Dandruff is a common skin condition which is even considered a natural occurrence, as our skin exfoliates itself by forming tiny white flakes. But when this condition is worsened, when this formation of exfoliated skin flakes isn’t cleaned by washing hair or goes out of control, which can happen due to different diet and lifestyle changes.
Dandruff can be of 2 types, one that causes dryness in scalp and damages our hair and the other one which causes our skin’s oil glands to over secrete oil as a result of which this type of dandruff is sticky.
What are the causes of dandruff?
Dandruff can be caused by many unhealthy dieting or lifestyle habits. Some of these habits, are things we do everyday without even realizing their harmful effects on our body. Let’s see some of the causes of dandruff:
1) Unhealthy or unbalanced diets: If you ignore your daily diet and eat unhealthy foods and foods that cause inflammation, it can lead to developing or worsening dandruff. A well balanced diet rich in vitamins, minerals, protein, healthy fats and carbohydrates helps keep the functioning of our skin normal and doesn’t over stimulate the oil glands.
2) Having certain skin conditions already such as dry skin, eczema etc which increases your chance of developing dandruff over time.
3) You work or live in either too hot or too cold climates: This can be highly damaging to our skin and hair, as both of these extremes can produce very dry climates and air and has been linked to cause itchy and flaky scalp.
4) Using shampoos or hair products that are high in chemicals not got for your scalp and hair. Certain shampoos, soaps, conditioners come loaded with harmful chemicals and colors, which damage our scalp and lead to dryness of scalp. Such dryness can then cause developing dandruff over time.
5) Not washing & brushing you hair everyday: If you don’t wash and brush your hair everyday, it can lead to accumulation of dead skin flakes and dirt, which blocks the skin pores in the scalp and worsens the condition.
6) Seborrheic dermatitis, a condition that affects your oil glands which are present not only in our scalp but also on other areas of skin over our body. This condition is characterised by a scalp which is red, oily and covered in tiny white flakes.
7) You suffer from yeast/fungus overgrowth, specifically Malassezia, which is type of fungus that is present on our scalp. This usually affects people whose skin and scalp is even more sensitive to yeast.
8) Air pollution: This has also been linked to cause dandruff, as when our scalp comes in contact with air that is laden with carbon pollutants and even dust particles. These particles can cause irritation on scalp and even blocking of the oil glands present on our scalp, thereby increasing chance of getting dandruff.
9) No work-life balance and too much stress: An abnormal lifestyle full of stress and not enough sleep, causes slow production and secretion of some hormones such dopamine, endorphins, oxytocin, serotonin. These hormones not only control our mood and mental focus, but also regulate proper functioning of our brain and certain internal organs including skin, oil glands and scalp.
10) Eating certain food combination such as taking milk with fruits or salty/spicy foods, causes certain imbalances and disruption of stomach acid and digestive juices, which then leads to body inflammation causing several adverse effects on our body and skin. Such inflammation can cause malfunctioning of our skin pores and oil glands which are essential to proper cleaning of accumulated dead skin cells and blocking dirt particles to enter our skin pores.
What are the possible treatment options and home remedies for treating dandruff?
Fortunately for everyone, there exists many home remedies which we can undertake in order to control and get rid of dandruff permanently in some cases. Such home remedies when following with preventive measures, which we will discuss in the next section below, can prevent dandruff from coming back.
Treatment of dandruff is often directed towards skin inflammation and regular cleaning of scalp. We can use certain type of lotions and creams/conditioners to counteract inflammation and also some shampoos which act against yeast infections.
Here are some of the remedies for dandruff:
1) Anti-dandruff shampoos: Particular care should be taken in choosing an anti-dandruff shampoo, as there are many options available on the shelves in markets but often these are loaded with many harmful chemicals and colors which can damage our hair follicles and scalp even further. When choosing a good and effective shampoo make sure the following components are present in it:
- Salicylic acid
- Tar (T/Gel)
- Selenium sulfide
- Zinc pyrithione
Usage of such shampoos depends on how severe the dandruff is on your scalp, so you can use them twice or thrice a week.
2) Tea tree oil: This miracle oil has many benefits for skin problems, as it has antibacterial, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. It finds it’s use in treating dandruff, acne, scars and infections. Many anti-dandruff shampoos also has this oil as an important component.
