Dandruff is a common skin issue that affects the scalp of millions of women and men. A dry or oily scalp that causes dead skin cells or white flakes to shed all over can be an annoying hair issue.
When you have dandruff, it’s important to learn about the causes, symptoms, treatments, home remedies, and best shampoos to use. If you’re researching ways to get rid of dandruff naturally, this guide will help you get it out of your hair for good!
What Is Dandruff?
Dandruff is a widespread medical condition characterized by flakes of shedding skin. There are a lot of stigmas surrounding dandruff.
Contrary to popular belief, dandruff isn’t contagious, nor is it caused exclusively by poor hygiene; although it may be more readily visible in hair that is unwashed or messy.
Many people think that dandruff is a result of having a dry scalp, but actually the problem lies at the other end of the spectrum. Most dandruff is the result of seborrheic dermatitis, a persistent skin condition which causes the scalp to produce too much oil. Seborrheic dermatitis is actually flakes of waxy, overly oily skin being shed from the scalp, not dry skin.
Seborrheic dermatitis usually makes its first appearance around the onset of puberty, and can linger until you’re in your fifties. There is no one known cause of seborrheic dermatitis, and no real way to determine why some people get it and others don’t.
Besides the characteristic flakes, symptoms like red skin, itchiness, and patches of greasy skin can be signs that you have seborrheic dermatitis. Instead of seeing a doctor, most women and men get rid of dandruff with a medicated shampoo designed to treat the scalp.
Reviews from hair care experts can easily help you find a list of anti-dandruff shampoo products that will treat your unique skin condition.
Causes of Seborrheic Dermatitis
Seborrheic dermatitis can have several different causes. Certain irritating skin conditions including eczema and psoriasis lead to flaky skin, as does a fungus called malassezia.
Dandruff can also be caused by a buildup of hair care products or a bad reaction to hair care products (also known as contact dermatitis). An overproduction of sebum, an oily substance produced by your sebaceous glands can also cause dandruff.
While sebum is important in keeping hair moisturized and healthy, an overabundance of it will irritate skin and cause flakes.
Dandruff is more prevalent in men than in women, so there has been speculation that male hormones may play a role in dandruff.
Finally, there has been some research that indicates dandruff can crop up more frequently in people with weakened immune systems or in people with neurological conditions including Parkinson’s disease.
How To Treat Dandruff
The bad news is, there is no real cure for dandruff. The good news is, there are plenty of ways to keep your dandruff well-managed. Yes, there are many potential causes for dandruff. But there are just as many prospective treatments to get dandruff under control.
If you’re mostly just worried about the immediate visible effects of dandruff, there is a way to manage your flakes quickly in a pinch.
Examine your scalp and find out where you have the most visible dandruff. Spray in a small amount of dry shampoo, or sprinkle a little baby powder over the flakiest spots.
Be very sparing with this, especially if you have dark hair – both products can be highly visible if used in excess.
Finish by taking a fine-toothed comb and carefully combing through the dandruff. Rinse flakes off the comb after each pass, then dry the comb and run it through your hair again.
Repeat until you’re flake-free. The dry shampoo will lubricate your hair so that the flakes won’t cling to it.
If your hair doesn’t have visible flakes, but you worry about flakes showing up on your clothes, simply avoid wearing dark shirts that provide a high-contrast backdrop for white flakes.
And if your husband has facial hair, he’ll absolutely want to maintain his beard with proper grooming tips to avoid developing dandruff there.
Medicated shampoos are probably the best-known treatment for fighting dandruff. Different anti-dandruff shampoos have different core ingredients. The kind of shampoo you use will depend on what is causing your dandruff.
If the fungus malassezia is the culprit, you’ll want to use an anti-dandruff shampoo with ketoconazole, an antifungal agent. Malassezia can also be treated with pyrithione zinc. Pyrithione zinc, in turn, also treats seborrheic dermatitis.
So a shampoo with pyrithione zinc can take down a few different causes of dandruff. Coal tar extract is a less common ingredient, but still one that can be found in certain medicated shampoos.
There’s an old saying that you can fight fire with fire. It turns out you can also fight oil with oil. Overactive sebaceous glands are one of the main causes of dandruff.
While it may seem logical that you should treat dandruff caused by too much sebum by trying to dry out your scalp’s natural oils, that’s actually the opposite of what you should do.
Your body starts producing too much sebum because it’s trying to overcompensate for dry scalp.
There are several different oils that you can apply to your hair to help fight dandruff. Tea tree oil is a great option. It’s antifungal, so it can treat dandruff caused by malassezia.
It also has a pleasant, tingly sensation which can help soothe the itchiness and inflammation associated with dandruff. Just apply a small amount to your scalp and gently rub it in with your fingertips.
Coconut oil is known to be beneficial in the treatment of eczema. It also makes an excellent all-natural deep conditioner for hair, so you can kill two birds with one stone.
Natural and organic dandruff shampoos are packed with a plethora of other essential and carrier oils. They include lavender oil, jojoba oil, peppermint oil, Moroccan argan oil, peach kernel oil, and more.
Look for products containing these oils if you’re seeking to control your dandruff by restoring balance to your natural scalp oils.
In addition to oils, there are several all-natural ingredients you can apply to your hair separately or look for as part of an organic anti-dandruff shampoo.
Aloe vera is a natural antifungal agent that is known for soothing itching and burning associated with dandruff and other skin sensitivities.
Other Dandruff Treatments
Dandruff isn’t just about what you put on your head and in your hair: it can flare up because of environmental factors. Be sure you’re getting a little bit of sun every day.
A little bit of sunlight may help keep dandruff under control. Just don’t overdo it, and be sure to wear sunscreen.
Eat a healthy and well-balanced diet. Foods that are rich in B vitamins, zinc, and certain types of fats are thought to help prevent dandruff.
And finally, keep your stress levels in check by engaging in acts of self-care like meditation or massage. Stress can exacerbate all kinds of health conditions, and can trigger or worsen a flare-up of dandruff. Managing your stress levels can actually help you fend off flakes before they can start.