Health answers: What is it that causes dandruff?

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Q. What causes dandruff, and is it a health problem?

A. Cells on our scalps are constantly dying and falling off, but for people with dandruff this process kicks into high gear. Scaly flakes of skin form on the scalp and shed rapidly, and they become visible in the hair and on the shoulders. The scalp can also become itchy, irritated, and red. Dr. Gary Goldenberg, a dermatologist at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, says that while we think of dandruff as affecting only the scalp, it’s considered a form of seborrheic dermatitis, an inflammatory condition that causes redness, flakiness, and itching on the scalp, face, chest, and groin.

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