3) Apple cider vinegar: This vinegar finds many uses for skin ailments including acne, scars and dandruff. Often used as a component of anti dandruff shampoos or on its own to treat dandruff, it works by stimulating the scalp to get rid of dead skin cells. If you want to use it on it’s own, it’s normally recommended to dilute it to some extent with water as pure apple cider vinegar is acidic and can disrupt the normal pH balance of scalp and hair.
4) Aloe vera: This wonder substance has many benefits for our hair, scalp and skin. It acts against inflammation of skin and nourishes the hair follicles. It also have a positive effect on the oil glands. Apart from that, it also has anti-bacterial property which protects our scalp and hair follicles from yeast. We can use it’s gel avaialble in the market or make use of it’s natural stem if available. It’s stem can be crushed and the resulting gel and pulp can be applied on our scalp.
5) Coconut oil: Another wonderful oil to use in our everyday lives, this finds its uses not only in many treatments for skin and hair ailments but can also be used for cooking a healthy meal. Coconut oil has been proven to prevent dryness of scalp by keep our scalp hydrated by locking in the moisture in the air.
6) Green tea: Green tea leaves or the dried powdered form, when boiled in water and sieved carefully can be used to wash our hair to effectively fight against dandruff. Green tea is not only anti-fungal in nature but also boast antioxidants and anti-inflammation properties, which have a soothing effect on our scalp and help prevent dryness.
7) Egg yolk: The yolk has a nutrient which is highly effective against dandruff. Yolk also acts as a natural hair conditioner which hydrates and nourishes the hair follicles and helps in cleaning of clogged skin pores in the scalp.
8) Curd: Curd can be applied directly on the scalp to remove dandruff and clean the skin pores. It also is anti-inflammation and so highly beneficial in resisting dandruff.
9) Basil leaves: These leaves have anti-fungal and anti-inflammation properties. The leaves can be crushed to form an paste which is very effective against dandruff. The leaves can also be boiled in water and then cooled down and sieved. The water can then be used to wash hair. Such routine can be performed daily without any side effects.
10) Lemongrass oil: Another oil with antibacterial and anti-inflammatory qualities, can definitely help in controlling dandruff and cleaning the scalp. It’s generally recommended to mix a few drops or ounces of the oil in water before washing the hair as it’s very potent.
Can we prevent dandruff? If so, how?
We can definitely take certain measure or make changes in our diet and lifestyle to control and even resist dandruff from affecting our scalp. Such changes when implemented with the treatment mentioned above can definitely provide relief to someone suffering from dandruff.
Here’s the preventive measures we can undertake:
1) Eat a healthy and well balanced diet full of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients required for proper functioning of our body, skin and hair. Make sure to include foods high in healthy fats and vitamins such as spinach, kale, fish, tomatoes, berries, nuts & seeds.
2) Wash hair regularly with a natural shampoo: Washing hair cleans out the dirt and dead skin cells or flakes, which get accumulated and even mixed with sweat and oil. It’s not recommended to wash hair with shampoo everyday but shampooing 2 or 3 times is perfectly fine. Also bear in mind to use a shampoo which has ingredients beneficial to the health of scalp or your hair as many shampoos on the market are loaded with harmful chemicals.
3) Combs and hair brushes should be cleaned regularly as well as they can accumulate the gunk from our hair.
4) Don’t eat too much salty or spicy foods, as these can cause inflammation in our body and skin and cause disruption in assimilation and utilization of required nutrients from food.
5) Protect hair and scalp from too much heat and sun: Our hair and scalp are highly sensitive to too much heat, which can cause hair to weaken and scalp to produce more oil by it’s oil glands. This can lead to clogged pores and accumulation of dead skin cells.
6) Control stress level and maintain a good work-life balance: Though this can sometimes be difficult in modern times when deadlines have to be met, still care should be taken to take proper sleep of at least 7-8 hours everyday so that our body can cope with stress and heal itself from mental and physical exhaustion.
People often overlook that dandruff when not treated and controlled can lead to hair graying and hair fall prematurely. It can block our scalp from providing necessary nutrients to our hair. So if you love your hair and don’t want to lose it before the expected time, you must get rid of dandruff.
Fortunately for everyone, this condition can be treated easily and even prevented by taking the right steps highlighted in this article. Make sure to maintain a healthy diet, proper sleep and shampooing routine and your scalp and hair will thank you for it.