Dandruff is a common chronic scalp condition marked by itchy and flaking skin. It affects almost 50% of the world population and can sometimes be difficult to treat. The condition may worsen during fall or winter when the indoor heating and warm showers can contribute to dry skin, however, it might improve during the summers.
Even though there are many anti-dandruff shampoos available in the market, most of them are ineffective. Despite numerous hair treatments, dandruff might still not leave you alone. But don’t worry, we’re here to help!
Here are some natural remedies that’ll effectively reduce dandruff and improve scalp health:
Tea Tree oil
Tea tree oil has been people’s go-to for skin related problems, including acne, dermatitis, psoriasis and athlete’s foot, for many years. It contains a compound called terpinen-4-ol which has many anti-microbial properties, hampering the growth of fungi or bacteria on the scalp and, hence reducing dandruff.
In a 2018 study, researchers examined the bacterial composition of scalps of 140 Indian women. The results indicated that women with dandruff had more Staphylococcus epidermidis (S. epidermidids) bacteria residing on their skin.
A 2017 review suggested that the compounds present in tree tea oil can control S. epidermidis bacteria, hence, effectively controlling dandruff.
Tea tree oil should not be applied directly to the scalp as it might cause an allergic reaction and lead to inflammation or rashes. Therefore, it’s advisable to dilute it with either coconut oil or your regular shampoo – only a few drops of the oil would be sufficient. Alternatively, there are shampoos containing tea tree oil available in the market as well.
Aloe Vera gel
Aloe Vera has an extensive number of medicinal properties. From reducing inflammation to preventing itchiness, from retaining moisture to promoting wound healing, Aloe Vera does it all.
The gel in its leaves is loaded with antioxidants which may reduce dandruff. According to a research done in 2015, Aloe Vera has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties which can effectively prevent dandruff.
The gel can be applied directly from the plant or by gel extracts available in the market.
Salicylic Acid present in aspirin can help exfoliate dandruff flakes, prevent oil buildup and reduce inflammation. A 4-week-long study involving 19 people showed a lesser severity of scaling in the ones that used the shampoo with salicylic acid.
- Crush one or two uncoated aspirin tablets into a fine powder and mix with your regular shampoo.
- Apply the mixture to the hair, gently massaging your scalp.
- Leave for about 5 minutes and rinse.
- Repeat for about 3 times a week for effective results.
Sodium bicarbonate, commonly known as baking soda, is an exfoliant that can remove dead skin cells and excessive oil from the scalp. It also has anti-fungal properties that can protect the scalp against fungal causing bacteria.
In a study about the effects of baking soda on 31 people with psoriasis, it was found to significantly reduce the irritation and itchiness in a span of 3 weeks only.
You can mix a small amount of baking soda in your regular shampoo and apply on the hair roots. However, it must not be used too frequently as its high pH might irritate and damage the scalp. It can also strip the hair of its natural oils causing dryness and eventually hair fall.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega 3s play an important role in your body. They’re not only one of the key components of cell membrane but are also crucial for the proper functioning of the heart and lungs. Furthermore, they are also responsible for oil production and hydration, hence reducing the risk of dry hair, dry skin and dandruff.
Some symptoms of dandruff, including inflammation, irritation and a dry scalp can be effectively treated by omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3s are abundant in salmon, trout, mackerel, flaxseed, chia seeds and walnuts. They can also be consumed through supplements.
Like Aloe Vera, coconut oil is loaded with medicinal benefits. It can help improve hydration, reduce irritation and prevent fungal growth on scalp.
A test tube study found that coconut extract lowered inflammation on human skin.
Another clinical trial, involving a group of 117 children, ages 1-13, suggested that applying virgin coconut oil to skin led to a 68.23% decrease in atopic dermatitis symptoms.
You can directly apply coconut oil on the scalp and massage for a few minutes. Wash after about 30 minutes with a mild shampoo. Coconut shampoos are also available in the market.
Traditionally, lemongrass oil has been used to treat digestive problems, blood pressure and stress control. However, due to its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, it can help tone down the symptoms of dandruff.
It fights against Malassezia furfur, a yeast associated with dandruff and hence is an active ingredient in many shampoos. It is also known to sooth dry and itchy scalp and keep it moisturized.
According to a study published in 2015, using hair products containing 10% lemongrass oil reduced dandruff by 81%.
You can either massage your hair with lemongrass oil or boil lemongrass in water. The water can then be used to rinse your hair.
Zinc plays an important role in your bodily functions including maintaining your metabolism and catalyzing enzymes. A deficiency of the mineral can lead to a number of symptoms, including the flaking of your scalp i.e. dandruff.
A 2016 study suggested that zinc deficiency can act as a contributing factor for seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff.
Many shampoos targeting the condition are known to contain zinc pyrithione as it prevents fungal growth and removes excess skin cells from the scalp.
You can either take zinc supplements or up the intake of zinc rich foods i.e. animal proteins, nut and whole grains.
Your diet can have dramatic effects on your body. It may not be the root cause of dandruff, but it can promote its symptoms. Fruits and vegetables are rich in essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that may help reduce inflammation.
A study involving 4,379 people showed that individuals who ate fruits were less likely to have seborrheic dermatitis – one of the symptoms of the disease is dandruff.
Another 2018 study showed that biotin deficiency might lead to several skin problems, including seborrheic dermatitis. Biotin, also known as Vitamin G or B7, is a water-soluble vitamin that helps metabolize fats, carbohydrates and proteins. It plays an active role in supporting healthy hair, nails and skin.
Foods with a high biotin content include liver, egg yolks, nut, salmon and nutritional yeast.