It is uncomfortable and embarrassing when white skin flakes fall over your shoulder whenever you scratch your head. And those white flakes become more visible when you are wearing dark-colored attire.
But it is not only the obnoxious appearance of those scalp flakes that make dandruff a problem, but itchiness follows dandruff that leaves you with tingling skin always. Many people’s dandruff also causes other symptoms like greasy patches on the scalp.
However, the good news is that it is easy to treat dandruff, a common problem in infants and adults worldwide. Over 40% of infants suffer from dandruff problems, while up to 3% of adults have dandruff issues.
Multiple factors, such as seborrheic dermatitis, dry skin, and a specific type of fungus, can cause dandruff problems. However, many over-the-counter products and natural remedies are often effective in reversing dandruff.
This article aims at finding the most effective ways to treat and control dandruff. Read this article till the end and find the right treatment plan that best meets your needs.
What Is Dandruff?
Most people can quickly diagnose that they are suffering from dandruff once they find white flakes on their shoulders. Many believe that dry scalp and unhygienic hair care routines, such as not washing the hair frequently or shampooing, can cause the issue. And from that common belief, the concept of slathering on oil to solve dandruff came up. But this could end up making the condition even worse.
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Although white flakes are a common symptom of dandruff, other scalp ailments and an oily scalp can contribute to dandruff alongside a naturally occurring fungus known as Malassezia Globosa.
When weather conditions, stress, and other factors such as pollution trigger excessive oil secretion, our scalp can have potential buildup. Extreme oil saturation creates a perfect home for the Malassezia fungus to break down the secreted oil into oleic acid that our skin can be sensitive towards.
And if our body reacts to the irritation, it can lead to the aggressive growth of skin cells on the scalp that are shed as white, grey, or white-yellow flakes, which we call dandruff. And as we all know that dandruff is associated with specific symptoms like itchiness and redness; it is easy to differentiate what is dandruff and what is not.
How Is Dandruff Problem Diagnosed?
Before we try to understand what we can do to get rid of dandruff, we must identify this particular scalp ailment. Different individuals can have different sets of symptoms, and it is always better to reach out to a dermatologist for a correct diagnosis of dandruff. A dermatologist can explain your possible dandruff causes and suggest the best treatment option.
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Some of the common symptoms that dandruff sufferers might experience are:
- Itching- Itching is a common symptom of every individual suffering from dandruff. However, there is nothing wrong with experiencing itchiness on your scalp occasionally. Sometimes due to pollution and dust buildup, our scalps might feel itchy. But in the case of dandruff, the itchiness is severe, and when your nails cannot stop scratching the scalp, it can be are dandruff issue. However, the severity of itchiness may vary from one person to another based on the amount of buildup on the scalp and the response of the fungus.
- Red oily patches-In some cases, dandruff can come with an even worse situation where a person gets inflamed red skin on the scalp that worsens by scratching. There can be spots or greasy, scaly patches on the scalp depending upon the severity of the infection.
- Flakes-White, grey, or yellowish flakes are the most common indicator that one is suffering from dandruff. Those dead skin cells shed in response to the irritant on the scalp.
What Are The Treatment Options For Getting Rid Of Dandruff?
The itching and flaking dandruff can be controlled at any phase. People suffering from very mild dandruff must cleanse the head with a gentle shampoo to prevent oil secretion and skin buildup. And if that does not seem to be of much help, trying a medicated dandruff shampoo is the next step.
Some people prefer using a medicated shampoo twice or thrice a week with regular shampooing on the rest of the days if needed. However, people with dry hair must not shampoo frequently and must moisturize their hair with a conditioner.
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Using medicated shampoo and conditioners is suggested for the hair and scalp. Medicated shampoos and conditioners for dandruff are available in different forms, such as gels, ointments, and sprays.
Sometimes some patients might need to use more than one product to find the best hair care routine for the dandruff treatment. And it is more likely that a person will need repeated and long-term therapy to eliminate dandruff.
