp, those oily areas include the face (particularly around the nose), upper back, and upper chest. With this form of eczema, there is an overgrowth of yeast fungi that causes inflammation on the skin. It is not contagious but can affect persons of any age. In infants whose scalps are affected, it is referred to as "cradle cap."

Triggers can include:

  • Stress
  • Cold, dry weather
  • Hormonal changes
  • Harsh detergents, soaps, and cosmetic products

For Eric, his triggers were definitely a stressful, busy work and travel schedule combined with spending extended time on airplanes, in airports, and inside air-conditioned office buildings.

Treating Scalp Eczema and Dandruff

Getting a diagnosis from a trained dermatologist is ideal, since the condition can be confused with others such as psoriasis or atopic dermatitis. Treatments will vary based on the severity of the condition and are best prescribed by a dermatologist, but most cases will show clear up in a few weeks after starting treatment.

Eric ultimately tried an online visit with a dermatologist on DermatologistOnCall. He was surprised to learn his diagnosis was actually a chronic form of eczema, and he received a treatment plan for both short-term resolution and directions on how to manage the condition over the long term.

Watch Eric tell his story – and you can have an online dermatology visit any time: