Of all of yeast infections, there is one type that is commonly experienced by people yet barely recognized as a yeast fungal disease. Mostly, it is manifested by redness, inflammation, itchiness, and flaky, white patches in the scalp that is popularly known as dandruff. The itchy feeling creates such discomfort that an infected individual can’t help but scratch the scalp leading to further injury. Moreover, the white flakes falling off and mostly caught in between the hair strands are somewhat embarrassing and untidy to look at.
For long years, there are many health beliefs regarding the real cause of dandruff. It is believed that dandruff is a result of too much use of shampoo, dryness of the scalp and poor hygienic practices. However, all of these are misconceptions because recent dermatologic studies had revealed that most dandruff conditions are caused by an infection from the yeast Pityrosporum ovale (P. ovale).
Similar to other yeast species like Candida, Pityrosporum ovale naturally thrives on certain parts of the body along with the good bacteria. It serves as protective flora against other microorganisms and is usually found on the scalp. Likewise, it does not cause infection unless it exceedingly reproduces and grows.
The overgrowth of P. ovale would only occur in instances that imbalance in the defense system of the body arises. Moreover, the factors that cause this imbalance are climate changes, stress, hormonal changes and intake of medications (antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs) that result to weaken immune system and eradication of good bacteria. The good bacteria actually acts as competitors of yeasts; thereby keeping the growth of the said fungi in control. On the other hand, P. ovale like the rest of the yeasts is just waiting for the most favorable condition wherein it can overpower the good bacteria and cause opportunistic scalp yeast infection.
The fallacy about dandruff makes affected individuals remain suffering from the said fungal infection. Majority of these people are receiving improper treatment like merely lessening the use of shampoo or even reaching the point of totally prohibiting themselves from applying any type of shampoo. Others would buy various products that claim to keep the scalp moisturized and oily as it is believed that dryness makes the scalp shed off. While in fact, dandruff is caused by too much sebum (lipids/oil) in the scalp, which feeds the P. ovale and promotes their multiplication. Consequently, the menace does not end there because after utilizing the scalp lipids and reproducing itself, the yeast P. ovale then releases toxins into the scalp. These toxins irritate the scalp and make it inflamed as well as increase the rate of skin/scalp cellular death. Thus, the cells shed off resulting to whitish, scaly patches and flaky appearance of the scalp.
The manifestations of scalp yeast infection (dandruff) are not really that severe to prompt someone to consult a doctor. Majority of dandruff sufferers resort to changing the brand of their shampoo and even switching to the most popular and expensive anti-dandruff shampoo they could find. Most people believe that it has something to do with the shampoo alone. Indeed, anti-dandruff shampoo is effective at times but recurrence of dandruff from time to time conveys something else. If dandruff is becoming a long-term problem, never hesitate to visit a doctor for timely diagnosis and treatment.
If one’s dandruff problem is confirmed to be caused by P. ovale, don’t wait for the yeast infection to penetrate into the deeper tissues. A simple dandruff can become worst without proper treatment. Yeast infection is not always superficial. It can progress further and may turn out into a systemic infection, which is highly fatal. Early diagnosis is the key for a prompt treatment. Likewise, an early treatment prevents further complications. It would be so careless and awful to develop a serious ailment from a benign dandruff condition.