What is Dandruff?
Dandruff is the condition of itchy, flaky skin occurring specifically on the scalp. Although many people may feel embarrassed by their dandruff, it is extremely common. 50% of adults experience dandruff. 1
Common Causes of Dandruff
There are a number of factors that can contribute to dandruff. Here are the most common causes. 2 3
- Fungus forming on the surface of the scalp
- An overly oily scalp
- An overly dry scalp
- Excess skin cell growth caused by yeast buildup
- Sensitivity to particular personal care products such as shampoo or hair mousse
- Not shampooing frequently enough
- Friction from brushing hair too often or too vigorously
- Overexposure to sun
- Pressure on the scalp from wearing hats often
- Food sensitivity and/or intolerance
Natural Dandruff Treatments
Research shows the moisturizing nature of coconut oil can help to improve dandruff in some people. 4 Coconut oil is commonly used as a remedy for a number of skin-related conditions, such as eczema and inflammation. 5 To use coconut oil as a dandruff treatment, apply 1-2 tablespoons directly to your scalp and massage it in with your fingers. Let the coconut oil sit for 30 minutes, then rinse your hair and scalp thoroughly with a gentle shampoo. Repeat twice a week.
Tea Tree Oil
One study found that participants who used a shampoo containing 5% tea tree oil daily saw a 41% decrease in dandruff after a month. 6 Tea tree oil has natural anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, which may help clear up dandruff and reduce itching. 7 Keep in mind that applying essential oils directly to the skin can cause irritation, and this is not to be done over open or raw skin. Instead, dilute a few drops of tea tree oil in a carrier oil such as coconut or grapeseed oil before applying it to your scalp, or choose a natural shampoo that contains at least 5% tea tree oil. It is advised to test a small area of skin when using new products, just in case it causes irritation.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Increasing the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet may help reduce dandruff. Omega-3 fatty acids promote skin health by managing hydration and oil production, and speeding up the wound healing process. 8 Additionally, an omega-3 deficiency can result in dry skin and dandruff, so if you suffer from these, increasing the omega-3 fatty acids in your diet may help to reduce the symptoms. 9 To increase your intake of omega-3s, add more fatty fish (such as salmon and mackerel), nuts, and seeds to your diet.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Many people are swapping out their chemical-based shampoo for…. You guessed it, apple cider vinegar (ACV)! Before you hold your nose, and think you will end up smelling like a salad, rest assured that the vinegar smell will not linger. People often find this very simple and cost-effective shampoo replacement helps cleanse the scalp and strip away any residue from hair styling products. Just a word of caution, transfer the ACV from its glass container to something more shower-friendly.
Always speak to your doctor before trying home remedies, and to help you pinpoint the cause of your symptoms. Click below to connect with an ND who will create a health plan as unique as you!
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