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Winter is coming! And winters always come, don’t they? They bring a lots of lovely snow fall with them! Then, what’s the issue? Yes, the issue is snow fall, when it is your scalp that is snowing instead of the skies! There’s itching, there are things falling all over the place, and then there is odor. Just when I was looking for a little more inspiration to jot down all the dandruff treatment methods and dry scalp remedies, I came across a line in the internet about someone being “conscious” about dandruff issues, (which is totally understandable) which stopped whoever it was from visiting the dermatologist!
But hey, that is what dermatologists are for, right? Anyway, this line was a huge inspiration for me to begin with this article, which I am sure is going to be pretty long (be prepared!). How about starting with the fact that there is absolutely no necessity for anyone to feel embarrassed about something treatable like dandruff? It shouldn’t be stopping you from seeing the doc, neither from wearing your blacks! So we’ll get started off with what exactly dandruff is, and then I can answer your “why me?” and then jump into the million dollar question – How to treat it.
What is Dandruff?
Scalp is often forgotten to be a part of the skin. Yes, just like the skin on the rest of your body functions, scalp works in the same way. Human skin produces an oil-like substance called sebum which most people suffering from acne are well aware of! It is the same sebum that causes dandruff too. Technically, it is not the sebum but the fungus that loves to feed on this sebum. When the population of a fungal species called Malassezia increases excessively and there’s enough sebum to feed on, it loves to settle down there for good.
But, What The Flake?
When Malasseziaglobosa is feeding on your sebum and other oils secreted by the scalp, it digests these oils and excretes what is called as oleic acid. As if life weren’t complicated already, the oleic acid travels all the way down inside your pores and makes your scalp shed its skin. That’s it – your flakes are ready!
Now, What Could Be The Causes Of Dandruff?
As I promised, I will now answer ‘why me.’ Although you can comfortably blame Malassezia for your dandruff, there could be some factors that are actually making it comfortable for that not-so-fun-guy(pun intended) to colonize quickly! Here are some:
- A Dry Scalp – It is considered to be an obvious cause because you see tons of dry skin falling on your shoulders which you think is dry skin. However, first of all, Dry Scalp Is Not Equal To Dandruff! It is a greasy scalp that causes the problem. Remember, I had just said that it is excessive oil that causes dandruff? Exactly! Nonetheless, a dry scalp could exacerbate the scaly flaking. So, it is the dead dry skin that is flaking. It would be better to say that a dry scalp causes flaking rather than calling it a cause of dandruff.
Hydrate your scalp sufficiently to avoid these dry scaly flakes.
- Infrequent Hair Washing – Oops! Not washing your hair at regular intervals means allowing more oil production and more oil means more food for Malassezia. So, make it a point to have a hair wash day once in 2-3 days.
- Extra Frequent Hair Washing –So, according to human logic, if too much oil is the problem, just keep washing it off. Ironically, scalp-logic is slightly different. There isn’t sufficient oil because everything is being washed off, so let me produce more and more oil to keep myself safe. And the result again is too much oil!
One interesting way of understanding your scalp’s hygiene needs is by understanding the nature of your hair. Tune-in and see if it is happy with even a wash once in 4 or 5 days. However, if you find any problems like bad odor, itch, dandruff, or hair fall go back to the standard prescribed frequency. But if you have done your experiments well and have arrived at the frequency that suits your hair type the best, there’s nothing like it. This is coming from personal experience. Find out your natural ‘personal’ – best way of healing, dandruff or otherwise!
- Not Combing Your Mane (The Right Way) – Another thing you could be doing wrong is, not combing your hair enough. While you run the comb through your hair, a lot of things happen. The oil produced on the scalp is spreading in all fours. There is equal distribution of oils from roots to ends and front to back. This avoids accumulation of sebum that could clog your pores on the scalp.
