What is dandruff?
Dandruff is a common condition of the skin of the head or the scalp which in general causes the appearance of white flakes on the scalp. When the renewal of cells becomes faster, it pushes the older dead cells out and this makes the dandruff more noticeable. In general these are the dry, white flakes of the skin that are constantly found on the head region and fall on the shoulders when you comb your hair. Though dandruff doesn't pose any risk on the health yet it is a matter of concern for the people who suffer from this condition.
Signs and symptoms of dandruff
The main symptom of dandruff or seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp is the formation of white flakes on the scalp. And when the condition is severe, these white flakes are shed on the shoulders and collar region. And such a condition becomes a concern for the people who suffer from dandruff. Apart from the formation of white flakes, the scalp becomes sore, irritated, tight, red and itchy as well.
Though the health of a person suffering from dandruff is not at risk yet it needs to be treated in time and thereby controlled lest it might sometimes leads to hair fall as well. People suffering from dandruff in most cases need not visit a doctor. However, if the parts of scalp become sore, red and too itchy even after several weeks of self-treatment, then it is advisable to visit a doctor / dermatologist.
What are the causes of dandruff?
There are several causes for dandruff and some of these include:
- Fungal infection: Though there are several reasons for dandruff, the most common and known reason is the fungal infection of the scalp. There is a particular type of fungus they usually live on the scalp of most of the people but do not cause much problem. But in some cases these fungi out number in their growth and thus this causes excessive shedding of the dead skin cells in the form of flakes called the dandruff. And even when the head / scalp is exposed to extreme weather conditions, it causes dandruff on the head. People who suffer from dandruff suffer from irritation on the scalp, itching and redness on the scalp. Sometimes people suffering from severe dandruff condition find it difficult to mix freely in the social and feel low self-esteem due to this problem. In general dandruff problem is more common in men than women and also it is common in people with oily skin.
- Improper brushing of hair: People who do not comb / brush their hair properly are at higher risk of suffering from dandruff. Normally, while regular proper brushing of hair, the dead skin cells are shed off and thus removed from the scalp while brushing. Improper combing results in the accumulation of these dead cells and thus lead to dandruff problem
- Irritated and oily skin: People who have an oily skin are easily prone to dandruff. Such an irritated and oily skin affects many areas of the skin which includes the back of the ears, eyebrows and even the sides of the nose and not just the scalp. The patient who is affected with such an irritate skin will have red, greasy skin which is covered with a flaky white or yellow scales and this often results in dandruff formation on the scalp.
- Certain skin conditions: Certain skin conditions of the people like psoriasis, eczema and other skin allergies or disorders sometimes result in the formation of dandruff and people with such skin conditions are much more frequently suffer from dandruff than the other people.
- Certain health problems: There are some health conditions or problems like neurological illnesses, seborrheic dermatitis / irritated skin and other skin allergies, a weak immune system, post surgery and various such health problems which tend to form dandruff on the scalp as the over all health of the person is affected.
- Improper diet: People who take a diet in which there is a deficiency of zinc, B vitamins and some types of fats are easily prone to dandruff than the people who take a balanced diet. Hence food plays a key role in the over all health conditions of an individual.
- Other causes: There are other factors like emotional tension, stressful life, environmental pollution, use of strong shampoos and general exhaustion of the body which lead to dandruff formation.
Treatment for dandruff
- Use of medicated shampoos: There are a good number of medicated shampoos available in the medical stores and after consulting a doctor / dermatologist you can get a medicated shampoos prescribed by the doctor and use the same in case of severe dandruff problem. However, these shampoos contain synthetic ingredients and harsh chemicals which might cause considerable irreparable damage to the root hairs. Hence one should be careful in the usage of such medicated shampoos.
Natural ways to control dandruff
- Regular brushing of the scalp: Though people regularly brush / comb their hair yet they do it in a hurry. So people who have dandruff problem need to spend some time for properly brushing the hair. Use a hair brush with round endings at the teeth and this will help in massaging the scalp and thereby increase the supply of blood to the head region. Brush thorough so that all the dead cells are removed from the scalp and thus the scalp remains neat and clean. Cleanliness is an important factor to control dandruff of the hair. So a clean scalp doesn't give way to dandruff formation.
- Massage the scalp: A regular massage of the scalp with finger tips is an effective way of controlling dandruff as well as controlling hair fall. This can be done either before or after brushing the hair. If you happen to take a hair wash, an hour before you can massage the scalp by moving the fingertips on the scalp round and round. You can even dip the finger tips in warm and pure coconut oil and then massage the scalp. But make sure to wash you hair after an oil massage. Don't let the oil remain on the scalp for a longer period this will help in sticking the dirt and pollutants on the scalp and further worsen the situation. So wash the hair after half-an-hour in case of an oil massage.
