Dandruff is the condition where small flakes of your skin, usually white, fall off from your hair and scalp. You can see them on your shoulders and your clothes. This is considered embarrassing by most people and they are quick to hide it, but inevitably it gives way. Aside from how it looks, it is important to keep dandruff in control as it can impact your scalp and hair health.
Dandruff may occur either when the scalp is very oily, red, itchy, or inflamed. In this case, the hair always appears greasy and dirty even though you may have taken a bath. This may cause greasy flakes to form. The other case is when your scalp is very dry and the skin starts to flake. Some symptoms are:
- Red itchy scalp
- Dry or greasy scales
- In severe cases, reddish to yellowish inflamed bumps on the hairline
- White flaky dots in the hair, or when hair is brushed on the clothes
Some causes of dandruff are:
Seborrheic Dermatitis: You are likely to have this if your case of dandruff is bad. This is a form of eczema that happens in regions of the body that secrete oil like the head secretes sebum. There is also a yeast infection that could happen. There is a type of yeast that feeds on the scalp oils, and some people’s body considers it an irritant and works to produce more and more skin cells, causing dandruff. Just to understand how this works, a person without dandruff usually refreshes their dead scalp cells over a month, whereas a person with dandruff does it between two days to a week. Hence, the extra skin cells are dandruff that we see.
Contact Dermatitis: This can be caused by the reaction of the scalp skin to an allergen. It can cause painful, itchy, and red scalp. This is usually caused by hair-care products or dyes.
Skin dryness: This happens especially during cold and dry weather when the air dries off the scalp’s skin and causes it to flake. These are not oily and are dry scalp flakes that are usually small-sized.
A few other influencing factors are:
People who use shampoo infrequently or too often can cause dandruff. Oily scalps may require regular shampooing, while on the other hand, too much shampooing and hair-care products can strip the scalp of its oils and result in dry scalp-related dandruff.
Dandruff is usually more common between the start of puberty and the age of 20. Most people will never have dandruff above 50.
Due to the properties of the testosterone hormone that stimulate the production of oils in the sebaceous glands, males are more likely to experience dandruff than females.
For people suffering from HIV, AIDS, or people who have had an organ transplant done, Seborrheic Dermatitis is a common occurrence.
Oily skin or oiling your scalp:
Excessively oily skin can lead to dandruff in the skull. Also, applying oil on the scalp when you are already having oily skin there can worsen the itch and flakiness.
Eczema or any other skin disorder history.
Can dandruff cause hair loss?
When the scalp skin is inflamed, most likely when Seborrheic Dermatitis occurs, it can damage hair follicles over time. This causes the scalp to prematurely make the hair go from its growth phase to its falling phase, where the follicle rests and pushes the hair out.
You should treat your dandruff at the earliest to avoid escalating to the stage that may cause hair loss. It is important to be noted that dandruff isn’t the only thing that can cause hair loss, other conditions may need to be explored for hair loss for which you may need to consult your doctor.
Remedies to get rid of dandruff naturally, along with some methods from the Ayurveda:
Tea tree oil:
It has been researched that tea tree oil can attack the specific fungus type that is the cause of Seborrheic Dermatitis and dandruff. Its anti-inflammatory properties help soothe the scalp and prevent the occurrence of large flakes while promoting hair health. Even shampoos with tea tree oil may help. One word of precaution is to make sure your skin is not too sensitive and gets irritated by tea tree oil. In the case of sensitivity, you may have to dilute it with another oil like coconut oil to make sure your scalp absorbs it well. Coconut oil is also great for scalp and hair health.
It is renowned for its various beneficial properties. It is used in various cuisines as a cooking medium, and it is a famous Ayurvedic cure for any ailment resulting from an imbalance in heat or dryness in the body. Similar to its effect on all body skin, it can improve scalp hydration as well causing it to soothe dryness and eliminate dry flaky dandruff. It contains healthy fats and can be included in your diet to reduce overall dryness. It is also said to aid in conditions like eczema that are linked to dandruff as well.
This is the super ingredient in most beauty and cosmetic-related products. It also plays a major role in pharmaceutical products. It can treat burns, and cold sores, and is a moisturizer that has hydration-promoting properties. It has also been known to reduce inflammation and combat fungi. These properties make it a viable remedy for scalp issues whether it be oily scalp or dryness.
Stress alone may not cause dandruff but it can aggravate existing problems. A stress-free mind will always be better for dealing with the condition and not aggravating existing dandruff.
Apple Cider Vinegar:
You can add a few tablespoons to your shampoo or essential oils that you can spray onto your hair. You need to test its effectiveness and monitor constantly, but it could reduce oily scalp, and fight off bacteria and fungus that cause dandruff and scalp conditions.
Baking soda is said to be a mild exfoliating agent. It can remove the presence of scales and itchiness while cleaning the scalp, and possibly remove some fungus and bacteria. You need to beware if your case is of dryness though as this could strip away some oils and dry the scalp further.
An Ayurvedic viewpoint:
A simple analysis of Ayurveda tells us to balance the elements in our body mainly via our diet, and also via our exposure to certain weather and lifestyle conditions. A simple practice is eating cooling foods during the summer, oily and digestive stimulant foods during the rainy season, and maintaining a heat-based food diet during winters. Of course, the exception to all this is your current physical condition, for example, if you are having fatigue, acne, and burning in your urine during the winters, you have to switch to cooling foods till the problem corrects and then balance your diet accordingly. Similarly, if you sleep less, your body tends to be dry and sometimes heated up. Constant monitoring and adaptation are the keys.
Similarly, how all this links to your dandruff situation, can be understood by linking the above-mentioned remedy. If you generally have dry and flaky skin, itchy scalp, dryness, and white flakes of dandruff you can naturally conclude that your body is devoid of moisture and oils. Hence, you may resort to the treatment of oil and moisturizing till the situation is under control. In almost all cases, this will apply to your diet as well, where you should consume oily foods like oily fish, and groundnuts, and add a generous amount of cooking oil to your food. For the condition where your scalp is too oily, you may refer to the more drying remedies, like baking soda, which is abrasive and will rid you of the excess oil, and include drying foods like lentils into your diet.
The key is to always maintain balance, which involves your lifestyle habits including sleeping, exercise, diet, and stress levels. This will mostly keep most health ailments at bay, including dandruff.
What should you do in severe cases of dandruff?
There are over-the-counter medicated shampoos that can be prescribed for severe cases, or even some creams and medications. You must consult your doctor before considering any of these options. It could be caused not only by dandruff, but some skin conditions like Eczema, Psoriasis, Rosacea. If you see pus, redness, or crusting, call your doctor immediately.
The key to dealing with this ailment is maintain proper balance in your diet and your lifestyle. Keep in mind that modern day shampoos and hair-care products advertise a lot of benefits of their labels, but you have to know your limits. Over-shampooing or using conditioners, lotions, gels, and hair creams can also cause the scalp to suffer. Plus, some shampoos say they are anti-dandruff but you must closely monitor your condition and prefer more natural remedies as you can get caught in a vicious cycle of switching from one product to the other, while they all land up aggravating your condition more and more without actually treating the root cause.
You’ll also notice that a general sense of balance improves most major parts of your lifestyle. You will be happier and healthier.