Are you suffering from itchy flaky scalp?
And all your efforts to get clean and clear scalp have gone in vain. No shampoo, hair masks or home remedies worked so far. Apparently, half of the world’s population will develop dandruff at some point in their lives. So you are not alone.
I too have beared the burden of the flakes, and been through irritation, but now I have a clear and clear scalp. Yeh!! No, I didn’t find a magical mask to apply and peel off. It’s some common sense approaches that have helped me get a healthy and dandruff-free scalp. And you too can be dandruff-free.
Before we delve into what you can do to eliminate it, let take a quick look at what is dandruff…
What is dandruff, Why Dandruff
Every day our skin sheds older cells and replaces them with new ones. Dandruff occurs when the skin cells are shed at a faster rate than normal. The flakes that you see are actually the dead skin cells. There’s also redness, irritation and itching which comes in the dandruff package.
What causes dandruff is still not known. There are many assumptions behind it. It could be because of the lack of moisture in the scalp, more commonly known as dry scalp. Or the use of shampoo containing sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate, which can trigger an allergic reaction in the skin. Another reason could be hard water that contains metal ions that deposit on the scalp and cause irritation.
Also, scalp fungus which is normally harmless can cause dandruff. When the good bacteria number dwindle, the fungus grows unchecked — this results in flakes and redness. Again, it’s not clear why this happens, it is thought that stress, unhealthy diet and low immunity could be the culprits.
Washing hair every day is also not good for your scalp. It can disrupt the pH balance of our scalp, and when the skin gets too alkaline, it results in flakes, itch and irritation.
So these were the possible causes of dandruff. And now your work is to decipher what could be causing your flakes. Okay, don’t freak out, it’s not as difficult as it sounds. I have laid the solutions for you that are easy to follow and will help you get dandruff-free very soon. When you try something new, keep note of what works and what doesn’t, this will make your life much easier.
Normally, there’s small amount of fungus that lives on our scalp and feeds on the dead skin. And our skin’s good bacteria keep this fungus in check. Problem occurs when the balance of ‘good’ organism and ‘bad’ organism is faltered and the fungus begins to overgrow. Some of the triggers of fungus overgrowth are overuse of antibiotics, steroids, stressful lifestyle, unhealthy diet and hormonal imbalance.
Recent research suggests that taking probiotics (dietary supplements containing healthy bacteria) can bring relief from dandruff. Yogurt contains healthy bacteria and will help get rid of the root cause of dandruff – the fungus. (Please choose the plain live yogurt, not the fruit yogurt, which will in fact encourage the yeast growth.)
Another way to replenish the healthy bacteria is by taking a probiotic supplements. I usually take one or two every week. It helps with better absorption of nutrients from the food and keep your gut and skin healthy
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If fungus is the cause of your dandruff, then you got to pay attention to your diet to correct the imbalance between good organisms (bacteria) and bad organisms (fungus). To begin with, remove all foods that feed the fungus – this includes fruit juices, alcoholic drinks, soya sauce, and vinegar (and food containing vinegar such as ketchup, pickles), tempeh, mushroom, peanuts and mature cheese. Also avoid refined flour and sugar for at least 2 to 3 weeks.
You can also take help of certain herbs to fight the nasty yeast. These are: aloe vera, kadu twigs (found in Indian stores), garlic, chamomile tea, raspberry leaf, marigold and echinacea.
Dandruff can occur when your sebaceous glands produce too little oil, causing dry, flaky, itchy scalp. Foods containing essential fatty acids feed the skin from inside out and therefore help combat the dryness and also reduce the redness and itching.
Eat more of oily fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines), plus flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts or their unrefined oils. And how can I forget my favourite – Ghee (clarified butter). Also called as ‘God’s Food’, ghee will not just eliminate dandruff, it will also make your hair and skin shine bright.
I have suffered years of itchy, flaky scalp due to using conventional shampoos. And I didn’t even realize that until a few years back.
The harsh detergents, preservatives and artificial perfume in your shampoo can irritate your scalp, and cause excess dryness. Even the so-called natural shampoos are not so natural – meaning they too contain detergents, which can strip natural oils and irritate your scalp. It would be best if you can switch to homemade shampoos such as this or this one.
Also refrain from washing your hair every day, which can disrupt the scalp pH. Instead, train your hair to go without washing for two or more days.
Hard water can make the dandruff worse. With all the cal and mineral deposits building up, the flakes and itch will not budge. But you can fight the hard water by using a acidic hair rinse, which will help remove the mineral build up. Alternatively you can install a water filter to give you cal-free water.
While you are work to eliminate the dandruff from the root, here are some powerful home remedies which will give you an instant relief from dandruff.
Tea tree oil: With its anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties, tea tree oil will bring great relief from dandruff.
Many people recommend using this oil neat, but it’s safer to use it with some base oil such as olive or sesame. Mix 10 drops of tea tree oil with 1 tablespoon of base oil. Massage into your scalp and leave on overnight (or at least couple of hours).
Aloe Vera Gel: Aloe vera is miraculously soothing and will lessen your itch and redness instantly. It also has anti-fungal, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties that help promote the healing of skin.
To use: cut open the leaf and use the fresh gel directly on your scalp. And if using the market bought gel, ensure that it is not mixed with water or artificial flavorings.
Neem Oil: Also known as ‘Heal All’ in India, neem oil has been used for thousands of years to treat skin irritations, acne, eczema and dandruff. Neem oil is effective against several human fungi including candida, which is one of the major cause of dandruff. This oil is also rich in essential fatty acids and will work to soften your dry, angry skin.
How to use: mix 1 teaspoon neem oil with 2 tablespoon olive oil or avocado oil. You can also add 3 to 4 drops of lavender essential oil. Massage into your scalp and let it sit for few hours. Wash it off using a natural shampoo or SLS free shampoo.
And remember natural remedies take time to produce results, but the results are lasting. So hang in there!
Apple Cider Vinegar: The acidity of vinegar works to balance the scalp pH and if you have hard water, it will remove cal build up from your hair. You can use any vinegar, but apple cider vinegar is the best for hair.
How to use: mix 1 teaspoons of vinegar to 2 cups of water. You can also add a tablespoon of coconut water to it. After shampooing, pour this mixture on to your hair. Massage the scalp and work through your hair and leave it for a couple of minutes, then wash it off. Vinegar rinse also increases shine and gives body to limp hair.
Lastly, I would say, don’t forget to drink water. Water helps to keep the your skin and scalp hydrated and moisturised.
Do you have dandruff? Have you tried any of the above tips?