What Causes Dandruff
Dandruff is caused when the natural cycle of skin renewal is speeded up. This leads to patches of dead skin forming on the surface of the scalp, which come away into the hair, resulting in the flakes associated with dandruff. What causes the skin renewal cycle to speed up is not always clear. Possible causes of dandruff may include:
- Dry skin. Simple dry skin is the most common cause of dandruff.
- Irritated, oily skin (seborrheic dermatitis). This condition, one of the most frequent causes of dandruff, is marked by red, greasy skin covered with flaky white or yellow scales.
- Not shampooing often enough.
- Other skin conditions. People with skin conditions such as eczema — a chronic, inflammatory skin condition — or psoriasis — a skin condition marked by a rapid buildup of rough, dry, dead skin cells that form thick scales — may appear to have dandruff.
- A yeast-like fungus (malassezia). Malassezia lives on the scalps of most adults, but for some, it irritates the scalp. This can irritate your scalp and cause more skin cells to grow.
- Sensitivity to hair care products. Sometimes sensitivities to certain ingredients in hair care products or hair dyes, especially paraphenylenediamine, can cause a red, itchy, scaly scalp. Shampooing too often or using too many styling products also may irritate your scalp, causing dandruff.
- Emotional stress.
- Very hot or cold climates.
- Having a weakened immune system.
Home Remedies for Dandruff
Aspirin contains the same active ingredient (salicylic acid) as many medicated dandruff shampoos. Keep flaking in check by crushing two aspirins to a fine powder and adding it to the normal amount of shampoo you use each time you wash your hair. Leave the mixture on your hair for 1-2 minutes, then rinse well and wash again with plain shampoo.
- You will need 2 aspirin tablets and shampoo.
- Crush the tablets. Add it to any normal shampoo.
- Let it lather and keep it on for 5 minutes.
- Wash your hair.
- If you feel the aspirin powder on your scalp, rinse again with plain shampoo.
2. Olive Oil
There are two ways in which olive oil can cure dandruff. One, olive oil moisturizes the dry areas of the scalp and prevents them from flaking. Two, olive oil can soak into the thick and scaly areas of the scalp that cause continuous dandruff issues. Because of this, the scaly areas fall down as one large piece instead of separate flakes. This helps put an end to dandruff as the affected spot can finally heal.
- Before going to bed, massage your scalp with warm olive oil every day.
- Cleanse your hair with a mild shampoo the next morning.
- Make sure you cover your head with a cotton wrap (to prevent your oily hair from attracting dust). Ensure the olive oil is just warm and not too hot.
3. Tea Tree Oil
One study showed that shampoos with just 5 percent tea tree oil significantly improves the severity of dandruff. You can also add a few drops of tea tree oil to your favorite shampoo as you wash normally.
Ginger contains anti-inflammatory properties and can also stimulate hair growth. Ginger, when mixed with oil improves circulation. The active components of ginger like volatile oils help prevent dandruff.
- Peel the ginger and grate it. Take about four ounces of sesame oil into a small cup.
- Squeeze the ginger in cheesecloth to get the oil. Mix the ginger oil and sesame oil.
- Massage your scalp gently with the oil. Leave your hair undisturbed and then wash it with a mild shampoo. Ginger oil, when combined with natural oil like sesame, can be an excellent ingredient to cure dandruff and promote hair health.
5. Apple Cider Vinegar
Dr. Mehmet Oz swears by apple cider vinegar as a dandruff remedy, as the acidity of apple cider vinegar changes the pH of your scalp, making it harder for yeast to grow.
- Mix a quarter cup apple cider vinegar with a quarter cup water in a spray bottle and spritz on your scalp.
- Wrap your head in a towel and let sit for 15 minutes to an hour, then wash your hair as usual. Do this twice a week.
6. Coconut Oil
Before showering, massage 3-5 tablespoons of coconut oil into your scalp and let sit for about an hour. Shampoo normally. You can also look for a shampoo that already contains coconut oil.
This might be an unconventional and unusual ingredient for hair. Unripe apples contain Procyanidin B-2, a natural compound that has been found to promote hair growth. Since untreated dandruff ultimately leads to hair fall, apples do play a role in keeping your hair healthy.
- Add two tablespoons of apple juice to an equal amount of water and apply onto your scalp.
- Leave it for about fifteen minutes and then wash your scalp with a mild shampoo.