If you develop stinging and itching from any medicated dandruff treatment product, it is suggested to stop using it. If you find any allergic reaction to be developed, such as hives, difficulty breathing, or rashes, you must seek immediate medical attention.
There are various dandruff shampoos available classified according to the medication they contain. Some medicated dandruff shampoos come in more potent formulations and are, therefore, available by prescription only.
- Zinc Shampoos: These shampoos contain the antibacterial and antifungal element zinc pyrithione.
- Tar-Based Shampoos: Coal tar is known to slow down how quickly the skin cells on the scalp die and shed; therefore, tar-based shampoos can help treat dandruff. However, you need to know that if you have light-colored hair, tar-based shampoos might cause discoloration. Those shampoos can even make your scalp more sensitive to sunlight.
- Salicylic Acid Shampoos: Salicylic acid-based shampoos help eliminate scaling.
- Selenium Sulfide Shampoos: Selenium sulfide shampoos contain an antifungal agent. And using those products as directed by a doctor and rinsing the hair after shampooing can help reverse the dandruff problem. However, selenium sulfide shampoos can also discolor the hair and scalp.
- Ketoconazole Shampoos: Ketoconazole shampoos can kill dandruff-causing fungi on the scalp of a patient suffering from dandruff.
- Fluocinolone Shampoos contain corticosteroids that help control flaking, irritation, and itching.
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In many cases, medicated shampoos work for a time, and then they lose effectiveness. In such cases, patients are suggested to try different shampoos. Once the dandruff problem is under control, replacing medication with regular shampoos for maintenance and prevention is essential.
Every bottle of medicated shampoo for dandruff comes with the directions written on the label, which must be abided by the patients. Some shampoos are needed to be left on the scalp for a few minutes, while others must be rinsed quickly. If you are regularly using any medicated shampoo for several weeks and still cannot control the dandruff problem, you must talk to a dermatologist or doctor.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil has been used for treating many skin conditions, such as acne and psoriasis. The antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties of tea tree oil also help alleviate dandruff symptoms. In fact, according to the researchers, tea tree oil has the effectiveness of fighting some specific strain of fungus that causes dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis.
Studies advocate that applying placental tissue soaked in tea tree oil to the skin was more effective in treating and healing lesions caused by the fungus than other prescription antifungal treatments.
A study that included 126 people with dandruff problems used a shampoo with 5% of tea tree oil or a placebo daily. After four weeks of use, it was found that tea tree oil reduced the severity of the symptoms by 40%, and it only improved itchiness and greasiness in the placebo.
Still, much high-quality research is going on to determine if tea tree oil is an excellent treatment option for dandruff. However, in some patients, tea tree oil may irritate, and people with sensitive skin must dilute tea tree oil with other carrier oils, such as coconut oil or olive oil, before applying it on the skin.
Coconut oil is known for having multiple health benefits, and it is also a natural remedy for dandruff. Coconut oil offers adequate hydration to the skin and prevents dryness that can worsen dandruff. According to some research, coconut oil has the goodness of mineral oils in improving skin hydration when applied as a conditioner or moisturizer.
Also, other research suggests coconut oil can treat eczema, a skin condition that contributes to dandruff.
A study eight weeks long found that applying coconut oil on the skin can reduce the symptom of atopic dermatitis, the type of eczema that causes itching and inflammation, by 68%.
In another study among 140 women who applied coconut oil for 12 weeks on their scalp, it was found that there was a significant improvement in the scalp microbiome and also in specific markers of dandruff.
Coconut oil and its compounds have antimicrobial properties. However, more studies and research are needed to establish the efficacy of coconut oil on a specific strain of fungus that causes dandruff.
Aloe vera gel is a superman ingredient for hair and skin. This succulent plant is mainly associated with good skin and hair care routines; therefore, it is widely used in different ointments, cosmetics, and lotions.
