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How To Treat Dandruff

Updated on June 7, 2010

Dandruff can be an embarrassing problem, especially if it is severe. For many dandruff sufferers, using an anti-dandruff shampoo will be enough to keep the worst of the dreaded white flakes at bay. For the unlucky ones, a medicated shampoo that is specifically designed to treat the causes of dandruff may be a better option.

What Causes Dandruff?

The unsightly white flakes that characterize dandruff are usually caused by an overproduction of skin cells on the scalp. If you do not suffer from dandruff, loose skin cells are generally washed away when you clean your hair or are shed when you brush your hair. These skin cells usually go unnoticed and many people will not even realise that this process is taking place. If you suffer from dandruff, loose skin cells are being shed at a much faster rate. They often get trapped in the natural oils of your hair.

In some cases, dandruff can be caused by a deficiency of fatty essential oils. Taking evening promise oil supplements can rectify this. Alternatively, you can increase your intake of flaxseed oil or blackcurrant oil. A single tablespoon of one of these oils per day can be enough to make a noticeable difference to the overall condition of your scalp.

Anti-Dandruff Products

Most of the anti-dandruff products that are readily available in shops and supermarkets contain salicylic acid. This is the same ingredient that is present in most acne remedies, and works by breaking down dead skin cells to clear them away from the surface of the scalp. While this is a very good idea for dandruff sufferers in general, some people find it too harsh for regular use as it can irritate the scalp and worsen the existing problems.

Medicated Remedies

If anti-dandruff products have no effect on your dandruff situation or are too harsh for your scalp, a medicated anti-dandruff product may be the answer to your problems. These tend to contain one or more of the following ingredients: peanut oil, tar, zinc, selenium sulphide and ketoconazole. Massaging this type of shampoo into your scalp every day or every other day can go a long way towards loosening the dead skin cells that are clinging to your scalp. Unlike many anti-dandruff products, medicated remedies are designed to treat the problem itself, rather than just targeting the symptoms.

Natural Remedies

Many people prefer to use natural dandruff remedies as they do not contain harsh chemicals that may further irritate the scalp. The downside of using natural remedies is that many of them do not treat the causes of dandruff. Instead, they tend to deal with the symptoms of dandruff by getting rid of the white flakes.

Using olive oil is a popular natural dandruff remedy, especially as olive oil is readily available in shops. This natural remedy involves mixing olive oil with some hot water, and applying it to your scalp. For best results, use an equal amount of olive oil and hot water. The water should be hot to the touch, but not hot enough to burn your scalp or fingers on application. Leave the mixture on your scalp for around half an hour before washing it off with your usual shampoo. To keep the heat in, you may want to carefully wrap a wet towel around your hair.

Another natural option involves adding a few drops of rosemary essential oil and lemon essential oil to your scalp after washing your hair with your usual shampoo. Mixing these with a few drops of sweet oil will often make a more effective natural dandruff remedy. Massaging this mixture into your scalp should do a good job of loosening the white clumps that have become trapped in your hair. Use a soft hairbrush if possible to reduce the possibility of further irritating your scalp.

Mixing a small amount of tea tree oil with your shampoo is another natural option. Tea tree has antiseptic and anti-fungal properties, which makes it a great natural remedy for treating dandruff.

Peanut oil can be used to deal with the itchiness that often accompanies dandruff. This works best if it is organic peanut oil, although this can increase the price quite considerably. Mixed with a small amount of fresh lemon oil (that has been squeezed from a freshly cut lemon), this can be a very effective way of stopping the itchiness. Depending on the severity of the itchiness, leave it on your scalp for between ten and thirty minutes before washing it off with your usual shampoo.

What To Do If All Else Fails

If anti-dandruff products, medicated products and natural remedies fail to have a positive effect on your dandruff, it may be worth consulting your doctor. He or she may be able to prescribe a higher strength anti-dandruff product that will clear up the problem. Alternatively, he or she may be able to pinpoint reasons why your dandruff may be resisting treatment. For example, if your dandruff problem is caused by stress or a fungal infection, using a product that is designed to clear away dead skin cells from the surface of your scalp will only be a temporary measure. Treating the underlying causes of your dandruff will be necessary to effectively treat the problem.


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    • carolinemoon profile image

      carolinemoon 6 years ago

      Amazing hub!