Dandruff relief may be no farther away than your refrigerator. Just massage 2 tablespoons lemon juice into your scalp and rinse with water. Then stir 1 teaspoon lemon juice into 1 cup water and rinse your hair with it. Repeat this daily until your dandruff disappears. Lemon‘s acidity helps balance the pH of your scalp, which helps keeps dandruff at bay.
- You will need juice of 4 lemons or raw lemon slices. Rub lemon slices on your scalp and leave for 10-15 minutes. Rinse with plain water.
- Do this once a week to see results.
Take 1 to 2 teaspoons of flaxseed oil a day. It contains essential fatty acids, which seem to help itchy skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema—and possibly dandruff. Be patient; you may need to take it for up to 3 months to see a difference. A side benefit: Flaxseed oil also helps guard against heart disease.
Fenugreek is a plant that is used commonly as a spice, particularly in Indian cuisine; however it serves medicinal purposes as well. Fenugreek seeds have a composition that is rich in protein and amino acids, encouraging healthy hair/hair growth and warding off those wicked flakes in the process. A little bonus-its high concentration of lecithin (a natural emollient) can help make hair stronger overall, and many people find that it leaves their hair silky smooth and soft.
- You will need 2 tablespoons of Fenugreek seeds, a bowl of water and something to grind the seeds with.
- Soak the seeds in 1-2 cups of water overnight.
- The next morning, grind them into a fine paste and apply to your scalp.
- Leave it applied for 30-45 minutes, then wash with mild shampoo or water.
11. Lemon Juice with Sandalwood or Garlic
Another effective remedy for dandruff is lemon juice mixed with either sandalwood or garlic (both of which have antimicrobial properties).
- Mix one part lemon juice to two parts garlic or sandalwood and apply as a paste to the affected area of your scalp. The lemon juice will serve as an effective remedy against existing flakes, while the garlic or sandalwood will prevent against bacteria that can aid in flake growth.
- Leave this treatment in for 20 to 30 minutes and then rinse with a mild shampoo.
12. Neem Leaves
Neem leaves (also an Indian herb) make a great all-natural home remedy for your dandruff. Their properties not only relieve itching, they act as an antifungal as well, inhibiting the over-growth of dandruff causing fungus. Be aware that some people find its smell to be overwhelming.
- You will need at least 2 handfuls of neem leaves and 4-5 cups of hot water.
- Add two handfuls of neem leaves to 4 or 5 cups of hot water. Let it stand overnight.
- The next morning strain the liquid and use it to rinse your hair.
- You can also try making a paste out of leaves, applying it to your scalp, and letting it sit for about an hour before washing it off with water.
Take a small amount (enough to make a mask for your hair) of white sour curd or yogurt and leave it in the open for a day or two for fermentation. Whisk the curd and apply it to your scalp and hair like a mask and leave it on for an hour. Rinse it thoroughly with a mild shampoo. The acidic quality of the curd not only helps combat dandruff, but conditions it to give it a shiny, soft texture.
14. Black Pepper
Black pepper has long been used in India to treat dandruff due to the combination of zinc and selenium found in it, which are effective at fighting dandruff flakes.
- Rather than solely applying black pepper to the scalp, mix two teaspoons with a cup of yogurt and stir.
- Next, rub the blend into the affected area of your scalp and leave in for an hour or two.
- Following this, wash it out with a mild shampoo. This also acts as a great natural conditioner.
15. Get Some Sun
It’s not known exactly why, but there have been links between dandruff and exposure to sunlight. There have been many cases in which the severity of dandruff lessened when the afflicted person spent more time in the sun. It’s possible that instead of dry weather in the winter causing dandruff, it’s really the lack of sunlight. Maybe the light helps dry up some of the excess oil, or maybe getting a little time outside in the sun makes for a happier healthier human overall. Whatever the exact reason is, it’s something to try, and it’s probably one of the most straightforward home remedies you can try.
- Spend at least 10-15 minutes out in the sunlight every day that you can.
- Make sure to limit your time though-too much sun and it’s UV rays can be harmful to your skin, hair, and health.
Raw honey is a natural humectant that helps hair hold onto moisture while delivering a powerful infusion of vitamins A, C, D, E, B-complex, beta-carotene and tons of minerals including iron, magnesium, potassium, manganese, calcium, and phosphorous. Dandruff can plug hair follicles and prevent new hair from growing in, and honey eliminates dandruff.
