More than 50% of the world’s population is affected by dandruff, in some form or the other. People with oily skin are more prone to this problem, as are men, who tend to shed more skin in the head area, which makes them more vulnerable to this condition. People who neglect hygiene can also be affected by dandruff.
For some, this medical condition goes away after a few days of basic treatment but for many others, the problem persists for a long time, often leading to persistent itchiness, small red bumps near the roots and flaky scalp. If left untreated, this problem can aggravate, causing severe sores on scalp, mild form of hair loss and extreme itchiness.
Thankfully, this can be treated and cured before it deteriorates into a bad medical condition. There are numerous home remedies for this ailment and these natural treatment methods work as well as chemical medications. Let’s take a look at how to get rid of dandruff with home remedies in this article but before that, let’s look at the causes and symptoms.
What is Dandruff?
During skin regeneration process of the human body, the dead skin is expelled in the form of small flaky material. Certain medical conditions and external influencers can exacerbate the production of dead cells. When these dead cells get entrapped, they form dandruff. Dead skin cells can also be entrapped within eyebrows, beards, mustaches, an pretty much any other place where hair grows but they cause more irritation on the head because it is very sensitive. Skin regeneration is more pronounced babies and in young people, especially in the age group of 12-30 and these are typically the people who are susceptible to dandruff and its ill effects.
What Causes Dandruff?
Scalp Dermatitis: This is also called as Seborrhea and is caused because of a combination of fungal infection, excessive skin shedding and sensitivity. When this occurs in infants, the condition is called ‘Cradle Cap’.
Malassezia: This is a kind of yeast that resides on the head. When there is excessive oil in the hair, or when the hair is dirty, this yeast can speed up the skin shedding process.
Skin Ailments and Infections: There are other skin ailments like Psoriasis, eczema, etc, can cause dead skin and irritated scalp as a side effect. So, people with these ailments must take extra care to minimize the problem.
Poor Hair Hygiene: If the hair is not brushed, washed and nourished well, it can accumulate dead skin cells. this is one of the primary causes of itchy scalp and these accumulated goop can also combine with yeast/bacteria to cause dead flaky skin.
Oily Hair: Oily skin is actually a good biological protection against the elements. But it also encourages growth of bacteria and fungus on the skin, especially on the head.
Dry Hair: Dry hair on its own is not a cause for concern. But when people living in cold climates have dry hair, they must take extra precautions because they will shed excessive skin during winters.
Bad Diet: These are extraneous causes and they combine with other factors to aggravate the problem. Bad diet will leave the skin and hair malnourished, which can leave it vulnerable to this problem.
Extreme Temperatures: People who are exposed to extreme temperatures or alternating temperatures can experience excessive skin degeneration. For example, people living in tropics will expose themselves to extreme heat, sweat and impurities. People living in colder climates will get exposed to cold air and heated air (inside a heated room). Both situations are not good for your scalp.
Combination Of One Or More Factors: The factors mentioned above can combine together to exacerbate your dandruff situation. When you are looking at how to treat dandruff, understanding these factors can help you make the right decision.
When you are looking at your scalp problem, you must also pay attention to the symptoms. Understanding these can help you in identifying the right cause of dandruff, at a much earlier stage.
Mild infections will cause itchiness; red scalp; pale yellow dead skin flakes all over the head and also on the shoulders.
Bad Infections can cause bumps near the roots, excessive dead skin on the hair, which also flakes off onto the shoulders.
Severe cases of this infection can cause, extremely dry scalp, big sores and some amount of hair loss. It can also spread to other parts of the body, causing beard dandruff, eyebrow dandruff and dandruff hair loss.
Natural Home Remedies For Dandruff Control:
The proverb ‘Prevention is better than cure’ does not work with this infection. No matter how good your hygiene is, or how well you take care of your hair, dandruff can happen to anyone. And you won’t need an expert opinion to diagnose this problem. The itchiness and flaky skin cells, visible all over your hair and shoulders are hard to miss. The only thing you can do is – catch and treat it early, before it deteriorates. Let’s now see how to get rid of dandruff when it is in its milder form.
1 – Lemon Juice and Hair Oil:
Apply coconut oil (or any other hair oil product) and let it soak for an hour. This oil will inhibit the growth of fungus. Then apply lemon juice to the roots of the hair and let it work its magic for half hour before you wash it off. The acidic nature of lemon juice will help in bringing balance to the PH levels in the skin. A balanced PH will reduce the production of body oils, which in turn will mute the growth of yeast and other fungus on the hair. Lemon juice also scrubs the skin and gets rid of most of the dead cells from the top layer. Lemon juice is also one of the best home remedies for itchy scalp. Repeat this process for at least 10 days. In 2 days, your itchy scalp will disappear. In 5 – 6 days, your scalp will no longer feel dry. By now, all redness and soreness would have gone. You will find less flakes on your hair. By the 10th day, the problem would have been controlled. Continue this method at least thrice a month, for the next 3 months to prevent relapse.
