The itchy, uncomfortable feeling and unsightly white flakes right on the shoulder of your nice black dress that come with dandruff get old fast.
Dandruff, also called Seborrhoea, is caused when a fungus called Malassezia grows on your scalp. This results in shedding of the scalp skin. There are two types of dandruff – one occurs due to the dryness of the scalp, while the other occurs due to the excessive production of oil on the scalp. It is a very common skin condition that nearly all people experience at some point in their lives regardless of age or ethnicity. It affects the not just the scalp, but also the ears, eyebrows, sides of the nose, beard, and less commonly the central (often hair-bearing) part of the chest.
Dandruff may be triggered or made worse by any of the following conditions:
– Oily skin
– Oily scalp
– Poor hygiene
– Weather (hot and humid or cold and dry)
– Infrequent washing or shampooing
– Poor immune system
– Chronic illness
– Emotional or mental stress
– Haircare products
Conventional treatments like shampoos, steroids and coal tar can help, but they are far from natural or safe.
Since dandruff is caused by microbes and dry scalp, anti-fungal agents and moisturizers both help. Whatever remedies are used, consistency is key. Improvements can be seen after the first use, but these natural remedies need to be used long term for best results. Most studies have shown the most success when used for three to six months (or longer).
1. Raw Honey
Raw honey is a nutritional powerhouse with its proteins, amino acids, vitamins, enzymes, and minerals. Raw honey is emollient, humectant, healing, antimicrobial, and soothing to the scalp, while conditioning the hair. This sticky sweet substance also helps prevent pathogen infections and keeps the microbes that cause dandruff in check. Combine 1-2 TBSP of honey (I use this unfiltered organic and raw honey) with 2/3 cup of warm water and stir to dissolve. Rinse hair with the honey mixture and use the fingers to work it through the hair and over the scalp.
2. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil contains medium-chain fatty acids, including lauric acid and capric acid, it has strong antiviral, antimicrobial and antifungal properties. These properties help target and kill the fungus and any viruses or bacteria that may exist. In many, results can occur within just a week or so.
3. Tea Tree Oil
Tea Tree oil has long been used for scalp and skin conditions because of its potent cleansing and anti-fungal properties. One 2011 study found that tea tree essential oil was effective against all of the dandruff-causing malassezia species tested. Researchers found that just a .25% dilution of tea tree inhibited the fungi that can cause dandruff. For practical purposes, this would be about 6 drops of essential oil to every ½ cup of carrier.
4. Aloe Vera Gel
Benefit-rich aloe vera has been known to soothe and help heal irritated skin. New York dermatologist Michele Green, MD, notes that in a small study, aloe eased itching and scaly skin in people with seborrheic dermatitis, a more severe skin condition that can create dandruff.
A study in Hungary found that probiotics reduced the overall symptoms of dandruff by 57%. The strains used helped to regulate the skin’s immune function and reduced scalp itching and greasiness. Over time, the malassezia yeast counts declined, as did the irritation and redness. Consume fermented and probiotic rich foods daily. Kombucha, fermented vegetables, sauerkraut, water kefir, milk kefir and yogurt are all good options. Those with autoimmune conditions may find that dairy aggravates the issue further. Taking a high quality probiotic supplement can also be helpful.
6. Olive Oil
The olive oil can temporarily remove dandruff flakes. Just apply a little bit of unrefined organic olive oil to scaly patches on the scalp. Let it sit for about an hour, then use a comb or brush to smooth out the hair.
7. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar contains malic acid to naturally slough off excess skin cells. The acidic pH also helps to close hair cuticles on the scalp. Vinegar’s acetic acid attacks the yeast and bacteria that can cause dandruff. Combine equal parts ACV with water and massage onto the scalp. Let it sit for a few minutes and rinse. Repeat for 5–7 days and see if you notice a difference. If you experience any irritation, discontinue or use every other day for 7–10 days to see if there is improvement.
8. Omega 3s
Add omega-3 foods into your diet such as from fresh, wild-caught salmon or chia seeds. The omega 3s can help provide much needed hydration for your skin from within; therefore, they may reduce dandruff.
9. Drink Water
Lack of enough water in the bodies causes dry skin, and this is one of the many reasons to drink water! It is very important to drink plenty of water daily to help your overall health as well as the dryness of your skin and scalp.
10. Reduce Stress
Skin irritations are often caused by depression, anxiety and stress. Try to pay attention to changes in your skin at these times and more importantly, try to avoid these feelings by implementing stress reduction behaviors and techniques. Try yoga, short walks or workouts, massage therapy and diffusing lavender. In addition, deficiencies in vitamins, minerals and other nutrients found in omega 3s may increase the risk of getting dandruff. Fish oil may work as a dry scalp remedy for healthy skin and hair to combat dandruff.
Many commercial shampoos contain chemicals that are harmful, and dandruff shampoos are even worse. And within shampoos and hair products, make sure you avoid parabens, sodium laureth or lauryl sulfate. It is always best to go natural.