What Causes Dandruff And How To Get Rid Of It

Gunjan Lal
August 23, 2016
Views : 2335
What Causes Dandruff And How To Get Rid Of It

Dandruff is a chronic yet harmless condition that occurs when your scalp becomes either dry or greasy and builds up white flakes of dead skin that show up in your hair or fall on the shoulders. People often mistake dandruff as being something that is produced by a flaky scalp.

Never mind dandruff being harmless, it can be super embarrassing for those who have it. Dandruff usually starts between the ages of 10 and 20 and affects up to 40% of people over the age of 30.

Causes of Dandruff

Cause of Dandruff

Skin cells are formed on your scalp constantly, therefore, it is a normal process for dead skin cells to shed. With dandruff, these skin cells are discarded at a much faster rate than normal. Oil generated from your scalp causes the skin cells to cluster together and materialize as white flakes.

A number of things apart from dry skin can also cause dandruff, for example, sensitivity to hair products, and skin conditions such as seborrheic dermatitis (a skin condition that causes red skin and scaly patches, mainly on your scalp), psoriasis, or eczema (basically means inflammation of the skin).

Another cause of dandruff can be the overgrowth of yeast. This overgrowth can be caused by reasons such as too much oil on the scalp, stress, hormones, or problems with the immune system.

Dandruff - Symptoms and Complications

The symptoms of dandruff are quite common and known to almost everybody, these include itchy, scaly or red scalp as well as white shreds of dead skin in the hair and on the shoulders. Commonly dandruff flakes are present scattered throughout the scalp.

If seborrheic dermatitis (also known as seborrheic eczema) is the cause of dandruff, the symptoms normally appear gradually over time. The scalp becomes greasy or dry and feels itchy. As the skin cells die, they turn into yellowish coloured scales. A bad case of seborrheic dermatitis may also cause similar symptoms in other parts of the body. Reddish or yellowish coloured scaling can surface on the hairline, on the nose and chest, or in and around the ears. Newborn babies affected with this may get a thick crusty rash on the scalp, known as cradle cap.

The shreds associated with psoriasis look like silver shavings, which may commonly show up on the ears, extremities, palms, and soles of feet

Dandruff is a condition that you can pretty much diagnose by yourself from the symptoms of an itchy scalp, a dry, and scaly scalp. A dermatologist or doctor would usually make the diagnosis of psoriasis or seborrhea dermatitis based on the appearance of the skin. Seborrheic dermatitis appears as red looking skin with light, greasy, yellow scales and plaques with blurred margins whereas psoriasis is mostly associated with scaly, silver coloured well-defined plaques.

Why should you shampoo every day?

Why should shampoo every day

Usually, dermatologists suggest against shampooing your hair daily, the reason being that you might end up stripping your scalp and hair of its natural oils and cause more irritation. Dandruff creates an opposite problem. If you don't shampoo enough you will only end up making dandruff worse, it causes additional oil and dead skin cells to gather on your scalp, which the yeast just continues to feed upon. To get rid of dandruff from your scalp, you need to clear out all the unnecessary junk, which a regular shampoo would fail to do. Search for a medicated dandruff shampoo, these are easily available in medical stores even on online sites, look out for one that contains selenium sulfide, ketoconazole, or zinc. If your hair is rough, and you are worried that daily shampooing could make it more brittle, you could use an anti dandruff conditioner too.

Dandruff that can't be cured, can be controlled

If you are prone to dandruff, sadly, it's most likely an issue that will continue to occur. Still, you should not wait for flakes to make an appearance before you start treating them, you can take defensive action to avoid sudden flare-ups. Foods high in trans and saturated fats cause your sebaceous glands to produce more oil, which can make dandruff worse. You can start by avoiding these fats, and include fruits and vegetables that contain B vitamins and zinc in your diet. This will help keep the scraps of dandruff at bay. You could also consider taking a probiotic, any of a group of essential bacteria that can be found in yogurt can be taken as a supplement to withstand the overgrowth of yeast.

Your Scalp Is Not The Only Place Where You Can Get Dandruff

These embarrassing oily flakes are not restricted only to your scalp. It is not uncommon for men and women to discover flakes of dandruff in their eyebrows or around their ears and sometimes even along the sides of their nose. They can basically manifest anywhere an excess of oil is produced. Mostly such scaly patches arise in addition to a flaky scalp. If you tend to have these extra skin shedding spots, you can gently use your dandruff shampoo to clean them when you shampoo your hair.

Remedies to Treat Dandruff at Home

Apple Cider Vinegar or White Vinegar Rinse

Rinsing your hair with either Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) or white vinegar can prove to be quite an effective way to treat dandruff. ACV addresses the root of your dandruff problem. To put it simply, dandruff is the outcome of the skins cells maturing and dying too fast, accumulating, and causing irritation. The acidity of apple cider vinegar changes the pH of your scalp, making it difficult for yeast to grow. Vinegar gets rid of the gathered unwanted skin that flakes off in the form of dandruff. It will neither clog your pores nor cause more damage. By now we know that an overgrowth of yeast or fungus can also cause dandruff, and vinegar possesses antifungal properties. So giving your hair a final rinse (after shampooing) with apple cider vinegar can be beneficial in getting rid of dandruff.

