You spent hours getting ready only to find out the white flakes of dandruff shouting back that black was not the best dress for tonight. Dandruff might be one of those things you want to get rid of with just a flick of a wand. It’s a disease that has been around for hundreds of years and there are thousands of antidandruff products owing to the increasing percentage of world population fighting the very problem.
Home remedies for dandruff & itchy scalp
If you are suffering from dandruff and the array of antidandruff stuff puzzles you, it might be time to try some home remedies. Before we dive into dandruff solutions, let’s take a look at what causes it.
What are the causes of dandruff?
This answer may not satisfy you, but the exact cause is unknown till date. Some scientists believe it to be related to hormonal changes because most often, dandruff first appears in scalp around puberty times. Some other possible factors are as follows:
What? Isn’t it the thing we use in baking products? There are 1,500 species of yeast; you only use one in bakery products. In fact, one form – candida – lives in our body to keep things running smoothly. An overgrowth of yeast is lead to infections, especially when immunity is weak.
Some individuals are more sensitive to yeast than others and are more likely to have dandruff. As mostly seen, dandruff usually gets worse during winters and better in hot weather. This is probably because of sunlight counteracting yeast in summer times. And since we don’t get to see a lot of sun during winters, dandruff gets worse. It is, therefore, thought that yeast may be the cause behind dandruff – at least in some cases.
Of course, this is not a medicine class. Let’s make the term simple. Seborrheic (seb-o-REE-ik) dermatitis is a skin condition that affects scalp and oily areas of the body, such as nose, ears, face, and chest. It causes scaly patches, white or yellow flakes, red skin and dandruff. Since individuals with seborrheic dermatitis have oily and irritated skin, they are more prone to have dandruff.
Another link to a fungus, Malassezia, is worth mentioning here. This fungus makes the normal microbiota (microorganisms that reside within or on humans) of our scalp and feeds on the oil secreted by hair follicle. When Malassezia becomes overactive, it causes itching of the scalp and production of extra skin cells. When these extra cells die, they mix with the oil on scalp and form dandruff.
Individuals with dry skin often have small, non-oily flakes of dandruff ready to embarrass them by showing off on their shoulders. Dry skin may be the cause of your flaking skin.
If you are obsessed with keeping your hair look neat, this point may not make any sense. But regular brushing of hair sheds off the dead skin cells and reduces the risk of dandruff.
Individuals with eczema, psoriasis, and certain other dermal conditions are more likely to be affected by dandruff. Ring worm, a fungal infection, is another cause of dandruff.
Isn’t fungus the true culprit? Well, let’s take a look at 5 other possible causes of dandruff.
Adults with neurological illnesses like Parkinson’s disease are more prone to dandruff. Similarly, weak immunity, recovery phase of heart attack and stroke, and HIV are sensitive cases for dandruff.
In a research study, up to 83 percent of the individuals with HIV had seborrheic dermatitis, whereas the frequency was 3 to 5 percent in those without any disease.
Hair care products
While some individuals argue that infrequent shampooing can cause the buildup of oil and dead cells aggravating dandruff, frequent shampooing can also trigger dandruff in some cases.
Is there any common issue that is not linked to stress? Probably not. Stress is linked to many conditions, including our present discussion topic – dandruff.
Related article: 13 Ways Stress Affects Your Health (P.S. 10 Tips to Manage Stress)
Although dandruff can be lifelong, it usually remains active from adolescence through middle age. Men have it more intense than women; may be sue to hormonal reasons.
Dermatologists often recommend zinc tablets to those with dandruff. (Note: This is not a recommendation.) Deficiencies of vitamin B, zinc, and certain fats can increase the risk of dandruff.
Symptoms of Dandruff
You are probably aware of the common signs and symptoms of dandruff. Here’s a complete list:
- Itchy scalp
- Scales on facial skin and inside external ear.
- White flakes on shoulders (more prominent on dark clothes)
- Rash over facial skin, especially nose, ears, eyebrows, and beard region.
- Dry flakes and erythema on chest.
- Oily scalp with flakes of dandruff
One may not have all of these signs, but white flakes on shoulders are usually present. Some individuals only complaint of dry skin which doesn’t get better with lotions and creams. This is often a case of undiagnosed scalp dandruff showing it’s signs on the face.
Home Remedies for Dandruff
Being able to get rid of a problem without spending time in a doctor’s office is kind of favorite for most people. Mentioned below are some home remedies that have proven helpful for some people and less helpful for others. Each person is unique and so is his body. You will have to go for hit and trial method to see what works best for your skin type.
Use Aloe Vera
This evergreen perennial has been in use for thousands of years, all thanks to its therapeutic benefits. From healing wounds to treating sunburn, aloe vera has saved many people from trouble. It is added in cosmetics, ointments, and lotions.
The antibacterial and antifungal properties of aloe vera may help you get rid of dandruff. Test-tube studies on aloe vera have found the plant effective against many fungal species. It may help reduce hair fall resulting from fungal infections. Other studies have found the anti-inflammatory effects of aloe vera, which may reduce the symptoms of dandruff.
Other than dandruff, this favorite plant of yours can also help relieve heartburn and manage type 2 diabetes. It’s a natural laxative, an alternative mouthwash, an effective way to keep produce fresh, and a beauty enhancer. With these many benefits, this home remedy is worth a try to reduce dandruff.
Aloe vera treatment for dandruff:
- Extract gel from an aloe vera gel.
- Apply this gel on hair. Make sure you also cover the scalp with aloe vera gel
- Massage gently for 3-5 minutes.
- Wrap a damp, warm towel on your head for 20-30 minutes.
- Wash your hair using a mild shampoo.
- Repeat this twice a week.
