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Dandruff: What is it and How to get rid of it

Updated on April 9, 2014
Scratch, scratch, scratch, the dandruff came back!
Scratch, scratch, scratch, the dandruff came back! | Source

I was wearing my favorite black shirt that made me feel amazing. It outlined my body and made me feel especially cute. And then my friend destroyed my bubble:
"You have a bad case of dandruff."

"What?! What are you talking about?!"

And then I looked over my shoulder. AAAAGH!! It was back. The dandruff that wouldn't die came back to haunt me once again.

What is dandruff?

I went back home decided to rid myself of this dandruff curse. I grabbed my weapon (a laptop) and pointed it in the right direction (google). While reading some information, I realized that I didn't know what dandruff was or what caused it, so I thought that might be the best place to start.

There are different types of dandruff and each type is caused by something different. Let's start with the most common one...

Fungal Dandruff

Fungal dandruff is caused by a yeast fungus named Malassezia (formerly known as Pityrosporum). This fungus lives on everyone's scalp, and when it's under control, we don't even notice its presence. But, for unknown reasons, this fungus can start growing uncontrollably and then you get dandruff.

Malassezia causes cell regeneration to happen faster than it should. For example, this cell regeneration process should happen once a month, but when Malassezia grows more than it should, the regeneration process will happen in less than two weeks.

The extra dead cells mix with the oil on your scalp, and it forms a flaky paste that falls on your shoulder in the form of dandruff and causes you to be embarrassed.

Oh my! Is that dandruff?
Oh my! Is that dandruff? | Source

Types of Dandruff

Let's do a quick overview of the different types of dandruff:

Fungal Dandruff

Caused by the yeast fungus Malassezia.

Dry Dandruff

Caused by scalp dryness.

Oily Dandruff

Caused when excess sebum mixes with dirt or product build up.

Disease related dandruff

Caused by skin diseases such as psoriasis or eczema.

Dry Dandruff

Your scalp can also develop dandruff just because it's dry. Just as your skin can look scaly and patchy when it is not moisturized, the same happens to your scalp.

Sometimes our scalp becomes overly dry because of all the chemical processes that we subject it to. Not too long ago I bleached my hair, and my scalp responded by giving me chunks of dandruff. For a while, one of my main hobbies was to scratch and pull the thick chunks of dandruff that were stuck to my scalp. It was fun until people started thinking I had hair lice.

EEEk! A microscope picture of human dandruff...
EEEk! A microscope picture of human dandruff... | Source

Other Causes of Dandruff

There are several things that could be causing your dandruff problem:

  • Stress
  • Excessive sweating
  • An acidic diet
  • Hormonal Imbalances
  • Shampoos with unbalanced pH levels
  • Hair dyes/ bleach
  • Hair products

Oily Dandruff

This type dandruff happens when a person has an oily scalp and poor hygiene habits, or when a person doesn't know how to properly remove hair conditioner. If your scalp is oily, you know that you need to wash you hair more often that those with dry scalps. If you don't, the sebum will mix with the dirt and debris from your scalp and you will get chunks of dandruff.

You may also see this type of dandruff if you don't properly wash your hair. Sometimes we apply many hair products or too much conditioner, and if we don't properly wash these off, they can stay on our scalp and turn into flakes.

Disease Related Dandruff

People with psoriasis or eczema can also have problems with dandruff. This type of dandruff is harder to remove than the other types.

Natural is better

The best way to get rid of Dry Dandruff is by naturally conditioning your hair and using natural oils such as coconut, jojoba, argan or castor.

How to get rid of dandruff

As you have noticed, each type of dandruff has different causes, so before you do anything, figure out which type is affecting you.

How to get rid of Fungal Dandruff

Shampoos - One of the easiest ways to remove this type of dandruff is using a shampoo especially made for this problem. Head and Shoulders is one of the most popular brands that works for many people. I have noticed that Head and Shoulders will only get rid of my dandruff as long as I'm using this shampoo. As soon as I stop using it, the dandruff comes back.

A better choice of shampoo is the Nizoral brand, and you can find it pretty much in any pharmacy. I buy mine at my local CVS. I have noticed that when I use Nizoral shampoo, I only need to use it for a few days for the dandruff to disappear, and I can go back go using my hemp scented shampoo, which I just love.

Natural remedies to get rid of fungal dandruff

Lemon does wonderful things for your hair and scalp. Here's how to use it against dandruff:

After shampooing hair, apply the juice of 1 lemon to your scalp. You can choose to rinse it or leave it on. For people with sensitive scalp, it is best if you rinse your hair.

Who knew celery could do anything for your hair?!

  1. Boil 1 liter of water.
  2. When the water is boiling, add a few celery sticks as well as some leaves.
  3. Let it boil for 5 more minutes
  4. Let it cool down
  5. Apply to scalp

Who has thyme for dandruff?! Ain't nobody got thyme for that! (I know, bad joke...)

  1. Boil some water
  2. Add dry thyme and let it boil for 10 more minutes
  3. Once it is cold, apply to hair after shampooing.

*Thyme smells delicious, so I'm sure you will love having its scent on your scalp.

Lemon juice can help you get rid of dandruff.
Lemon juice can help you get rid of dandruff. | Source

How to get rid of Dry Dandruff

Dry dandruff is your scalp's way of yelling for help. You need to give your scalp a break, or at least give it the moisture it needs. Here are a few things you can do:

Stop submitting your scalp to chemical processes, such as hair dyes, bleaching, perms, etc...

Condition your hair and scalp. There are several products you can buy, but I have always preferred natural oils. Oils such as coconut, castor, jojoba and argan can really
revitalize your scalp and help you get rid of dandruff.


How to get rid of Oily Dandruff

This type of dandruff is relatively easy to get rid of.

Wash your hair more often. If you're not washing your hair very often, the oil will mix the dirt and it won't be pretty. Wash your hair at least every other day if you have an oily scalp.

Use the no 'poo method. Sometimes, even if you wash your hair everyday, you will still get oily dandruff because you're not rinsing the shampoo and conditioner chemicals correctly. People that use the no 'poo method don't have this problem because instead of shampoo they use baking soda, and instead of conditioner they use a mixture of water and apple cider vinegar. Learn more about this method reading this other hub.

Dandruff is a horrible enemy, but it is possible to defeat it. Keep learning and happy living!


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