Imagine you go shopping for bags. And each bag in the shop is covered in thick dust. Will you be tempted to buying anything? Maybe not. How do you think such a business will thrive, let alone survive?
Similarly, if your scalp is buried under flakes and dead skin cells, how do you think your hair will thrive? And even if you don’t care much about your hair, you might not want to look like you have been dusted with snowflakes around your shoulders on May morning.
Not pretty sight, huh!
Apparently, dandruff is one of the most common problems of the scalp and almost half of the world’s population will develop dandruff at some point in their lives – this is regardless of age, gender and ethnic background (1).
I too have suffered from an itchy, flaky scalp – on and off – for many years. I use to dream of having a peel off scalp mask which I could apply and peel off after a few minutes and have the flakes gone. But I never found one, but I did find some solutions to keep the flakes and itch away.
Before we jump into the remedies, it’s important that know what’s causing dandruff in the first place.
Figuring out the cause of dandruff is like walking in the dark.
You will just go round and round and not reach anywhere. Although it’s such as common condition, doctors or research scientists haven’t yet figured out what exactly causes dandruff.
But since I have been through the irritation and agony of dandruff, and read extensively on the subject, I can shed some light on what could be causing your scalp to form unstoppable flakes.
A while ago, I was listening to a radio interview of a dermatologist and he said that most of the time it’s the dry scalp or shampoo allergy that causes dandruff. From my experience hard water too can cause it, especially if you already have a dry scalp. This is because, cal from hard water deposits on your scalp, sucking away the moisture and making your dry scalp further dry and irritated.
Besides, the fungus that lives on our scalp and is normally harmless can also cause dandruff.
When the ratio of good bacteria that reside in our body (and scalp) drops, the fungus population remain unchecked and multiply at faster rate. Again, it’s not exactly clear why it happens, it is thought that stress, unhealthy diet, oily scalp and low body immunity can cause it (2).
Dandruff typically looks like dry, fine flaky skin on the scalp, sometimes with areas of pink or red irritated skin. But if your dandruff is due to fungus or if you have oily scalp, dandruff flakes are larger.
If you are wondering what are these flakes?
They are basically the dead skin cells. In normal people (I mean people without dandruff) scalp skin matures and sheds in a month’s time, where as if you have dandruff, the cell turnover is rapid and the shedding time shortens to 2-7 days. The result is flakes that can be large or small, grey or white (3).
Okay, so with such obscure causes the treatment can remain a puzzle. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. The treatment is simpler than identifying the causes. Hard to believe? Yes, until you read what I have to offer…
3 Easy Ways to Get Rid of Dandruff
Dandruff shampoos never worked for me. In fact, I flake with most store-bought shampoos. And the only thing that keeps my scalp healthy and clear is homemade shampoos. If you are like me and still trying to find the shampoo that will banish those flakes maybe it’s time to make a switch.
Before that, let’s find out why are store-bought shampoos are pain in the scalp?
Because they contain harsh detergents such as SLS (sodium lauryl sulphate) which can strip the scalp of natural oils and wash away the healthy skin flora (of good bacteria)**. This can leave the scalp dry and prone to allergic reaction.
Also, when the good bacteria number dwindles, the fungus population multiples, which evokes the inflammatory response, causing scalp irritation and flaking. To add to this, the other ingredients in the shampoos like preservatives, propylene glycol and perfume make the scalp skin more irritated.
So whatever the cause of dandruff, the conventional shampoo is the first thing you need to ditch.
You will get best results if you switch homemade shampoo made with herbs and other natural ingredients. Here are some anti-dandruff shampoo recipes that you can make at home.
But I understand if you don’t want to make your own shampoo as it does need (little) planning and preparation. And if you are not keen on, then try and find a shampoo made with mild detergents and natural plant extracts.
Whilst you are still looking for the perfect shampoo, you can try out the below coconut oil treatment to moisturise and heal your scalp.
** Our skin and scalp are colonized by a million of microorganisms — including bacteria, fungi and viruses. They co-exists in harmony and work to keep the skin healthy and pH balanced.
This is another of my favourite remedy for dandruff. It’s also a very popular home remedy and the best thing is it can give instant results.
How does it work?
Coconut oil has anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties that target the fungus as well as unhealthy pathogens that may be lurking on the scalp. Plus, the medium chain fatty acids in coconut penetrate the skin and work to moisturise and soften the scalp skin – this is especially useful to heal dry scalp dandruff.
And then there’s lime juice, which is an excellent clarifying agent. The natural acids in lime juice exfoliate the dead skin cells and render your scalp flake-free.
You will need:
Place the coconut oil in a bowl and add in the lime juice. Mix well.
Tip: If your coconut oil is solid, place the bowl in hot water and coconut oil will melt in seconds.
Dip your fingers and apply this mixture on to your scalp and massage for 5 minutes. Let it sit for an hour or so and wash as usual. Oil massage also helps clear hair follicles, and stimulates and supports healthy hair growth.
But if you have a sensitive scalp, you may want to skip lime juice. The natural acids in lime juice can irritate the scalp further. Instead just use plain coconut oil and it will do the trick. Plus if you are not a fan of coconut oil you can also try other equally effective oils like olive oil and starflower (borage) oil.
These were the external remedies for dandruff, but remember I mentioned in the causes that diet also has a role to play.
If you have dry, flaky scalp, it’s a sign that you or rather your body is running low in essential fatty acids — which are basically healthy fats. Your body needs them to function properly and absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and E. Also, your skin needs them to stay moisturised and nourished from within.
So include nuts and seeds such as coconut, almonds, cashew, peanut, walnut, flax seeds and sesame seeds, or their cold pressed oils. Also, avocado, butter, ghee and oily fish like salmon and mackerel can help provide much-needed lubrication for your scalp — thus help reduce dandruff.
And lastly, don’t forget to drink enough water. Water helps to keep the entire body hydrated, including hair, scalp and skin.
Are you tired of itchy flaky scalp? Has any of the remedies worked for you? Share below…
More Useful Home Remedies for Dandruff:
Miracle Hair Mask for Dandruff
5 Ways To Get Rid Of Dandruff Permanently
How to use Coconut Oil and Amla (Indian gooseberry) for Dandruff