An itching, flaking scalp can be more than just irritating, it could be a sign of dandruff. Millions of people suffer from this condition, but the good news is that it's fairly easy to treat. There are many store-bought treatments, and even home remedies that you use to fight those frustrating flakes.
What Causes Dandruff?
Dandruff can be caused by several different factors including:
- Dry scalp: One of the leading causes of dandruff is a dry scalp, which can be caused by exposure to overly-cold or overly-hot temperatures.
- Buildup of hair products: If you don't wash your hair often enough, hair dyes, shampoos and other products can build and irritate the scalp, especially if your scalp is sensitive to haircare products.
If you have dry skin on other areas of your body such as the knees, elbows or armpits and eyebrows, you may have psoriasis, eczema or seborrheic dermatitis. Check with your doctor if you think you may have a condition more serious than dandruff.
Dandruff is most commonly treated with shampoos that have ingredients that are specially-designed to fight flaking, drying and itching. When looking for a dandruff shampoo, it's important to check the label for these ingredients:
- Zinc pyrithione: This ingredient will kill the bacteria and fungus that is causing your dandruff and it's also good for removing excess oil and dead skin from the scalp.
- Selenium sulfide: This ingredient is good for the scalp because it slows the aging of the cells so they won't come off as quickly. But if you have light-colored or color-treated hair, be careful; selenium sulfide has been known to discolor these types of hair.
- Salicylic acid: This ingredient can dry your scalp so make sure to use conditioner and other moisturizing products along with shampoos that contain this ingredient.
- Ketoconazole: This ingredient is also a bacteria-killer and can reduce the amount of DHT, or Dihydrotestosterone, that has built up on the scalp. This ingredient can be especially useful to men suffering from Male Pattern Baldness.
- Coal tar: Like selenium sulfide, coal tar reduces the rate at which skin cells die. This ingredient is probably best for severe cases of dandruff.
- Tea tree oil: If you prefer a more natural way to rid your scalp of dandruff, look for a tea tree oil shampoo. Tea tree oil is an essential plant oil that has also been used to treat acne and yeast infections.
There are many shampoos on the market that are specifically designed to combat dandruff including Head & Shoulders and Selsun Blue. But if you don't want to stray from your favorite brand, never fear. You can still get an effective dandruff shampoo from the major labels including:
- Pantene Pro-V Anti-Dandruff 2-in-1 Shampoo and Conditioner
- Herbal Essences No Flakin' Way Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
- Garnier Fructis Fortifying 2-in-1 Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
- Neutogena T/Gel Daily Control 2-in-1 Dandruff Shampoo
- Aveda Scalp Benefits Balancing Shampoo
- Aveda Scalp Remedy Dandruff Solution (a leave-in treatment)
- Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Special Shampoo
Dandruff Home Remedies
If you prefer a do-it-yourself remedy or just want a cleaner, more natural way to get rid of dandruff, here are some home concoctions you can make:
- According to Niche Topics, you can mix apple cider vinegar, apple juice, rum extract and ground cloves with your regular shampoo.
- You can also add lavender oil, rosemary, birch and cedar wood to your regular shampoo.
- If you want a homemade shampoo that's 100 percent natural, try adding natural soap, potash, rosemary oil and eucalyptus oil to boiled water.
In addition to shampoos and other hair treatments, there are some other tricks that can not only help relieve the symptoms of dandruff, but can prevent it as well:
- Wash you hair everyday. The more often you wash your hair, the less dry skin you'll see.
- Washing twice in the shower may also help get to the root of the problem. The first cleansing will get rid of the excess buildup and the second cleansing will penetrate the scalp, especially if you leave it in your hair for at least five minutes.
- Make sure to rinse with either conditioner or lemon juice in order to keep the scalp moisturized. Dandruff shampoos can really dry out the scalp and a rinse will help lock-in moisture. Also, coal tar and tea tree oil both tend to have a strong odor, so rinsing afterward will help get rid of that smell.
- If your shampoo is too harsh for you or just isn't working, switch to a milder shampoo. Switching up the shampoo you use can also help keep the scalp from building up a resistance to the active ingredients.
- Try to use hair products less often. Gels, mousses and hairsprays can build-up on the scalp, which can contribute to flaking and itching.
- Speaking of itching, as tempting as it may be to scratch your scalp, don't do it. If you puncture the scalp, your wounds could be harmed by the shampoo or other hair products including dyes.
Dandruff can be irritating and even embarrassing, but there are many ways to treat it. Finding an effective dandruff shampoo, or making your own, as well as washing your scalp more often are surefire ways to keep your scalp healthy and flake-free.