We all get bothered by the white flakes that appear on our shoulders and are embarrassed to brush them off in public.
Dandruff occurs due to the environment of the scalp which might make it more prone to developing mycotic infections, causing the skin of the scalp to become flaky. The most common symptoms of dandruff are the presence of skin flakes on the scalp, hair, face, shoulders, and a scaly and itchy scalp. Dandruff is not contagious or harmful but it makes our scalp itchy and may affect the individual’s confidence.
Causes and Risk Factors of Dandruff
Some causes of dandruff include:
- Dry or oily skin
- Allergies to Hair products
- Yeastlike fungus (Malassezia) whose food source is oil on the scalp of adults
- Seborrheic dermatitis
Risk factors include:
- Choice of hair products
- Medical conditions such as Parkinson’s
Natural Remedies to Treat Dandruff
Managing dandruff naturally may require some lifestyle changes and the use of some home remedies.
- Reduce stress
- Avoid using harsh chemicals on hair
- Having a balanced diet
- Avoid processed food, red meat, fried food, gluten-based products
Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil is a natural essential oil extracted from the leaves of a shrub (Melaleuca Alternifolia), native to Australia. It has been used as a remedy for various skin problems such as acne. Tea tree oil’s antifungal and antimicrobial properties make it useful to treat dandruff. One study assessing the efficacy of tea tree oil in the treatment of dandruff observed that tea tree oil mixed with oil or shampoo is effective against dandruff.
It is known to reduce inflammation, itchiness and oil in the scalp. Tea tree oil also helps in healing lesions caused by fungus. However, it can cause irritation in some people who have sensitive skin. Using it in its diluted form is the most recommended way.
Neem is a common herb in Asian households, especially in India. The leaves of this tree contain antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and antifungal properties and as such, they have multiple therapeutic applications. Like tea tree oil, neem leaves extract works against P. ovale (Pityrosporum ovale or Malassezia), the most common fungi causing dandruff. It can be used in different formulations i.e. as neem oil, hair mask or rinsing hair with boiled neem leaves.
Coconut oil keeps hair nourished, and hydrated and prevents the development of flakes on the scalp. It has antimicrobial and antifungal properties and works best when mixed with lemon. It also helps treat eczema and atopic dermatitis.
Aloe vera is a natural herb which works miraculously on the skin and the scalp. It provides moisture to the scalp, reduces flakiness and has antibacterial and antifungal properties. Aloe vera is applied directly on the scalp and rinsed off after half an hour.
Yoghurt is a natural probiotic and prevents flaky scalps. Yoghurt can be applied to hair for 15 minutes before it is rinsed off and hair is washed with shampoo. Probiotics help in fighting fungal infections which cause dandruff and prevent skin conditions such as eczema and dermatitis.
Fenugreek seeds provide strength to hair and moisturize the scalp. These seeds are rich in protein and prevent hair fall and dandruff. The seeds are soaked overnight before they are ground to make a paste that is then applied to hair for 15 to 20 minutes before rinsing off with a mild shampoo.
Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is acidic in nature and prevents the growth of fungus, removes dead skin cells, manages pH, and prevents dandruff. It should be used in highly diluted forms i.e. mix 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in water and wash hair with normal shampoo. It is the best home remedy for treating severe dandruff. Mixing apple cider vinegar with banana further boosts the treatment of dandruff as banana improves blood circulation, enhances skin health and is a rich source of vitamin B.
Another readily available natural remedy for the treatment of dandruff is baking soda. It acts as an exfoliant, removing dead cells and reducing scaling and itching in the scalp. The antifungal properties of baking soda also help treat dandruff. Baking soda is best applied on damp hair followed by gently rinsing the hair after 1-2 minutes of application.
The major component of aspirin is salicylic acid which helps to treat dandruff. Aspirin powder can be added to shampoo to treat scaly and flaky skin.
The easiest way to treat dandruff is by applying lemon juice to the scalp for 2-3 minutes before rinsing off with shampoo. The acidic nature of lemon also helps in balancing the pH of the scalp.
Other common natural remedies include omega-3 fatty acids, Heena, the peel of citrus fruits such as orange, egg yolk (contains biotin), green tea (antifungal property), fuller’s earth, basil leaves, olive oil, and garlic.