Description, Causes and Risk Factors:
The presence, in varying amounts, of white or gray scales in the hair of the scalp, due to excessive or normal branny exfoliation of the epidermis.
A yeast-like fungus on the scalp, called Malassezia (A genus of fungi (family Cryptococcaceae) of low pathogenicity that lack the ability to synthesize medium-chain and long-chain fatty acids and require an exogenous supply of these lipids for growth as can be found in the skin), causes scurf. This fungus, which feeds on the oils secreted by the hair follicles, is normally found on most healthy adults. Scurf develops if the organism grows uncontrollably. Scientists have not discovered what causes an overgrowth of the fungus. It has been suggested that changes in hormone levels, stress, illnesses, neurological disorders (such as Parkinson's disease), a weakened immune system, increased oil production, and increased sensitivity to the Malassezia fungus may lead to the development of scurf.
Almost anyone can have scurf, but certain factors can make you more susceptible:
Being male. Because more men have scurf, some researchers think male hormones may play a role in scurf. Men also have larger oil-producing glands on their scalps, which can contribute to scurf.
Oily hair and scalp. Malassezia feeds on oils in your scalp. For that reason, having excessively oily skin and hair makes you more prone to scurf.
Poor diet. If your diet lacks foods high in zinc, vitamins B or certain types of fats, you may be more likely to have scurf.
Certain illnesses. For reasons that aren't clear, adults with Neurological diseases, such as Parkinson's disease, are more likely to develop scurf. So are people recovering from stressful conditions, particularly heart attack and stroke, and those with compromised immune systems.
Age. Scurf usually begins in young adulthood and continues through middle age. That doesn't mean older adults don't get scurf, however for some people, the problem can be Lifelong.
Fortunately, scurf can be controlled. In mild cases, the person need only find a suitable shampoo which contains a gentle cleanser. When the scurf is severe, a medicated shampoo will be required.
Scurf causes dry, itchy, and excessive flaking of skin on the scalp. White flakes of skin may be visible on clothing.
Steps to diagnosis include:
Physical examination. Your doctor will examine your scalp and areas of your face or body where you have symptoms.
Skin biopsy. Your doctor may scrape cells off your skin and examine them under a microscope or take a skin sample (biopsy) for detailed analysis in a laboratory. These tests may help confirm your diagnosis by ruling out other skin conditions.
Medical history. Your doctor will ask about your symptoms, all the prescription and over-the-counter medications you're taking, and your other health conditions.
Most cases of scurf don't require a Doctor's care. But if you're still scratching your head after several weeks of experimenting with over-the-counter (OTC) dandruff shampoos, or if your scalp becomes red or swollen, see your PCP or dermatologist. Patients can purchase medicated shampoos to treat Scurf. For instance, zinc pyrithione shampoos (Selsun SalonTM or Head & ShouldersSM), tar-based shampoos (NeutrogenaTM or T/Gel®), salicylic acid shampoos (Ionil T®), selenium sulfide shampoos (Selsun Blue®), and ketoconazole shampoos (Nizoral®) have been used to treat scurf.
Fenugreek is very effective in preventing dandruff, hair fall and baldness. Soak fenugreek seeds in water overnight and grind it into a fine paste the following morning. Leave this paste applied on the scalp for 30 to 45 minutes and then wash it with a mild shampoo.
Boil Azadirachta indica (Neem) leaves in water and use this water to rinse hair.
Massage scalp with warm coconut oil for half an hour at least twice a week.
Make a paste by Ocimum tenuiflorum (Tulsi) leaves and Phyllanthus emblica (Amla) powder mixed with water. Massage this paste on the scalp and let it remain for half to one hour. Wash the hair with water.
Egg shampoo can be prepared by beating 2 or 3 eggs with a little water in it. Apply this mixture on the hair after wetting the hair and massage the scalp for sometime. Let this remain on the hair for sometime before washing it off with water. This treatment is very effective in preventing scurf.
Tea tree oil is found to be an effective medicine against scurf. Into some hot water, mix 1 teaspoon tea tree oil and massage your scalp with this. Wash your hair with lemon water followed by pure water. After washing, wrap a hot moist towel around your head for some time. The best time to do this is at night before going to bed.
Massage scalp with a mixture made of equal quantities of lime juice and vinegar. Wash hair with egg shampoo after this.
NOTE: The above information is educational purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.
DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.
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