Aloe Vera gel can alleviate certain skin conditions such as cold sores, psoriasis, and burns when applied directly to the skin. According to a review, aloe vera’s antifungal and antibacterial properties also protect the scalp against dandruff. Similarly, several test tube studies proved that aloe vera gel effectively against several species of fungi and certain fungal infections.
In the test tube studies, it was also found that aloe vera gel can reduce inflammation and relieve the symptoms of dandruff.
Reduced Stress Level
Stress is associated with many health conditions since it influences chronic health conditions to mental health. Although an increased stress level is not directly associated with causing dandruff, it can worsen the symptoms, such as increasing itchiness and dryness.
When a person has a high level of stress for a long time, the activity of their immune system may be altered or suppressed. As a result, the stress can impair the body’s ability to fight off certain fungal infections and skin conditions that contribute to dandruff.
A study of 166 people with seborrheic dermatitis found that the most common cause of dandruff among about 28% of participants was stress. Hence stress is one of the triggering causes of dermatitis symptoms.
Trying yoga, exercising, and meditation can help control stress levels.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar can help weight loss, and we all know about it. But we can unleash other health benefits when we use apple cider vinegar religiously as the natural remedy for other problems, including dandruff.
For being acidic in nature, apple cider vinegar is believed to stimulate the shedding of dead skin cells on the scalp. Apple cider vinegar also has the potential to balance the pH level of the skin to reduce fungal growth and fight dandruff.
However, there are no studies that support the claim, but there is anecdotal evidence that establishes the benefits of apple cider vinegar for dandruff. A small survey among 22 people found that applying apple cider vinegar on the skin topically can improve skin barrier integrity and eczema or even worsen the situation.
In test tube studies, it was found that apple cider vinegar can prevent the growth of certain types of fungus.
If you want to give apple cider vinegar a try to treat dandruff, try mixing a few tablespoons of your shampoo with one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and a few drops of essential oils, and then wash your hair with the mixture.
Aspirin consists of salicylic acid, which is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties and helps treat dandruff. Salicylic acid is also found in many dandruff shampoos since it works by helping to get rid of scaly skin and loosen the flakes so they can be removed.
In an older study, 19 people with dandruff problems used shampoos containing salicylic acid or zinc pyrithione, and piroctone olamine found that both shampoos could decrease dandruff. Still, the shampoo containing salicylic acid was more effective in reducing scaling.
Another study found that salicylic acid with other ingredients, such as glycolic acid and urea, could significantly improve itching and irritation in people with scalp inflammation. If you want to try aspirin as a remedy for dandruff, you can crush two aspirin tablets and add the powder to your shampoo while washing your hair.
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Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids play an essential role in overall health. They make wonderful cell membranes around our cells and play a crucial role in helping our heart, lungs, and immune system work properly.
Omega-3 fatty acids are also beneficial for our skin health since they manage oil production and hydration while promoting healing and preventing premature aging.
A person deficient in omega-3 fatty acids can experience various symptoms, including dry skin, hair, and even dandruff. Though more research is needed to establish that omega-3 fatty acids can reduce inflammation, in many studies, Omega-3 fatty acids were found to relieve dandruff problems.
Fishes like trout, salmon, and mackerel are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, and Omega 3 supplements are also widely available to increase the intake. Some foods are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as chia, walnuts, and flaxseeds.
Probiotics are bacteria linked to many health benefits, including lower cholesterol levels, allergy protection, and increased weight loss. Probiotics are also associated with enhancing immune function, which helps the body fight against various fungal infections that cause dandruff. One study found that consuming probiotics for at least 56 days could significantly reduce the severity of dandruff problems.
Probiotics also treat other skin conditions, such as dermatitis and eczema, especially in infants and children. Probiotics are widely available in the market for quick and convenient dosage, and they can also be found in fermented foods such as kimchi, natto, etc.
Baking soda is a commonly known and convenient remedy for treating dandruff. It is believed that baking soda works as a gentle exfoliant and removes dead skin cells from the scalp, leading to reduced scaling and itchiness—also, the antifungal properties of baking soda benefit dandruff treatment.