Using a clean, wide-toothed comb is a great way to spread the oil uniformly. Plus, just so that you know, sharing a comb with a person who has dandruff is not going to give you dandruff. Funnily, Malassezia is on just about everyone’s head. It is how your body deals with it and your hygiene conditions that are going to decide whether you will have dandruff or not. So, just take any comb (of course a clean one is not going to hurt anyone) and run it through your tresses once every day.
- Using Too Many Hair Products – Excessive usage of hair care products for styling could be causing dandruff. Even after regular hair washing, traces of products remain unwashed. Over a period of time it forms a product build-up and clogs your pores. This might lead to sebum overproduction and the story starts again. Also, remember that dandruff causing pathogens are lipid-loving. When you use gels or styling mousses, the pathogens are going to spread faster.
Try reducing your dependence on styling your hair on an everyday basis. Save it for your bad hair days. Do your research and avoid products that have harmful chemicals like parabens. Try switching to natural or organic counterparts of your products. Better still, bring your hair to its absolutely natural and healthy-looking stage and embrace it for good!
- A Hormonal Imbalance – Dandruff is usually observed in children who have hit their puberty. This speaks about the fact that dandruff has a lot to do with hormones, and why not? If we know that increased oil production is an underlying reason, and we also know that excessive production of hormones like testosterone can lead to excess oil secretion; isn’t the connection clear?
Apart from trying to take preventive measure and following remedies to solve dandruff, sit back and try to fix the hormones
How To Get Rid Of Dandruff… (Naturally/At Home/Fast/Quickly/Permanently – Such ambitious goals!Jokes apart, since it is possible, here you go…)
Out of the hundreds of healing properties of Neem, the one we are concerned about here is its anti-fungal property. The benefits of leaves of Neem are so many that Ayurveda calls this – “SarvaRogaNivarini” (The one who heals all diseases). This one-stop-solution for all diseases hasn’t spared scalp infections and dandruff issues either. There are multiple ways in which you can use Neem as a safe and natural dandruff treatment. Choose one!
- Neem-Infused Oil – Heat an oil of your choice, preferably Coconut oil and add Neem leaves to it. Remove it off the heat and massage this oil all over the scalp. You could also blend a tablespoon of this to your shampoo. Avoid mixing oil in the entire shampoo bottle. Just take the amount that is sufficient for one wash and blend the oil in it.
- Neem-Seed Oil – Another way of reaping the antifungal benefits of Neem is by using the oil extracted from the seeds. This, however, could be strong and way too concentrated. You shouldmix it in milder oils like Coconut oil before applying on the scalp. This not only takes care of the flakes but also reduces itching and dryness.
- Neem Leaf Powder – An alternative to oil is using powdered dry leaves. Dissolve the powder in water to bring it into a consistency that is easy to apply on the scalp. For extra benefits you could make the paste with yogurt instead of water. This will work as a conditioner and also cleanses all the pathogens from the scalp without drying your scalp.
- Neem Rinse – If you find it cumbersome to make a paste or oil, try a simpler way to enjoy the benefits of Neem. Boil Neem leaves in water and strain the leaves off. After you have shampooed and conditioned your hair, rinse it with this solution. The effects last longer because it acts like a leave-on tonic protecting your scalp.
Technically speaking, dandruff remedies work or are believed to work either because they have some kind of an antimicrobial property, or they condition the scalp to reduce scalp dryness, or have a cooling effect that can solve the itch. Yogurt does all of them. You could be using the best of the anti-dandruff shampoos – salon-grade, organic, natural – but could still be thinking of how to get rid of dandruff.
One simple answer is that, stop and think of the microbiome of your scalp. If the good bacteria have been time and again ripped off with all your shampoo treatments along with bacteria, it isn’t going to the solve the problem. You ought to maintain a balance by allowing the good ones to grow and the bad ones to die (isn’t that a simple life hack, for dandruff or otherwise?) Yogurt is going to help you do that. Nonetheless, you can’t expect an instant shampoo-like result. Give it some time and nourish the scalp to increase the population of beneficial bacteria with yogurt.
