Do you have dandruff? One of the central factors in causing dandruff, or Seborrheic dermatitis, is an organism that lives in the skin of most people. That organism is a yeast that changes back and forth into a fungus. Interesting, huh? It used to be called Pityrosporum, but it is now is known as Malassezia species.
Here's my summation of the medical literature: it is your immune system’s reaction to Malassezia, which causes the inflammation, redness, and scaling that is characteristic of dandruff. Inflammation seems to depend on the presence, quantity, and type of exposure to other similar yeast and fungi entering the body, and other factors that affect the immune system.
The presence of related yeast and fungi is important because they may play some role in changing the body’s immune response to Malassezia in our skin, thus causing dandruff or other inflammatory skin conditions.
So it is very interesting to see a recent article that shows that other fungi of the same genus, Malassezia, are present in a variety of organisms as different as corals, deep sea hydrothermal vents, lobsters, eels, and Antarctic soils.
So the exposures that increase our allergic reactivity to the Malsasezia in our skin may, and thus our dandruff, may be quite varied and completely unexpected. Diet, seafood, travel, and underwater adventures, may someday be linked to worsening or improvement of dandruff. Future holistic skincare treatments could include monitoring and changing these factors.
To your health,
Dr. Alan M. Dattner, MD