- Expose the scalp to the morning Sun: After an oil massage or ordinary massage you can expose your scalp or head to the morning Sun at least for 20-30 minutes. And such an exposure to sun rays is an effective way of treating dandruff. You can expose your head / scalp to the sun rays even with out a massage. But be careful not to expose yourself to sun in extreme summer / severe hot weather as this might result in a sunstroke
- Regular hair wash: As keeping the scalp in hygienic condition is the key factor of controlling dandruff, washing the hair regularly would be a effective way of controlling dandruff. If the hair is too short, one can go for a regular hair wash as this would help in keeping the hair neat and clean and thus reduce the formation / accumulation of white flakes on the scalp. If the hair is of considerable length, then one can wash the hair on alternate days or at least twice a week.
- Avoid exposing to extreme weather conditions: As in some cases, exposure to extreme weather conditions would increase dandruff formation, hence people who suffer from severe dandruff problem should avoid exposing themselves to such extreme weather conditions. For instance even in one place, moving out in extreme hot summer and then after coming home immediately sitting in the AC rooms with minimum temperature. Such an exposure should be avoided to control dandruff.
- Avoid the use of commercial shampoos: The commercially available anti-dandruff shampoos might give a temporary relief from the dandruff but cannot fully help in the removal of dandruff.
Home remedies for controlling dandruff
There are several home remedies that are safe to the health of the hair as well as very effective in not only controlling of dandruff but also in improving the overall health of the hair and thus enhance the hair growth.
- Apply the paste of fenugreek seeds: This is one of the most effective home remedy for controlling dandruff. Soak at least two tablespoons of methi or fenugreek seeds and leave it over night. The next day morning grind it to a paste which will be quite sticky. Apply the paste all over the scalp and then wash your hair after half-an-hour. Use either soap nut powder (rita powder) or shikai powder to wash the hair and avoid the use of shampoos. And while rinsing the hair, rinse with a teaspoon of lime juice in the last rinse as this would be quite beneficial for the control of dandruff. You can repeat this at least twice or thrice a month depending on the severity of the problem.
- Apply sour yogurt: Applying sour curd without cream is another very effective home remedy for the control of dandruff. Remove the cream from the sour curd, make a thinner consistency and then apply this all over the scalp. Let it remain for half-an-hour and then wash the hair with clean water. Avoid shampoos for hair wash instead use herbal products for a better result.
- Wash hair with the paste of green gram powder: Mix cream less curd in green gram flour (moong daal ka powder) and make a paste of it. Wash hair with this paste at least twice a week to get rid of dandruff.
- Apply the paste of fresh neem leaves / need powder: As dandruff is a skin related problem, use of neem leaves paste would be very effective in controlling dandruff. Moreover, as dandruff is mainly a fungal infection, neem leaves paste acts as an ant-infectant and helps in removing the excess fungus from the scalp. Make a paste of either fresh neem leaves or use the commercially available neem powder for making a paste. However, applying the paste of freshly ground neem leaves would be effective in getting rid of the dandruff. Apply the paste all over the scalp and let it remain for 20-30 minutes on the head and then wash the hair.
- Rinse with vinegar: Rinsing the hair with cider vinegar after a hair wash would be effective in controlling hair dandruff. Add a teaspoon full of vinegar to the rinsing water and rinse it at the final stage of rinsing as this helps in dispersing the dandruff from the scalp.
- Healthy diet: As it is a known fact, a healthy and balanced diet plays an important role in the overall health conditions of the body. The person suffering from dandruff need to increase the intake of fresh juicy fruits like apples, pears, grapes, grapefruit, pineapple and peaches and also green leafy vegetables which are rich in various vitamins and minerals. A healthy diet is the key factor of the overall health of a person.
Please remember that if you notice the dandruff formation on your hair in time and follow the natural ways of treatment or home remedies then you can easily get rid of the problem. But in case you neglect dandruff formation in the initial stages, then it will become too severe a problem and you have to strictly follow the natural ways to control it. Further if you neglect it, this might become a serious problem and even some people cannot face the society with this problem due to low self-esteem.
A note: In case the dandruff problem is too severe and is uncontrollable even after following the natural ways of controlling it and then following the home remedies, it is advisable to consult a doctor / dermatologist to get rid of the problem.
Also see: How to control hair fall in a natural way? and How to control premature graying of hair in a natural way?