In a study with thirty patients with seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff were asked to rub diluted honey on their scalp and massage for 2-3 minutes every other day, then leave it on for 3 hours. Itching was relieved and scaling disappeared within one week, while skin lesions were healed and disappeared completely within 2 weeks – those who continued the treatment once per week had no relapses. Twelve of the 15 patients who did not continue the honey regimen relapsed within 2-4 months. More on treating the root cause of dandruff at the bottom of this post.
17. Switch Shampoos
If your regular shampoo isn’t doing the trick, even with daily washing, it’s time to switch to an anti-dandruff shampoo. Check the ingredients in over-the-counter dandruff shampoos, and look for one that contains zinc pyrithione, which can reduce the fungus; selenium sulfide, which can limit cell turnover and possibly even decrease the amount of fungus; salicylic acid, which works as a sort of scrub to slough off dead skin; or ketoconazole, which works against a broad array of fungi.
18. Baking Soda
Your kitchen could hold the key to an itch-free, flake-free scalp. Wet your hair and then rub a handful of baking soda vigorously into your scalp. Skip the shampoo and go right to rinsing. Baking soda reduces overactive fungi that can cause dandruff. Your hair may get dried out at first, but after a few weeks your scalp will start producing natural oils, leaving your hair softer and free of flakes.
- You will need 2 tsp baking soda and few drops of water. Wash your hair with warm water. Add a few drops of water in baking soda to form a paste.
- Apply it on your scalp and massage it for a few minutes. Finally, rinse your hair with plain water or shampoo.
How to Prevent Dandruff
Avoid stress. Stress challenges the body’s defenses and encourages all sorts of ailments, including dandruff, so relax now and don’t worry about wearing a black shirt tomorrow.
Eat a healthy, balanced diet. As if you needed another reason to eat right, it turns out that a healthy diet may ward off the flakes.
- Make sure to get plenty of zinc, Omega-3 fatty acids, E and B-vitamins, and avoid excessive yeast and sugar. Research suggests that dandruff is at least in part caused by a fungus that thrives in yeasty, fatty, sugary environments.
Wash your hair regularly. Dandruff seems to thrive in oily hair, so regular shampooing can help you fight it off.
- If you already have dandruff, washing your hair may help you keep the symptoms (the flakes) under control until it goes away. Massage your scalp so that you clean your skin, as well as your hair.
- This is one time when the “repeat” directions in “wash, rinse, and repeat” may be useful. The first washing breaks up the waxy sebum, and the second washing helps rinse it all away.
Keep your hair moisturized. Lack of moisture makes hair dry, which is a major reason for oils and dandruff in hair. Use conditioners thrice a week to keep hair soft and moisturized. Also leave in conditioners are available that can be used. Remember that moisture is a precaution can prevent excessive dandruff in hair.
Brush your hair after you shower and shampoo. Brushing your hair will help distribute the oil that is naturally occurring in your scalp and hair over the entire surface of your head. Starting at your scalp, brush outward to help distribute oil from the scalp along your entire head.
Shampoo more. Many people are of the belief that dandruff is caused by dry skin, and try to make up for this by shampooing less so as to not strip the skin of its natural oils. They may also use special shampoo for dandruff when they really have dry scalp, which will just dry it out even more.
- One of the biggest causes of dandruff is oily skin-that is why the skin flakes are often greasy, not dry. The best way to combat this is to shampoo more rather than less.
- Since that dandruff is a build-up or excess of rapidly maturing skin cells, scrubbing with shampoo can help get the itchy layer off naturally.
Limit your use of hair styling products. Hairspray, mousse, and gel may contribute to dandruff in some people.
- The exception to this would be using a therapeutic styling gel or spray formulated with tea tree oil.
- Watch out for shampoos that are packaged to look like dandruff shampoos but only say that they will rinse away loose dandruff. Any shampoo will rinse away loose dandruff.
- Discontinue use of any anti-dandruff shampoo or medication if the condition worsens or spreads, or if you notice side effects. Consult your primary care physician or dermatologist if the problem doesn’t go away.
- Using more than one anti-dandruff product may cause redness and irritation.
- If the dandruff doesn’t begin to go away within 1 week seek medical attention.
- When you use shampoo, try adding a squirt of lemon juice. This can help reduce the effects of dandruff.
- Use some anti-dandruff grease. This can produce good results.
- Clean your hairbrush regularly in vinegar.