Dandruff is a common skin condition, generally affecting the scalp. This chronic scalp problem affects people all across the world, regardless of their age or gender; however, it is more common in children, teens and young adults.
Dandruff is normally characterized by flaking and intense itching, which can cause you a lot of embarrassment. Though it is not a serious problem, people spend a lot of time and money trying to get rid of it. Some people experience low confidence and lack of self-esteem because they have dandruff and this has a considerable impact on their social life.
The good news is that you can control dandruff at home, with the help of an effective hair care routine as well as simple remedies. The treatment can sometimes be difficult and time consuming. In rare instances you may need to consult a doctor, who will probably prescribe a medicated shampoo to get rid of dandruff. Fortunately, this problem is not contagious and does not spread from one person to the other. However, it can recur, which is why you should continue the treatment, even after the dandruff has gone, to keep it from coming back.
The signs and symptoms of dandruff are very easy to spot in most people. You will know that they have dandruff in case you notice:
- Oily, white flakes of dead skin dotting your hair
- Severe itchiness on the scalp
- Frequent appearance of white dead skin on your clothes
Very often, people mistake seborrheic dermatitis for a case of dandruff, because their symptoms are quite similar. However, in the symptoms mentioned above, you will notice that in addition to red and swollen skin on the scalp, you may be suffering from a condition that is a bit more serious and requires immediate medical attention. Do consult a doctor if the itchiness worsens in spite of using the treatment options.
There are several different factors that could lead to dandruff. This problem usually occurs when the skin on your scalp becomes excessively dry. However, some of us may also get dandruff because of skin that is too oily. Given below are some of the most common dandruff causes:
- Dry Skin: Lack of adequate moisture in your skin causes it to become very dry, because of which it starts flaking and dead skin cells stay on the hair. Therefore, you may get dandruff mainly during the winter months.
- Seborrheic Dermatitis: This is a skin condition that affects the oil glands, not only in your scalp, but also in the other parts of your body, like the sides of your nose, your eyebrows, your armpits, the groin area and the eyebrows. Seborrheic dermatitis is marked by greasy red skin, which is covered with yellow or flaky white scales.
- Inadequate Hygiene: The skin on your scalp may start peeling and flaking if it is not shampooed frequently enough. The dead skin cells accumulate on the scalp and eventually lead to dandruff
- Skin Disorder: Psoriasis, a common skin disorder, causes the dead skin cells to gather and form thick scales. The parts that are most affected by this condition include the knees, trunk, elbows and perhaps the scalp too. Eczema is another common disorder that could affect the skin all over your body, including your scalp.
- Contact Dermatitis: Your scalp may itch and peel in case you are highly sensitive to certain ingredients in hair care products like shampoos, conditioners, dyes, gels, mousse and so on. An ingredient known as Paraphenylene Diamine (PDD), commonly used in hair products, causes the skin to itch and peel, which leads to dandruff.
- Yeast Infections: A yeast-like fungus known as Malassezia often lives on the scalp of adults, without triggering off any problems. However, an overgrowth of this fungus can irritate your skin and increase the production of skin cells. The excessive skin cells then die and fall off, sticking to your hair or shoulders.
Dandruff could also sometimes occur because of factors like:
- Hormonal imbalances
- Excessive stress
- Lack of proper nutrition
- Low immunity
- Neurological disorders (such as Parkinsons disease)
Some of the causes of dandruff are more serious than the others and need to be treated by a medical health care provider as soon as possible. Therefore, it is best that you consult a dermatologist or your family doctor if the dandruff does not go away in spite of treating it at home.
Remedies for Dandruff
Though dandruff treatment calls for some amount of patience and persistence, this problem can almost always be controlled.
How to get rid of dandruff at home?
The first step in getting rid of dandruff is daily cleansing of the hair, using a mild and gentle shampoo. In addition to daily shampooing, you could also try a few home remedies for dandruff, which include:
- Yogurt: Take about half a cup of fermented yogurt and apply it on to your scalp thoroughly. Let the yogurt stay for at least an hour, before rinsing it off with water and a mild shampoo.
- Vinegar: Add about 2 tablespoons of cosmetic vinegar to 6 tablespoons of hot water and apply the mixture on to your scalp. Cover your head with a piece of cloth and leave the solution on overnight. Wash your hair with warm water and shampoo the next morning.
- Aloe Vera Gel: Extract some fresh gel from an Aloe Vera leaf and apply it on to your scalp. Leave the gel on for as long as possible, preferably overnight, before rinsing it off.
- Ginger: Mix some ginger root in warm olive oil and apply it on to your head. This is one of the most effective dry scalp home remedies, which not only gets rid of dandruff, but also nourishes your hair.
Essential oils are also an important part of natural remedies for dandruff. Some of the herbal oils recommended for curing dandruff include:
- Tea tree oil
- Lavender oil
- Rosemary oil
- Eucalyptus oil
- Clary sage oil
- Cypress oil
- Basil oil
- Thyme oil
- Birch oil
Make sure that you dilute these essential oils in some plain water before applying it on to your scalp.
There are several brands of over-the-counter dandruff shampoos that are also quite effective in treating the problem. Medicated dandruff shampoos include:
- Zinc pyrithione shampoo
- Tar-based shampoo
- Salicylic acid shampoo
- Selenium sulfide shampoo
- Ketoconazole shampoo
You may need to try a few different types of shampoos till you find the cure for dandruff that works for you. Massage the shampoo into the scalp thoroughly and leave it on for at least 5 minutes, before rinsing your hair. Once you notice a reduction in the dandruff, you can reduce the daily use to twice or three times a week.
Certain lifestyle changes may also help control dandruff to a great extent. These include:
- Following a healthy and nutritious diet
- Massaging the scalp with warm oil regularly
- Maintaining strict hygienic measures
- Practicing technique to reduce stress
- Avoiding commercial hair styling products and devices
- Scheduling regular appointments with hair care experts
- Getting an adequate amount of rest and exercise during the day
While most of the natural remedies for dandruff mentioned above are quite safe if used correctly, it is best to consult a doctor before trying any of them.
Diet for Treating Dandruff
There is no specific diet that you need to follow, in order to prevent dandruff. However, some of us may be suffering from this problem, because of nutritional deficiencies in our diets. Given below is some dietary advice to keep the dandruff away:
- Increase your intake of raw food, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and cereals. These foods boost your resistance to problems like dandruff
- Make sure that your diet contains high amounts of foods rich in Vitamin B, Omega 3 fatty acids and zinc.
- Cut down on your intake of red meat, oil, sweets, coffee, strong tea, junk and processed foods. Avoid eating candies, refined flour, baked items, pickles, condiments and salty snacks as far as possible.
- Enhance the flavor of your food by adding fresh herbs to it instead of using strong and pungent spices
- Opt for fresh sources of fruits and vegetables, instead of the frozen or canned varieties.
- Eliminate alcohol from your diet completely.
While these recommendations are quite safe if followed correctly, it is best to check with a doctor before making any changes to your existing diet. Depending upon the cause and the severity of the problem, your doctor may also advise you to add a vitamin or nutritional supplement to your daily diet.