Dandruff is a scalp condition, that causes flakes of skin to appear on the scalp. It is also accompanied by itching. Dandruff is said to be more common in people with oily skin. The human skin is forever renewing itself. As the skin cells renew, the old ones are expelled. Sometimes the new cells are produced at a fast rate, causing dandruff to be more noticeable.
Symptoms and Causes
The symptoms are flaking and scaling of the skin, accompanied by itching. People with dandruff may experience irritation and redness of the scalp. Dandruff is mainly caused by the shedding of dead skin cells. This actually happens all over our body, but we are able to see them on our heads as the hair traps the dead skin before they float away unnoticed. The oil from the hair and scalp clumps up the cells until they turn into visible flakes that we see and call dandruff.
Dandruff may be caused by many factors. Experts are of the opinion that people who do not consume enough of the B vitamins and zinc may be prone to dandruff. There also seems to be a link between stress and dandruff. Stress somehow contributes to the proliferation of skin cells. People with certain skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema have a greater chance of developing dandruff. Dry skin may also lead to the formation of dandruff.
Dandruff can also be caused by a fungal infection (Malassezia is a fungus that lives on people’s scalp. It may grow out of control and cause dandruff). In most cases, it is produced when the scalp doesn’t receive a sufficient supply of blood. Consequently, there is a lack of protein in the skin, which becomes dry and flakes. High sugar intake could also be a contributing factor, say some physicians. This may be because dandruff is considered to be a mild version of seborrheic dermatitis.
Some Simple Measures to Treat Dandruff
There are some simple measures we can adopt on a day-to-day basis to prevent and treat dandruff.
- Keep the hair and scalp clean to minimise the accumalation of dead cells.
- Brush hair daily to improve circulation and remove any flakiness.
- The scalp can also be massaged thoroughly everyday, using one’s fingertips and working systematically over the head. Doing this before or after brushing the hair, stimulates circulation, dislodges dandruff and helps hair growth.
- Spending a little time in sunlight is good for the hair and is another useful measure to treat dandruff.
- Use a mild shampoo. Avoid harsh shampoos if you have a sensitive skin.
- Eat nutrient rich food. Some nutrients are very essential. Eat a diet which is high in zinc and B vitamins. Flaxseed oil is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and may help cut down on itching and flaking. Cod liver oil improves lack lustre hair and dry scalp.
- Lack of vitamin A can cause a flaky scalp. Vitamin A helps create sebum, which is a skin oil, that helps to keep scalp and hair follicles lubricated. It is said that too much vitamin A can cause hair loss, so limit the intake accordingly.
Ayurvedic Remedies to treat Dandruff
It is important to improve circulation to the scalp. Massage for a few minutes daily with neem oil. Mix the neem oil with sesame oil and massage it into the scalp. If a fungal infection of the skin is causing dandruff, then the neem oil which is a disinfectant helps heal it.
Another ayurvedic home remedy for dandruff is to mix 2 egg whites with the juice of one lime. Mix it well and apply it to the hair. Let it stay for half an hour. Wash with neem soap. The egg white provides the scalp with the lacking protein and helps remove dandruff.
Home Remedies to treat Dandruff
A very effective home remedy is fenugreek seeds. Soak 2 tbsps of fenugreek seeds overnight in water and grind to a paste in the morning. Apply on the scalp and leave for half an hour. Wash hair thoroughly with Shikakai (Soap pod) or Ritha (Soapnut) solution. A paste of fresh fenugreek leaves applied on the scalp regularly before taking bath also helps eradicate dandruff.
Make a powder of green gram. Mix 2 tbsps of this powder in half a cup of curd. Washing the hair twice a week with this mix helps cure dandruff. Massaging the scalp with the only curd which has been fermenting for three days, also helps treat dandruff. Massage this curd into the scalp and wash it after half an hour.
A few drops of lime juice mixed with an equal quantity of amla (gooseberry) juice, applied to the scalp every night helps treat dandruff.
A study found that a solution containing 0.5% tea tree oil offered protection against Pityroporum ovale, a dandruff-causing fungus.
Massaging the hair with rosemary tea or with the essential oil of bay can also be beneficial.
Burdock and nettle can be taken internally as a tonic for the scalp.
Rub the juice of snake gourd into the scalp. Wash after 30 minutes. Repeat this once a week for at least a month. This helps treat dandruff.
Rinse the hair with nettle or marigold infusion after shampooing hair as the final rinse. This may help remove dandruff.
Wash hair with two eggs beaten in one-half cup of lukewarm water.
Make a nettle solution by steeping a quarter cup of dried nettles in one cup of boiling water. Cool and add a quarter cup of cider vinegar and massage this into your scalp twice a day.
Apple cider vinegar used as a rinse is a folk remedy to cure dandruff. Warm the vinegar, pour it on the head, and wrap a towel around the head. Wash after an hour.
Boil a handful of fresh neem leaves in a litre of water. Simmer for four to five minutes. Let it cool. Filter and use as a rinse after washing hair in soapnut decoction. This will prevent dandruff as well as hair loss.
Sometimes the condition can be successfully treated by using vitamin E oil on the scalp as a hair tonic.
Boil Soap pod (Acacica concinna/Shikakai) in the water in a ratio of 1:50 for 10 minutes. Cool and filter. Use this decoction to rinse the hair.