It is annoying, disgusting, disturbing and embarrassing! It causes us to constantly peer over our shoulders, scratch when no one is looking and wash our hair several times a day. We are talking about dandruff which has become a part of life with todays stressed out urbanites. There are only a lucky few who haven’t faced this problem at least once in a life. Even with the innumerable products – shampoos, oils, conditioners, tonics that are available, it is difficult to find which among them is the most effective. This article aims to give you information on basic causes of dandruff and home remedies as well as tips to get rid of it.
What is Dandruff?
Dandruff is the flakes of dead skin that are seen on the scalp. Shedding of dead skin is a part of regular process where the dead skin cells falls and new layer is formed underneath. However certain factors cause excessive shedding of the skin. When the white or grey flakes are visible, you have dandruff. The dandruff flakes are either dry or greasy.
Fungus: Generally dandruff is caused due to fungal infection, the superficial fungus called Pityrosporum ovale is present all over the body but in some cases the fungus multiplies too fast. This fungus feeds off the sebum or the oil secreted by the sebaceous glands in the scalp which causes more secretion and the dead skin and dirt sticks to it, leading to growth of more fungus and more dandruff.
Oily Skin: Other common cause is irritated, oily skin also known as Seborrheic dermatitis which causes the sebaceous glands to secrete more sebum through the skin. This clogs the pores and causes grime to collect leading to oily, greasy dandruff.
Dry skin: Those with dry skin are also likely to get dandruff especially during the winter months. The dry, cold air worsens the dryness in the skin leading to dandruff. Dandruff due to dry skin contains smaller, non greasy flakes.
Not brushing, washing: Not washing hair regularly causes the dust, grime and sebum to collect causing dandruff. Even insufficient brushing and combing can cause dandruff as combing causes the dead skin to fall off.
Excessive use of Products: Hair gels, shampoos, hair sprays, conditioners are a part of your hair regime. But sometimes excessive use of these products irritates the scalp leading to dandruff.
Stress: Experts agree that there is a link between stress and health of the hair and in many cases excessive stress and anxiety causes dandruff. The reason is Cortisol the hormone secreted during stress suppresses the immune system causing the growth of yeast on the scalp that leads to dandruff.
Seasonal changes: For many people a change in the season is the cause for flaking.
Some Habits to get rid of Dandruff:
- Regular washing of hair- Wash your hair everyday - with shampoo used on alternate days when you have serious dandruff problem, and then twice a week after it is under control. Choose a good anti-dandruff shampoo, apply it on your scalp and let it stay for 5 minutes before rinsing off. Make sure all of the shampoo and conditioner you applied is washed away.
- Regularly Oiling- Oil your hair with coconut or any other hair oil at least once a week. Massage the oil gently on the scalp, massaging improves circulation and helps get rid of dandruff.
Brush your hair- Brushing your hair regularly ensures that the dead skin is effectively dusted off so that they do not cause clogging. Brush your hair from the roots to the ends so that the sebum gets effectively distributed along the length of your hair.
Diet- Eat lots of fruits, vegetables and opt for whole grain foods and foods rich in Vitamin B. Avoid foods that are oily, fatty, sweet and salty, also stay away from alcohol. Prefer to eat things that are natural which contain vitamins and nutrients that promote good health of the hair.
- Exercise and Sleep- Getting adequate sleep as well exercise will ensure that your immunity is at its best so that your overall health and immunity system are fine and you will not suffer from dandruff.
Effective Home remedies:
Fenugreek or Meethi seeds: Soak two teaspoon of fenugreek seeds in water overnight and grind it to a thick paste in the morning. Apply this paste to your scalp and let it stay for half an hour and wash it off preferably using a herbal shampoo.
Curd: Take sufficient amount of curd in a bowl and add lime juice to it. Apply this mixture to your scalp for half an hour and wash with a mild shampoo.
Lemon Juice: Mix two tablespoons of lime juice with two table spoons of warm water and apply from the scalp to the ends of the hair. Keep it for 10 minutes and then wash off. You can also put two teaspoons of lime juice with coconut oil and massage your hair, leave it for 2-3 hours and then wash.
Sandalwood and lemon: Make sandalwood paste and add lemon juice in the proportion of 1:3. Mix the paste well and apply it to your scalp. The sandalwood will soothe the irritated skin and lemon will stop the excessive secretion of sebum.
Curry leaves: Curry leaves are extremely good for healthy hair. You need to grind a few curry leaves, mix with coconut oil and massage the scalp. Also increase the intake of curry leaves in which also helps to fight dandruff .
Jojoba oil: Apply jojoba oil to your scalp regularly. Jojoba oil moisturizes the scalp, reduces the sebum secretion and balances the pH of your scalp thus fighting dandruff.
Aloe vera gel: Aloe vera contains 12 substances that have anti inflammatory properties that sooth the skin. Aloe vera also moisturizes the skin, balances the pH and has anti fungal properties so apply aloe vera gel on your scalp and let it be for half an hour before washing it off. Drinking aloe vera juice is also a good way to fight dandruff as it contains a good amount of Vitamin B, Vitamin E and Folic Acid which all promote hair growth and healthy scalp.
Zinc based Shampoos: Zinc based shampoos are effective in fighting the fungal and yeast infection in the scalp. Even taking zinc based supplements help in reducing dandruff.
- Do not use anti-dandruff shampoo everyday or after the dandruff is under control as the shampoo is very harsh. Apply it not more than twice a week.
- Do not wash your hair every day with harsh shampoos if your scalp is irritated as it will further worsen the problem and dry up your scalp.
Eat a healthy diet, take adequate rest, wash your hair regularly, massage it with oil once a week and avoid too many chemicals on your hair –your dandruff will be taken care of. If all these do not help and your dandruff problem worsens, consult a dermatologist.