Aloe vera gel can also be used with a few drops of eucalyptus oil.
Tea tree oil remedy
Tea tree oil has grabbed the attention of those looking for ways to keep hair healthy. It is also popular in helping against skin infections, athlete’s foot, acne, other other inflammatory conditions.
Tea tree oil is extracted from the leaves of Melaleuca alternifolia plant. study published in the Journal of American Academy of Dermatology showed the effects of 5 percent tea tree oil shampoo on controlling dandruff. Since dandruff seems to be related to a yeast, Pityrosporum ovale, it was hypothesized that tea tree oil, which has antifungal properties against P ovale, may be useful in treating dandruff.
The researchers selected 126 males and females with dandruff. They were then divided into tea tree oil shampoo group and a placebo group. The participants of the study were supposed to use the shampoo for 4 weeks. By the end of study, individuals who used shampoo with 5 percent tea tree oil in it had a 41% improvement in dandruff. Paticipants also reported a reduction in the itchiness and greasiness of their scalp. No adverse effects were observed.
Applying a shampoo with 5% tea tree oil may help reduce dandruff. Don’t rise off immediately after apply the shampoo. Lather it for 3-5 minutes.
If you plan to apply tea tree oil on your hair, always buy a fresh oil. Oxidized oils can cause allergies.
Precaution: Some people are allergic to tea tree oil. Test it by applying on a small area of skin on your arm. Wait for at least 12 hours. If rash, burning, or itching was observed, avoid using this oil; you are probably allergic.
Use Baking Soda
An easily found product in the kitchen pantry, baking soda is too popular in the beauty tips category. Well, it’s not just for scrubbing the face, you can use it to treat dandruff too.
Baking soda is a gentle exfoliant that helps to remove the dead skin cells and flakes of dandruff form your scalp. You will end up having less itching and reduced redness.
The antifungal properties of baking soda are specifically effective against fungal strains that are commonly associated with skin conditions like dandruff.
A test-tube study was conducted to find out the effects of baking soda on common strains of fungi that are responsible for skin diseases. The results showed that baking soda completely inhibited the growth of fungi in 79 percent specimen in just seven days. Impressive. Isn’t it?
Another study conducted on individuals with psoriasis found that baking soda baths were effective in reducing the itchiness and irritation after three weeks.
Baking soda home remedy:
- Wash your hair with water.
- Apply baking soda on the scalp and hair
- Massage the scalp
- Leave it as such for 2-3 minutes.
- Shampoo your hair as usual.
Try Coconut Oil
There has been a lot of debate on the health benefits of coconut oil. It is a well-known ingredient of many home remedies, including at-home dandruff solutions.
Coconut oil is known for its skin hydration properties. It keeps the skin moist preventing dryness. Dry skin makes dandruff worse. Remember?
In a research study, the effects of coconut oil and mineral oil on atopic dermatitis – a skin condition characterized by itching and inflammation– were compared.
The application of coconut oil was effective in improving skin hydration and no difference was observed between mineral oil and coconut oil in this regard. Whereas, another study found that coconut oil improved the symptoms by 68 percent wit h8 weeks of use compared to 38 percent improvement with mineral oil.
Another study found coconut oil an effective remedy treating eczema, which may contribute to dandruff.
You can just apply coconut oil to the scalp. Leave it for 30 minutes and then rinse off with a mild shampoo. Some people also benefit from a mixture of coconut oil and a few drops of lemon juice.
Add Apple Cider Vinegar to Your Routine
The magical effects of apple cider vinegar go way beyond weight loss and diabetes management. It is also used as a home remedy to treat dandruff.
When applied on the scalp, the acidic nature of the vinegar helps shed the dead skin cells. It also balances the pH of the skin and reduces the growth of dandruff causing fungus.
The claims are just anecdotal; there have been no research studies on the effects of apple cider vinegar in reducing dandruff.
If you are interested in using this home remedy, add a few drops of apple cider vinegar to your shampoo. Never use it directly on the scalp.
Aspirin may help
Aspirin contains salicylic acid, which has anti-inflammatory properties. Other than aspirin, you’ll also find salicylic acid in anti-dandruff shampoos and acne care products. This acid loosens the flakes from the scalp and help you to get rid of scaly skin.
In a research study, participants with dandruff were divided in two groups. One group used anti-dandruff shampoo with salicylic acid (SA) and the other used the one without SA. The shampoo containing SA was more effective in reducing scales from the scalp.
Another study showed that there was no difference in the effectiveness of anti-dandruff shampoo containing salicylic acid and a prescription medication for treating dandruff.
You can either buy such a shampoo or add 2 crushed tables of aspirin in your shampoo to improve dandruff.
Improve Your Intake of Omega-3s
Omega-3 fatty acid is the kind of fat most people don’t get enough of. It has various important roles in the body, including the power to transform your skin and hair health.
Omega-3s are critical to the functions of heart, lungs, and immune system. These fatty acids are found in nuts, seeds, and fish.
Omega-3s manage hydration and oil production. They also promote healing and are excellent to prevent premature aging. You can also expect reduction in dandruff-related symptoms by consuming enough omega-3s.
A deficiency of these fatty acids can lead to dry skin, poor hair health, and even dandruff.
You can prevent deficiency by adding fish like trout, mackerel, and salmon in the diet. Chia seeds, walnuts, and flaxseeds are also rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
Fish oil supplements are also a good way to boost your intake.
The Bottom Line
Although dandruff can be frustrating, there are multiple treatment options to reduce the symptoms. You can get rid of the itchy scalp and white flakes by using one of these natural remedies for dandruff. For maximum results, you may use these remedies in combination with some anti-dandruff shampoo.