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Dandruff Natural Remedies: Do They Work?

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Itchy, flaky, scaly scalp? You could have dandruff. Seborrheic dermatitis (dandruff) is a common skin disorder that mainly affects your scalp. Dandruff causes your skin to shed dead skin cells at an unusually fast rate, and it can be embarrassing and difficult to treat.

There are a number of dandruff treatments available over the counter, but some people prefer natural remedies. Before trying a natural remedy, it's a good idea to speak with your doctor to make sure it's safe for you and won't interact with any medications you're taking.

But like all natural remedies, there is no guarantee that they will work for everyone. A healthy amount of cynicism is always warranted when it comes to claims of natural remedies, especially if you have pre-existing health conditions or are taking medications. And keep in mind that if your dandruff is caused by another condition, such as psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis, or eczema, natural remedies may not be effective.

So let's take a look at some of the most popular natural dandruff remedies to see if there's any science to back up the claims.

What is Dandruff?

Dandruff is a condition of the scalp that causes flakes of skin to appear. The flakes are usually white or yellowish and can be oily or dry. Dandruff is a common condition, and it is not contagious, nor does it cause hair loss unless the scratching and irritation associated with it damages the hair follicles.

There are few different ailments or issues that can cause dandruff. These include:

Dry skin: When the skin on your scalp is too dry, it can lead to dandruff. This is because dry skin can cause the scalp to produce excess oil, which can then lead to flakes of skin appearing.

Seborrheic dermatitis: This is a condition that can cause the skin to become oily, red, and scaly. It is often the result of an overgrowth of a yeast-like fungus called Malassezia. When this happens, it can lead to dandruff.

Psoriasis: This is a condition that causes the skin to produce too many skin cells. The excess skin cells can then flake off, leading to dandruff.

Sensitivity to Certain Hair Care Products: Some people may be sensitive to certain ingredients in hair care products, such as shampoos, conditioners, or hair dyes. This can lead to an itchy, flaky scalp, and ultimately, dandruff.

If you think you may have dandruff, it is best to see a doctor or dermatologist for diagnosis and treatment. But, there are some natural remedies that may help to relieve the symptoms of dandruff.

8 Natural Home Remedies for Dandruff Relief

1. Tea Tree Oil

Dandruff caused by oily skin, dry skin, or even a skin reaction to hair care products, can be soothed and prevented with tea tree oil.

How does it work? Tea tree oil has natural antifungal and antibacterial properties that can help to control the fungus that causes dandruff. This can help to soothe the scalp and prevent dandruff from coming back. The properties in tea tree oil can also help to regulate oil production on the scalp, which can help to keep dandruff at bay.

Does science back it up? Yes! In a study that contained 126 people with dandruff, it was found that those who used a shampoo with 5% tea tree oil in it had a 41% reduction in symptoms after just 4 weeks. Not only that, but the tea tree oil also improved the greasiness and itchiness that came with the dandruff. This was compared to the placebo group who saw little to no change.

How to use tea tree oil for dandruff: To use tea tree oil to treat dandruff, mix 2-3 drops of tea tree oil with an equal amount of carrier oil like jojoba or coconut oil. Apply the mixture to your scalp and massage it in. Leave it on for 20 minutes, then shampoo your hair as usual. You can use this treatment a few times a week.

2. Aloe Vera

Aloe vera is a natural plant that has been used for centuries to treat a variety of skin conditions, from burns to acne. It’s also effective in treating dandruff, thanks to its anti-inflammatory and antifungal properties.

How does it work? Aloe vera can help to soothe the scalp and reduce inflammation, which can help to reduce dandruff. The antifungal properties in aloe vera can also help to control the fungus that causes dandruff. When the scalp is inflamed, it can lead to an overgrowth of fungus, so reducing inflammation can help to control dandruff.

Does science back it up? Mostly. There is some more research that should be done in order to fully confirm if aloe vera is effective in treating dandruff. There was a review that said the antibacterial and antifungal properties in aloe vera could help protect against dandruff, and there was also a test-tube study that confirmed aloe vera may. reduce inflammation.

How to use aloe vera for dandruff: You can buy aloe vera gel at most stores, or you can extract the gel from a fresh aloe vera leaf. Apply the gel to your scalp and massage it in. Leave it on for 20 minutes, then shampoo your hair as usual. You can use this treatment a few times a week.

3. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is another natural remedy that can help to soothe and prevent dandruff due to its antifungal and antibacterial properties. It can also help to moisturize the scalp and hair, which can be helpful for those with dry skin.

How does it work? The antifungal and antibacterial properties in coconut oil can help to control the fungus that causes dandruff. This can help to soothe the scalp and prevent dandruff from coming back. This oil is also known for its ability to moisturize the scalp and hair. This can be helpful for those with dry skin, which can often lead to dandruff.

Does science back it up? Applying coconut oil to the scalp led to significant improvements in the scalp microbiome and certain markers of dandruff in a 12-week study in 140 women. Additionally, Some research suggests that coconut oil may improve skin hydration when used as a moisturizer, which could in turn help with dandruff (a side effect of eczema).

How to use coconut oil for dandruff: To use coconut oil for dandruff, massage it into your scalp and leave it on for 20 minutes. Shampoo your hair as usual. You can use this treatment a few times a week. You can also try using coconut oil as a leave-in conditioner. Apply it to your hair after showering and comb it through.

4. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar has long been used as a natural remedy for many different ailments. When it comes to dandruff, apple cider vinegar can help to control the fungus that causes it and can also help to regulate the pH of the scalp. This can help to soothe the scalp and prevent dandruff from coming back.

How does it work? The acidic properties of apple cider vinegar can help to control the fungus that causes dandruff. Acid is helpful for keeping the fungus in check and can also help to regulate the pH of the scalp by keeping it from becoming too alkaline. This can help to soothe the scalp and prevent dandruff from coming back.

Does science back it up? Evidence is inconclusive, but some people have found success using apple cider vinegar for dandruff. While the acidic properties of apple cider vinegar can help to control the fungus that causes dandruff, more research is needed to confirm its effectiveness. It is more likely that the killing of dead skin cells and the regulation of the pH of the scalp that is helping to prevent dandruff.

How to use apple cider vinegar for dandruff: To use apple cider vinegar to treat dandruff, mix 1 part apple cider vinegar with 1 part water. Apply the mixture to your scalp and massage it in. Remove it after a few minutes with a mild shampoo. You can use this treatment once a week.

5. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for overall health, but they can also be helpful in treating dandruff.

How does it work? The anti-inflammatory properties of omega-3 fatty acids can help to soothe the scalp and reduce irritation and inflammation. Those with omega-3 deficiencies have been found to be more likely to suffer from dandruff.

Does science back it up? Yes! It is confirmed that a deficiency in omega-3 not only causes dandruff but can also make it worse. Dry skin, itchiness, and inflammation are all common symptoms of omega-3 deficiency. Plus, the anti-inflammatory properties of omega-3 have been shown to be effective in treating dandruff.

How to use omega-3 for dandruff: The best way to get omega-3 fatty acids is through diet. Include fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and sardines in your diet, or take a fish oil supplement. Plant based options include flaxseed, chia seeds, and hemp seeds. You can also use products that contain omega-3, like coconut oil or olive oil, on your scalp. Massage the oil into your scalp and leave it on for 20 minutes before shampooing as usual.

6. Baking Soda

The antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties in baking soda can help to soothe the scalp and get rid of dandruff. However, more research is needed to confirm its efficacy.

How does it work? Baking soda can help to soothe the scalp and reduce inflammation. It also has antifungal properties that can help to control the fungus that causes dandruff through its ability to kill off yeast and bacteria.

Does science back it up? There is some research to suggest that baking soda can be effective in treating dandruff. A study from several years ago found that baking soda had strong antifungal effects against many common strains of fungus that cause skin infections. In 79% of cases, the fungus was completely inhibited from growing after 7 days. However, more research is needed to determine the effectiveness of baking soda on psoriasis, skin hydration, and skin redness, as one study found no effect.

How to use baking soda for dandruff: To use baking soda for dandruff, mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda with water to form a paste. Apply the paste to your scalp and massage it in. Leave it on for 5 minutes, then rinse it off with warm water. You can use this treatment a few times a week.

7. Asprin

Could an everyday pain reliever be the solution to your dandruff woes? Turns out, aspirin may be able to help.

How does it work? The main ingredient in aspirin is salicylic acid. This is the same ingredient that is found in many dandruff shampoos. Salicylic acid helps to break down the oils and dead skin cells that can build up on the scalp and cause dandruff.

Does science back it up? Yes! A study found that a shampoo with salicylic acid helped reduce irritation and itching for 10 people with scalp inflammation. The shampoo also had other ingredients like glycolic acid and urea, so those likely contributed to the improvement as well. In another older study, 19 people with dandruff used two shampoos, one containing piroctone olamine and salicylic acid, and the other containing zinc pyrithione. Both shampoos decreased dandruff, but the one containing salicylic acid was more effective in reducing the severity of scaling.

How to use aspirin for dandruff: To use aspirin to treat dandruff, mix 2 crushed aspirin tablets with a small amount of shampoo. Massage the mixture into your scalp and leave it on for 5 minutes. Rinse it out with warm water. You can use this treatment once a week.

8. Other Ways You May Naturally Improve Dandruff

Probiotics: Probiotics are great for many things, including dandruff. Probiotics contain the same healthy bacteria that live on our scalp. By taking them orally or using them topically you help to restore the balance of good and bad bacteria on your head, as well as regulating your immune system.

Minimizing Stress: Stress is also a major trigger of dandruff. When we are stressed our immune system weakens and we are more susceptible to infections, including fungal infections. When our immune system is not functioning properly, we are also more likely to suffer from other health problems, such as anxiety, depression and other mental disorders.

Avoiding Allergens: If you know you are allergic to a particular food, you should avoid it. If you are not sure what you are allergic to, you can try an elimination diet to find out what your triggers are.

Some people are also allergic to fragrances, dyes and other chemicals in hair care products. If you suspect you might be allergic to something in your hair care products, try switching to products that are fragrance-free, dye-free and contain only natural ingredients.

The Bottom Line

Dandruff is a common condition that can be embarrassing and difficult to treat. However, there are many natural ways to improve your dandruff. If you suffer from dandruff, try some of the natural remedies listed above. If your dandruff does not improve, or if it gets worse, you should see a doctor to rule out any underlying conditions

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This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical or other professional advice. Your specific circumstances should be discussed with a healthcare provider. All statements of opinion represent the writers' judgement at the time of publication and are subject to change. Phoenix and its affiliates provide no express or implied endorsements of third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products, or services.

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