Things you'll need to make the rinse

1 cup warm water (or half a cup, depending upon the length of your hair)

1 cup ACV or white vinegar (or half a cup, depending upon the length of your hair)

A bowl or a cup

Now, Mix together the vinegar and warm water in a bowl. Pour the mix all over your hair and scalp, scrub it around carefully for 4 to 5 minutes, and then rinse it thoroughly with plain water. Wait about 8 to 10 hours before taking a normal shower again. Repeat this once each week or once in two weeks, depending on your need.

Use Tea Tree Oil To Fend Off Dandruff

Tea tree oil

An excess of oil is mostly the root cause of dandruff but some essential oils can prove to be helpful in keeping it under control. A study revealed that shampoos with as less as 5 percent tea tree oil can significantly improve the severity of dandruff. So you can add a couple of drops of tea tree oil to your regular shampoo as you wash normally.

The oil extracted from the tea tree leaves have antifungal properties and it provides an overall pacificity to your skin, especially when it is irritably itchy or sore. Be sure that you don't ingest tea tree oil, it is meant for topical use only.

Aloe Vera Gel

Aloe Vera gel may be used more commonly for its skin benefits or to help minor burns, it can also help provide you relief from dandruff. It works because its components inhibit the process of skin cell growth. To put it simply, it means that the stuff that makes up Aloe Vera gel slows down the increased growth of the cells, and since dandruff is often caused by cells growing and dying rapidly, aloe vera gel can help restore them to normalcy.

You don't need many things, just a proper amount of Aloe Vera gel so that you're able to spread it all around your scalp freely. Now, apply the gel to your scalp and let it stay for 15 to 20 minutes, then shampoo it off.

Baking Soda Paste

Baking soda is one of the proven and highly recommended remedies to get rid of dandruff. The best thing about it is that you can probably find it lying somewhere around your kitchen. Using baking soda on your scalp and hair will help in clearing out dandruff and give you a clean scalp. The absorbing quality of baking soda helps in removing excess oil, dead cells and dirt from your scalp. It assists in clearing out excessive sebum from your scalp without causing your hair to dry. Baking soda also acts as a natural cleansing agent. It clears your scalp of dead cells and oils along with maintaining its natural moisture content. The fine grain-like texture of baking soda gently scrubs exfoliating dead cells present on your scalp. Lastly, baking soda acts like a dry shampoo by eliminating oil and dirt from your hair and scalp leaving hair shiny and soft.

Things you'll need to make baking soda paste

2 to 3 tablespoons of baking soda

1/4 cup of rose water

Now, mix the baking soda in rose water to make the paste. Apply the mix on your scalp carefully and massage for 2 to 3 minutes creating a slightly scrubbing effect which will help you lose the dead cells. Rinse with cold water. Do Not use shampoo, simply rinse out the paste with plain cold water.

Treat Your Scalp To Neem Leaves

Neem Leaves for hair

Neem leaves make an awesome herbal home remedy for dandruff. Its properties not only relieve itching but also act as an antifungal herb inhibiting the overgrowth of the fungus that causes dandruff.

You will need

2 handfuls of neem leaves and

3 to 4 cups of hot water

Now, add two handfuls of neem leaves to three or four cups of hot water and let it stay overnight. Next morning, strain the liquid and use it to rinse your scalp and hair. It relieves itching and keeps your scalp healthy and defends against infections. To prevent dandruff, you can also make a paste of the leftover soaked neem leaves and apply on your scalp. Rinse it off with water after thirty to forty-five minutes.


Lemons are another important defense (besides baking soda) that you can find in your kitchen (or refrigerator). They contain antifungal properties that combat dandruff causing fungus. Lemons are abundantly rich in vitamin C and citric acid that fights against dandruff. They help in moisturizing your scalp, shed away dead skin cells, and remove the stickiness on the scalp. The acidic quality of lemons helps in balancing your scalp's pH level. It's healing property reduces itching and soothes irritation. It also contains important antioxidants and vitamins which are helpful in promoting healthy scalp and healthy hair.

Just massage 2 tablespoons lemon juice nicely into your scalp, let it sit for 2 to 3 minutes and rinse with water. Then take 1 teaspoon lemon juice and stir it into 1 cup water and rinse your hair with it. You can repeat this routine daily until your dandruff completely disappears.

Coconut Oil

Coconut Oil for hair

Coconut oil works as an amazing deep moisturizer which helps to take care of dry scalp and fights away dandruff effectively. Like almost all remedies mentioned above, coconut oil too has antifungal properties which treat the fungus that causes dandruff. It works incredibly well for reconditioning dry hair and its credits go to its molecular structure as it helps penetrate the hair shaft, repairing and preventing damage getting past the cuticle from inside out. It has capric acid, lauric acid, and vitamin E that helps in restructuring your hair, increase the hair's strength by preventing protein loss and finally boosting the shine in your hair. It has nutritional and antibiotic properties that possess high viscosity that helps to prevent the dryness in the scalp and dandruff when applied regularly.

Take pure coconut oil which is in solid form, heat it either on the stove or in the microwave to get hot liquid coconut oil (not too hot). Apply this hot oil directly on your scalp (not the hair) and massage it gently into your scalp with your fingertips. Now, cover your head with a shower cap or towel and allow it to sit on your scalp for 15 to 20 minutes.

Rinse your hair thoroughly (using a deep moisturizing conditioner) and continue this routine for once a week to control dandruff completely.

Gunjan Lal

Gunjan Lal

Hi! I’m Gunjan, a self-proclaimed tea fanatic and intrigued with alternative ways to lead a healthy life. I firmly believe that we should take care of our bodies because it’s the only place we live in.

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