Lemons make you feel fresh even at the very sight and sniff, don’t they? That is probably why lemons go into all cleaning agents possible! If your scalp feels greasy and you have odor-issues caused by the pathogens on the scalp along with flaky dandruff, using lemon juice is one of the best remedies. Lemons are replete with ascorbic acid and anti-oxidants which contribute to the pathogen-fighting abilities of lemon. Plus, this organic acid balances the scalp pH, which is one of the main factors for healthy bacteria to thrive, rather than the harmful ones. Add 5-10 drops of lemon to the oil or shampoo you use and rinse it off thoroughly.
These bitter-tasting seeds have been a loyal culinary companion of Indian cuisines since ages! They not only are condiments that enhance the taste of Indian food, but are loaded with innumerable medicinal properties packed safely in each seed. They have anti fungal properties that help in removing all the accumulated fungi that have been thriving on the roots of your scalps. These fungi block the follicles and even cause hair fall. However, Fenugreek takes care of all of that!
If you are wondering how to use these seeds over your scalp, just soak a tablespoon of these seeds in water for a few hours and make a paste. Apply this like a hair mask, allow it to sit and work its magic for 30 minutes and rinse with lukewarm water.
5. Aloe Vera Gel
Aloe, the wonder herb, is a must-try if you are looking for a natural dry scalp treatment. Make it your bedtime ritual to rub some freshly extracted Aloe gel (isn’t that a wonderful excuse to grow your own Aloe?) on the scalp. Have you ever wondered that surprisingly your itching sensation becomes 10 times more intense just when you are trying to get some sleep? If you are tired of those night-time never-ending flaking and itching, Aloe gel is finally going to take care of it. It’s got glycoprotein in it, which soothes the scalp and its anti-inflammatory property will relieve you instantly of the itching.
Plus, by applying Aloe gel to the scalp you would be boosting the growth of new and healthy cells on the scalp. The substance called pectin is what gives the gel-like consistency, and this substance helps new cells grow. This way the scalp is better equipped to fight with the persisting infection. And finally, the fungus-killing ability of aloe gel is going to address the roots of your dandruff problem.
Salt for dandruff? Am I sure? Yes I am. In fact, I’d like to add Himalayan Pink/Sea Salt preferably. Would you believe if I told you that a good soak in the sea is going to be your go to dandruff solution? And unfortunately, if you can’t go to the sea, the sea can fortunately come to you. Wondering how? It is the salt in the sea water that is going to grab all the excess oil build-up on the scalp and remove all the fungi thriving on that oil.
So if you don’t live anywhere close to a coast, bring your bottle of Sea Salt or Himalayan Salt today and make your own ocean in a bottle. You could use a salt solution as an after-wash rinse, or add a bit of either of the salts to your shampoo! In fact, you could also have some fun sprinkling salt on wet tresses and massaging it into the roots!
7. Egg Yolk
Egg Yolks have been in use for hair care since quite some time now. A quick way to pamper your tresses is to grab some eggs and beat the yolk out of them! There are two major components in egg that are going to help you, first with dandruff and then as an effective dry scalp remedy – sulphur and lecithin, respectively! Apart from that, you get a bonus of minerals like selenium. Although egg yolks are amazing to cleanse and nourish your scalp, it could be a little irksome to use them on the hair. You could make some emulsions or hair marks out of eggs to make it look slightly more appealing than it is.
One mask you could try is the Olive oil-egg yolk pack. Just add a tablespoon of Olive oil to egg yolks and make a blend out of it. Work them on your scalp for ten minutes or so and wear a shower cap. Let it sit for 20-30 minutes. You could also indulge in a deep conditioning session if you wish to – just wrap a hot towel until all the heat penetrates the roots. Rinse with mild shampoo and conditioner.
8. Coconut oil
Is there anything Coconut oil can’t treat? Dandruff joins the league! There has been extensive research done on this and all of it just proves that Coconut oil is anti-everything – inflammatory, bacterial, viral, fungal, and what not! Just talking about Coconut oil makes my scalp feel fresh!