The antifungal properties of baking soda work effectively on some of the most common strains of fungus that causes skin infection, and it was found that it can also inhibit fungal growth by more than 75%. A study also found that baking soda work wonders for people with a severe dandruff problem, and baking soda baths can significantly reduce itchiness and irritation after just three weeks.
For the best effect of baking soda, you can directly apply it to your wet hair and massage it into the scalp. And after leaving it for one to two minutes, you can continue shampooing your hair as usual.
Avoiding Certain Foods
Although more research is needed to establish the relationship between diet and dandruff, some people might find the result by limiting the consumption of certain foods that causes inflammation. Some studies suggest that dietary alterations and modifications can prevent the growth of fungal infections by controlling the growth of yeast and improving the gut microbiome that aids in treating dandruff.
Foods that one needs to limit to reduce dandruff problem include:
- White bread
- Red meat
- White pasta
- Fried foods
- Sugary beverages and foods
Some foods that trigger eczema and other skin conditions also contribute to dandruff.
How To Prevent Dandruff With Healthy Hair Care Regimen?
Prevention is better than cure but is it true in the case of dandruff? Although there are different remedies to help you get rid of dandruff, you can also prevent the signs and symptoms of dandruff. If you have an oily scalp, you must shampoo your scalp with a gentle cleanser daily. It would help if you also coupled your shampooing habits with a light scalp massage to prevent dandruff in some instances.
If you use any over-the-counter dandruff shampoo, you must talk to a dermatologist about how often you need to use it for maintenance and prevention. Finally, when you consume more omega-3 and reduce the exposure to the sun and the number of hair products you use to prevent dandruff, the problem can be prevented.
Some Frequently Asked Questions About Dandruff Treatment
What is the best medicine for dandruff?
Different treatment modalities to get rid of dandruff include over-the-counter and prescription dandruff shampoos, home remedies, etc. Shampoos containing Salicylic acid and zinc are some of the most effective shampoos that help reduce dandruff. In-home remedies like tea tree oil, coconut oil, aloe Vera gel, etc., work great for treating dandruff problems. However, before starting with any treatment option, it is always suggested to try regular cleansing with a gentle shampoo to reduce the oil secretion and skin cell buildup on the scalp.
What is dandruff caused by?
There can be various reasons for dandruff, including oily skin, dry skin, fungal infection, unhygienic hair care routine, etc. Oil secretion and skin cell buildup is the most substantial reason for dandruff in most adults.
Should I wash my hair every day if I have a dandruff problem?
The necessity of shampooing the hair varies from one person to another. Some people might need to shampoo their hair twice a week, while others might need to shampoo frequently. Many people even forget that their scalp and hair need to be shampooed. If you’re suffering from dandruff when using a medicated shampoo, you should always talk to a dermatologist to know the right shampooing frequency for you.
Is dandruff a fungus?
The fungus behind dandruff is called Malassezia. This fungus is commonly found in the scalps of most adults, and it lives on the oil secreted by the scalp and breaks down the oil, and leaves oleic acid in its place. People who are sensitive to oleic acid suffer from dandruff.
How to get rid of dandruff permanently at home?
If you have a mild dandruff problem, you can start treating it with a few home remedies, such as massaging your hair with coconut oil, tea tree oil, or olive oil, then washing it with a mild and gentle cleanser, and then conditioning it. You can also apply aloe Vera gel and apple cider vinegar, manage your stress level and consume more omega-3 and probiotics to get rid of dandruff permanently with time.
Dandruff is a considerable problem. However, it is not life-threatening. If your dandruff problem is sustaining for longer than expected, it is better to talk to a dermatologist immediately. If you are in Hyderabad and looking for a dermatologist offering hair treatments, visit choose.clinic. This website will help you find an expert dermatologist in your area offering a range of skin and hair treatments.