THE cold Siberian winds do not only bring nostalgic memories of past Christmases and the expected excitement of the Holidays. Cold weather has been known to cause some dermatological issues or skin problems, one of them is seborrheic dermatitis, which is an inflammation of the skin covering the scalp, face and occasionally, other parts of the human body. It is known to run in families that is, it has a genetic predisposition pattern.
Usually, it begins gradually causing dry and scaling of the scalp-dandruff- with accompanying pruritus-itchiness- without hair loss. In more severe cases, yellowish to reddish scaly pimples appear along the hairline, behind the ears, in the external ear canal, , in the eyebrows, in the bridge of the nose, around the nose and even on the cheeks., In newborns less than one month old, seborrheic dermatitis may produce a thick yellow crusted scalp rash called cradle cap. Frequently, there is also a stubborn diaper rash.
Dandruff is a very common scalp condition especially among young to middle aged adults. When the scalp renewal process is shortened- that is faster than the usual epidermidization process- gradual replacement of top layer of skin cells by new cells coming from the basal part of the epidermis which is about 28-30 days. As a result, there is rapid excessive shedding of scalp dead cells which stick together to form visible flakes. It used to be that the public knew of a fungal cause of the dandruff until recently, dermatologists as well as trichologists-hair specialists- identified a microorganism named Mallassezia globosa which thrive abundantly in the lipid or fat content of the surface of the scalp particularly lauric acid. The microbe is responsible for the initiation of the process causing micro inflammatory reactions in the scalp leading to itchiness and erythema or redness. A chemical substance applied topically Zinc pyrithione, a coordination complex of zinc is proven to be safe, has anti-inflammatory effects that may help to control the itchiness, and slow down the process of excessive shedding.
There are many herbal substances being marketed with claims of relieving the many complaints of sufferers of seborrheic dermatitis. However, your columnist suggests that a dermatologist or a skin specialist be consulted first, because there may be other items or health issues causing the supposed dandruff. We are lucky to have board-certified and trained dermatologists in Baguio like Dr. Purita Chan-Noble, true blue Baguio girl and a graduate of our SLU , her presence as well as her other colleagues expertise save us the time, money and effort from going down to imperial Manila for our skin problems, Cheers to them!