Regular hot oil massage with pure Coconut oil is the simplest, and let me stress, fastest method of getting rid of dandruff. It is going to moisturize your scalp just enough – neither too greasy, nor too dry! Coconut oil is penetrative and works really well on your roots to remove the sebum accumulation. A very common practice in many Indian households is adding juice of half a lemon. This way, the power of fighting against pathogens is only going to get doubled!
9. Indigo Herb
Indigo is one of the herbs that has been rampantly taken advantage of in the cosmetic industry. It is primarily known for its hair-darkening property. However, some of the less-known properties of Indigo are its abilities to fight dandruff and reduce inflammation. The most widely available form is Indigo herb oil. However, if you happen to find the seeds or the bark of Indigo, it is one of the most effective natural remedies for dandruff.
In many cultures worldwide, Garlic is considered to be an all-treating medicinal remedy. In fact, Egyptians apparently used to take vows in the name of Garlic as they considered it sacred. And using Garlic to treat skin diseases by topical application and internal consumption was a common practice for every possible disease. Its ability to fight pathogens, be it bacteria or fungi, is the main reason for its rampant use.
Apart from that,Garlic aids in supporting the body’s immune system by hastening the functions performed by WBCs. The scalp, as such, even without using any medicine is trying hard on its own to fight the infection. A remedy like Garlic is going to give that extra support and immunity boost for the body to do everything it can while fighting the infection off.
11. Bhringraj Oil
Application of Bhringraj is not in any way a new practice in Indian houses. Women who want thick lustrous tresses make it a regular regime to massage this oil on their scalps the day before washing their hair. Well, you must do this too. Apart from the fact that it promotes hair growth and strength, it also helps steer away dandruff by cleansing the scalp.
One quality that oil should have in order to be effective remedy for solving scalp diseases is the ability to penetrate. Since Bhringraj oil is a dense oil, it penetrates inside easily and acts on the stubborn pathogens causing itch and flakes. Plus, it works as a wonderful conditioner if you have a dry scalp. Give your follicles the care it needs and massage for at least 10 minutes to improve blood circulation and penetration of the oil.
12. Hair Clay Masks
Soak away your tresses and scalp in all the minerals that the Earth could possibly offer you. I personally feel this is one of the most luxurious spa treatments you could ever indulge in, for, it is Mommy Earth directly descending to heal you inside out. Here are some kinds of clays you can try to get permanently rid of dandruff and in fact, any scalp and skin problem!
- Rhassoul Clay – Morocco was thought to have given the mankind onlyone boon called Argan Oil. However, if you have ever had a detoxifying bath with RhassoulClay, you will know what else blessed Morocco has gifted along with that ‘liquid gold’.
This clay is a natural outcome of volcanic eruptions straight from the core of the Earth. It has abundant amounts of calcium, potassium, magnesium, and silica. Plus, it has an astonishing power of pulling off all the impurities (positively charged) owing to its strong negative charge. This is exactly why it is going to pull, right from the roots, all the impurities and sebum build-up clogging your pores.
You can in fact feel this pulling action while the mask sits on your head in a form of slight tingling sensation. In spite of such powerful ‘pulling’ action it is not going to dry your scalp excessively. On the contrary, it is going to leave a conditioning and moisturizing effect on your scalp.
Just to enhance the healing properties of Rhassoul Clay, add some Argan oil and incorporate the mask on your scalp. Massage for around 30 seconds or maximum 1 minute and rinse thoroughly. When the mask dries and solidifies, it can potentially cause hair breakage, which is why you shouldn’t have this mask on your hair for a long time.
- Bentonite Clay – If product overuse has led to havoc in your scalp and hair health, it is time you stopped using them for good. However, stopping the usage isn’t going to immediately solve the problem. You have to undo all the harm that you have been doing to your hair for years together! That sounds a bit too heavy, doesn’t it? Fret not, there’s always a solution. Detox it is! Bentonite clay is a great way to cleanse the scalp and clarify all the germ build-up and product build-up.
