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Dandruff is attached with a negative stigma in society and it is often thought that people suffering from this condition have low levels of hygiene. True, infrequent showers may predispose your skin to likely getting dandruff but regardless of predisposing factors, about 50 percent of pre-pubertal patients will suffer from dandruff at some point in their life. Just because you have reached puberty doesn't mean you are safe either. Patients in their 20s and 30s can still report frequent episodes of dandruff. 

Physiologically speaking, there is a fine line between dandruff and seborrhoeic dermatitis and even dermatologists have difficulty determining what they are looking at on initial presentation. The only difference histologically is the fact that dandruff is localized to the surface of the skin and is less severe. Dandruff is composed of layers of corneocytes that are clustered together. Because of the high level of cohesion between these cells, the patches will detach together and a dandruff scale is born. [1]

There are many causes of dandruff and the best way to avoid them is to try to manage the risk factors before they occur. As puberty approaches, hormonal changes that occur will lead to a different environment for your scalp skin to live in compared to when you were a child. This can lead to skin growing more rapidly and leading to layers of skin flaking off at an accelerated rate. 

Another factor to consider is low hygiene as mentioned before. Something as simple as failing to brush your hair often and consistently can result in the accumulation of dead skin cells on your scalp that can clump together and turn into flakes. In more serious cases, yeasts and molds are also possible if patients do not shower regularly so it is important to make sure you are doing what you can to reduce your risk. 

Unfortunately, there is a lack of medical investigations specifically targeting the risks of consuming dandruff flakes but for an answer, I will draw from another common condition that is called trichotillomania. This is a condition where patients will repetitively pull and eat their hair and eventually cause hair loss. In this condition, it is possible for patients to consume such large quantities of hair that they will create an obstruction in their intestines or stomach and require surgery to remove it. [2]

There is an obvious difference between skin cells and hair follicles so the likelihood of requiring some type of surgical intervention if you consume dandruff flakes is non-existent. Stomach acid will digest the flakes with ease and the remnants of the tissue will pass through your digestive tract unopposed. A risk that could occur when you do consume dandruff flakes is that you increase the likelihood of introducing opportunistic fungal infections to your skin's surface. This could lead to diseases like cellulitis and with numerous strains that are resistant to antibiotics now in modern society, it is an unnecessary risk that is better to avoid. 

Dandruff, itself, is self-limited and patients can easily buy shampoos to help achieve a resolution of symptoms faster if needed. When it comes to eating your dandruff flakes, this may be a coping mechanism due to excessive stress in your life; the same reason why patients may eat their hair. The best way to stop eating dandruff flakes is to try to reduce stress in your life and schedule meetings with a psychologist in order to get to the bottom of the cause of your stress and anxiety. With their help, they will find more advanced methods to cope with difficulty that does not put your body in unnecessary risks. 

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