2 – Apple Cider Vinegar and Hair Oil:
Apple Cider is similar in nature to lemon juice. It maintains PH levels, reduces bumps and sores, kills the fungus and eliminates dead cells. The vinegar is however not as fast in removing skin flakes as lemon juice is. So, this method can take a little longer to show effects. 3 weeks is a good time frame for it to cure dandruff completely. This method also needs follow up for the next three months to prevent re infection. Apple vinegar application process is also similar to the lemon=oil method. You need to prep the hair with oil before applying the vinegar. This method might be slow but it offers faster results for the itchy head problem. It also works better when Olive oil is used, instead of coconut and other hair oils.
Method 3 – Tea Tree Oil Treatment:
Tea Tree is one of the most popularly used natural remedies for a flaky scalp. It is also used for lice treatment and hair nourishment. This natural oil extract has anti fungal properties and is rich in nutrients for hair growth. It is very effective in curing dry scalp and sores on scalp. It reduces dandruff related hair fall and strengthens the scalp and roots. Tea tree oil has been used for centuries as a treatment for this infection. It must however be noted that this extract might not be as effective on advanced levels of infection; there are other methods for that.
4 – Aloe Vera and Hair Oil:
Aloe Vera extract is widely used in skin care products. It is a good exfoliating agent and reduces the alkalinity percentage of the skin (reduces dryness of skin). Some people with skin sensitivity and skin ailments prefer using aloe vera instead of lemon juice and apple cider. That’s because the vinegar and juice can cause some amount of ‘stinging’ sensation, which is accentuated in people with skin sensitivity. The aloe vera method can take a long time to take effect (2-3 months). It is much better for people who are looking to stop dandruff recurrence in the long term; it is not a good ‘short term, fast results’ method.
5 – Baking Soda and Oil:
We’ve come to the ‘instant gratification’ methods now. If you want to see an instant reduction of flakes from your hair, rub a couple of teaspoons of baking soda vigorously into your scalp. When you wash it off, you can visibly see a marked reduction of dead cell flakes in your hair. Baking soda is a natural abrasive and it scours the dead cells off the skin almost instantaneously. However, baking soda does not have medicinal properties (reduction of fungus, nourishment of hair, etc), so, you’ll need to augment the exfoliating property of the soda, with the treatment of hair oil. This combination works very well and shows results in a week to 10 days time. A variation of this method is to add lemon juice to the baking soda and apply that mixture to the hair. The lemon juice helps in maintaining PH, while the soda scrubs the skin clean.
6 – Neem Oil:
Neem extract is one of the most effective natural remedies for dandruff. The neem leaf is perhaps the most powerful herbal medication, when it comes to treating bacterial and fungal infections. It is used to treat severe forms of skin infections. This leaf can reduce pox and burn scars…and our dandruff infection is no match for its medicinal properties! If you want instant and permanent relief from the infection, you NEED to use Neem extract. The only drawback is – neem has an awful smell. You have to live with that smell for the entire duration of treatment, which can last a week to 10 days. And the smell can linger for a longer period of time even after your treatment is complete. The process is simple; you apply neem oil and let it soak for an hour before you wash it off with water (no shampoo). That’s about it. Neem has an 80% success rate in treating this infection, which is much better than most chemical products sold in the market!
7 – Soap Nut and Oil:
If you can’t stand the smell of neem, here is an alternative home remedy for itchy scalp for you. Soap nut is the most ancient cleanser known to mankind. These nuts are natural abrasives and have been used as soaps for hundreds of years. They are fast cleansing agents that can get rid of flakes from hair. They also scrub the skin to remove dead tissues. They are extremely effective and help in removing more than 80% of flakes from hair in just 2 or 3 days! However, they do not have any medicinal properties to treat the infection; they are good for superficial cleansing. So, to make this treatment more effective, you must add oil treatment (Coconut or Olive) before a soap nut wash. The oil treatment will stop fungus growth, while the soap nut cleans.
Shikai (or Shikakai), literally translates to “Pod/Seed for hair care” into English. It is a tree belonging to the Acacia family and grows in South Asia. It is a veritable ‘super medication’ when it comes to head/hair care and this fact is scientifically proven. It is a natural lathering agent, scrubbing agent, exfoliating agent, skin nourishing agent and PH balance agent. It not only scrubs the skin of all dead flakes, it prevents its deterioration. It removes all of the accumulated flakes on hair, removes fungus, removes infection causing germs, expands pores, soothes sores and treats skin abrasions. It is the only dandruff treatment method with 90% success rate! Shikai is sold in powdered form and people must mix it with water to apply on hair. Since it is a lathering agent, there is no need to use shampoo for washing it off. It starts showing results in just 2-3 days.
Always remember this – Dandruff treatment at home is better than chemical medicines. They are as effective (if not better) and do not cause side effects. They are also cheaper and faster.