This is a naturally occurring calcium-rich ash clay whose source can also be traced back to the volcanic eruptions. The minerals and the power of the clay to pull all the toxins and chemicals from the pores are immensely helpful if you want to enhance the quality of your scalp and hair, in general. Getting rid of chronic dandruff is just one part of it!
Just make sure you use a plastic bowl to make a Bentonite clay mask because it is reacts with metal and this might decrease the efficacy of the clay. Plus, since it is detoxifying clay, try and make a mask with moisturizing ingredients like raw honey or fresh yogurt to avoid feeling too dry after the wash.
13. Manuka Honey
Manuka honey is gaining quite a bit of attention by the day. Although it is quite an age-old practice of using Manuka honey for healing purposes, the usage was confined just to the native country – New Zealand. However, this is a powerful antibacterial agent. Manuka honey, being an extraordinary humectant, makes a precious dry scalp remedy.
Nonetheless, in case you find it difficult to get hold of a bottle of Manuka honey, using any raw organic honey will help you substantially. Remember that honey is photosensitive. So, avoid going out in the sun post your honey scalp treatment at all costs. Otherwise you will end up treating dandruff but will have to next deal with grey hair!
Use either of the honeys, but just make sure they are pure and organic. Remember that honey has to sit on your head for a while and it is going to actually enter your follicles. This makes it essential for you to use absolutely pure honey. People suffering from chronic dandruff and uncontrollable itch swear by this dandruff remedy; that it treated their scaly flaky scalps and also the persistent itch. Plus, if you have lesions and wounds on the scalp because of constant scratching, the anti-inflammatory and wound-healing properties of honey look after that too!
Essential Oils You Could Use as Natural Remedies for Dandruff
For every problem, there is an essential oil. In fact, there are essential oils. Here’s a list of essential oils for dandruff that could rid you of the problem quickly. You will see results right from the first wash. So pick one, or just combine two or more varieties and make an anti-dandruff tonic and make that a part of your hair care regime.
14. Lemongrass Essential Oil
One of the most effective essential oils you can’t miss out on, if you intend to get rid of dandruff. The substance citral, present in lemongrass essentialoil, has powerful antifungal properties. It shows an inhibitory effect on the fungal species Malassezia, which is known to be the primary cause of stubborn dandruff. You could benefit from the goodness of this essential oil either by adding few drops in carrier oils like Jojoba or Coconut oil or you could add some drops to your shampoo.
15. Tea Tree Oil
Tea Tree Oil is another hot favorite among people who look for natural ways to get rid of dandruff. This pungent smelling essential oil, manufactured by the process of steam distillation of the leaves of tea tree, has been proved to have antifungal qualities. Just a few drops of the oil are enough to be able to see improvement.
Topical application of the oil (always dilute the oil in carrier oils of your choice) twice a week until you see differences is the best way to get rid of dandruff. You will experience visibly less flaking in no time and immense relief from constant itching.
16. Rosemary Oil
Rosemary is one among the most reputed essential oils known for its therapeutic properties. It heals infections on skin and hair and makes a wonderful component of everyone’s beauty kit. The oil has a very camphor-like smell. Inhaling it takes into a zone of complete calm. Interestingly, it is highly effective to treat dandruff owing to its antimicrobial functions. It is a powerful anti-acne remedy which in itself is a signpost that it is going to solve your greasy scalp and dandruff issues.
Again, like most essential oils, Rosemary also should be diluted in a carrier oil (2 drops of Rosemary oil for every spoon of carrier oil) and applied topically all over the scalp. Plus, Rosemary oil is excellent at promoting blood circulation. This is further going to help your system fight against the pathogens apart from relieving you of pain and inflammation if any.
17. Cedar Wood Oil
This woody-smelling essential oil is a powerful anti-fungal and can relieve you of serious chronic dandruff. It is in fact, even more effective at treating dry and flaky scalp. It is popularly used for the treatment of eczema and hair-fall issues like alopecia. It gives the nourishment the scalp needs and strengthens the hair from the follicles. No wonder it is called the “hair tonic,” for it takes care of strengthening the roots, promoting healthy hair growth, reduces scalp dryness, and inhibits the fungal growth.
You could use Cedar Wood in isolation with carrier oils or also make a blend with other essential oils like Rosemary that go with it exceptionally well and amplify the anti-dandruff effect.
18. Spearmint/Peppermint Oil
Have you observed that quite often than not dandruff shampoos have a cooling after-effect? If you don’t want to use a store-bought shampoo but still want to enjoy the menthol effect, mint is your option. Mint oil is not only going to give you instant solace from uncontrollable itching but is also going to deal with the main underlying problem that’s causing the itch as it is an effective antiseptic.
The after-scratch soreness is really intolerable sometimes and only a person who has dealt with a problem like that can understand how serious a problem itch is. To rid yourself once and for all of your helpless itching and dandruff, use Spearmint and Peppermint essential oils, together or either of them individually.
They are antibacterial and anti-inflammatory in nature – both qualities that are going to benefit you immensely and can be considered a best dandruff treatment. Just remember to dilute them before directly applying as they could be really concentrated and strong for your already sensitive scalp.They are highly volatile and it is always better if used judiciously. Refrain from using if you observe any allergic reactions.
19. Thyme Infusion Rinse
When it comes to treating dandruff, Thyme and Rosemary usually go with each other. Like Rosemary, Thyme also cleanses your scalp to help you get rid of the sebum accumulation, fungal and bacterial build up and yes, also inflammation. The substance in Thyme that does all this for you is thymol. It is an antiseptic and specifically anti fungal which makes it a home remedy for any fungal infections like toe nail fungus, for instance. You could use Thyme oil to treat scalp dryness and infection. However, a more effective way of using Thyme for hair dandruff is by rinsing with Thyme water.
Add dried Thyme leaves to boiling water (2 tablespoons of Thyme to approximately one cup of boiling water.) Allow the leaves to steep, and once the infusion is ready, filter the leaves off. Shampoo your hair with a mild one, condition if you want to, and then finish it with rinsing your hair with this Thyme water. Remember not to rinse with water again. This Thyme water is an after-was leave-on anti fungal treatment. Since Rosemary and Thyme go hand-in-hand in perfect rhyme, you can use them in conjunction. Plus, you could fill this concoction in a spray bottle and use it as a spray-on rather than a rinse.
20. The Dandruff Diet
Zinc – Well, it is not always what goes on to your body, it is also what is going into your body. Include lots of zinc in your diet, because this mineral has the capacity to charge your immune system and enhance the infection-fighting efficiency of the body. Plus, zinc helps immensely with reducing inflammation. Another reason zinc should be of your concern is because zinc has a major hand in the regulation of the right amount of sebum on the scalp.
This is exactly why most anti-dandruff products have an ingredient in common called zinc pyrithione. Although topical application of this ingredient is going to help you, eat foods rich in zinc like spinach, oysters, watermelon and pumpkin seeds, and lamb.
Vitamin B6 – Also increase your consumption of foods rich in Vitamin B6, because for better absorption of zinc, your body requires B6. Soy products, sea food, and nuts are all rich in vitamin B6. One of the foods highest in B6 content is chickpeas. One cup of chickpeas contributes to more than 50% of your everyday B6 requirement.
See, I told you this is trivial, and more importantly,treatable! Now you know at least 20 ways to get rid of dandruff. This should make you a lot less ‘conscious’ now. And you know what can give you that confidence boost? To realizing that it is just some folks invading your personal scalp space and that you can kick them out in no time. For a person struggling with chronic dandruff, this might seem like oversimplifying things, but really – that is all there is to it!