How to Get Rid of Dandruff Fast

Four Methods:Dealing with Dandruff QuicklyReducing Dandruff Flakes within a DayUsing Dandruff ShampooControlling Dandruff Long-Term

Dandruff isn't usually as visible as the sufferer thinks it is, and a few quick precautions can make it much harder for other people to detect. Generally, dandruff will appear on the scalp and varies from a mild and patchy scaling to a thick, adherent crusts. Dandruff can be seen at any age, but it affects males predominantly throughout life. Medically speaking, dandruff is most often a result of seborrheic dermatitis that is isolated to the scalp. Seborrheic dermatitis, and specifically dandruff, results from a chronic and recurring rash that is superficial and isolated to the scalp.[1] There are some techniques and methods you can follow to help you get rid of this common condition.

Method 1
Dealing with Dandruff Quickly

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    Comb it out with dry shampoo. Dry shampoo can clean and moisturize your scalp when applied before you go out. It can be found in drugstores or online and comes in spray and powder form. To apply, spray your hair a few times or sprinkle a little on top of your scalp. Comb in the spray or powder, which will help comb out any dandruff flakes. Rinse your comb after each stroke.[2]
    • Talcum powder can be used instead, but it can make dark or black hair look grey, white, or dotted.
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    Cover the worst areas with your hairstyle. Find the region of your scalp with the most dandruff, and comb your hair so it covers this area. Hairstyling products may help you achieve this task, but fluffing up your hair into a tousled look can work as a quick improvement.[3]
    • Covering up the dandruff is not actually treating anything, and you should keep in mind that this is only a quick visual fix. The best way to get rid of dandruff is to actually use treatment methods that will affect the underlying causes.
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    Wear light colors. Select a shirt, dress, or other top with a white, grey, or metallic appearance. This will make white or yellow dandruff flakes much less noticeable.[4]
    • Textured or patterned clothing may help hide the dandruff as well.
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    Wear a hat or scarf. Any cap, hat, or scarf can be used to hide the dandruff on your scalp. As long as it's on, it will also minimize the number of dandruff flakes that fall onto your clothing. Plus, people will not be able to see any flakes that are stuck to your hair.
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    Carry a lint roller. Pocket a mini-lint roller before you head outside. Any time you see dandruff flakes on your clothing, make a trip to the bathroom and use the lint roller to pick them up off the fabric.
    • If you can't get your back, have a friend or loved one help you.[5]

Method 2
Reducing Dandruff Flakes within a Day

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    Apply warm mineral oil. Warm a small bowl of oil and massage it into your scalp.[6] The oil will help moisturize your scalp and reduce flaking. If you want to use a natural oil, 5% tea tree oil has been shown to help in studies. Pure olive oil and pure peanut oil are sometimes recommended instead, but their use is controversial since they may provide food for dandruff-causing fungus.[7]
    • Rumors about the harmful effects of mineral oil, such as it containing toxins or clogs your pores, are probably unfounded, as long as you use pure mineral oil sold as a skin care product. Products that make claims to relieve dandruff are tested by the FDA and would not be allowed to be on the market if they were harmful or contained toxins.[8][9][10]
    • Gently warm the oil. Do not heat it too hot to handle, especially not to smoking temperatures.
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    Leave the oil in for several hours. While this treatment may reduce dense dandruff faster than a single anti-dandruff shampoo application, it will be more effective if you leave the oil in for several hours. A shower cap may be handy to keep your hair clean during this time. [11]
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    Wash the oil off with shampoo or a mild detergent. Water alone will likely be ineffective at removing the oil. Instead, remove the oil with several applications of shampoo. If this is not enough to remove the oil, try leaving conditioner on your hair for 10 minutes, then rinsing out. A small amount of liquid dish soap can be used as a last resort, but it may damage or dry out your hair.
    • A tar-based shampoo may also work, and will also help remove additional dandruff, but many people find this substance unpleasant due to its smell and ability to stain.[12]
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    Use medications overnight. Many oil treatments and long-term care shampoos can also be effective at reducing dandruff if left in for eight hours, typically overnight. Look for an anti-dandruff shampoo that contains both coal tar and keratolytics. If it does not advertise keratolytics, or substances which dissolve dead skin cells, look for urea, salicylic acid, or sulfur in the ingredients list.
    • Find a well-fitting shower cap before you apply these, if you intend to sleep with them in your hair.[13]

Method 3
Using Dandruff Shampoo

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    Select an anti-dandruff shampoo for mild dandruff. There are many different substances that can treat dandruff. For mild dandruff without much inflammation or itching, look for shampoos containing salicylic acid or urea, which break apart dead skin cells. Because there is a chance of drying out the scalp and causing even more dandruff, it is recommended to use it in combination with a moisturizing conditioner to neutralize the side effect.[14][15]
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    Find a shampoo for severe dandruff. If your flakes are thick, white, and found on the scalp (either alone or in addition to the hair), your problem is likely caused by a species of yeast-like fungus called malassezia.[16] Malassezia is a skin surface yeast that has been targeted as a contributing cause of dandruff in people. This yeast may also have a role in affecting immune systems. For these more severe cases, find a shampoo that lists ketaconozole (at least 1% strength) or ciclopirox in its ingredients. Selenium sulfide (at least 1%) is also effective, but users often dislike the oils it causes to build up on their scalp.
    • A doctor can prescribe you stronger shampoos than are available over the counter, including 2% ketaconozole anti-fungal shampoo. This is most often prescribed as a foam/shampoo to be used twice a week for initial dandruff relief. After that, it is recommended to be used once a week or every other week.[17] You can also be prescribed a shampoo with 1% ciclopirox , which can be applied twice every week.[18][19]
    • If you have black, coarse hair, which may dry out excessively from daily shampoo application, consider a topical steroid ointment instead such as fluocinolone acetonide.[20] This can be applied as a pomade to dry hair.
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    Use the shampoo. To apply the shampoo, wet your hair, then massage the dandruff shampoo into your scalp. Let it sit in your hair for five to 10 minutes before rinsing it out. Use your anti-dandruff shampoo once a day, until the flaking, itching, and inflammation is less severe.
    • If you notice no improvement after a few days of using anti-dandruff shampoo, try a shampoo with a different ingredient. Since dandruff is often caused by a species of yeast, an antifungal shampoo may attack the problem from a different direction.[21]
    • Some people report success when alternating between two shampoos, using each one every other hair-washing session.[22][23]
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    Reduce shampooing frequency as condition improves. Once you notice a significant improvement, reduce anti-dandruff shampoo use to two to three times per week, or even less if you can keep your dandruff to an acceptable level. Once the severe flaking is removed, there is typically no need to continue applying every day.
    • If you are using prescription-strength shampoo, or more than one type of treatment, reduce frequency or stop use after two weeks, or harmful side effects may develop.[24]

Method 4
Controlling Dandruff Long-Term

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    Stop using hair care products. If the dandruff flakes are thin, translucent, and found only on the hair but not the scalp, they are likely a reaction to hair styling products. Look to see if your hair products contain Paraphenylenediamine, an ingredient that often causes dandruff issues. Also look for products with alcohol and harsh chemicals use in hair dye. These issues can also be caused by using too many products with separate ingredients.[25]
    • This type of scalp issue can be treated by eliminating or switching hair styling products and washing your hair more frequently.[26]
    • If you aren't sure which one is causing the issue, eliminate one at a time until you find the culprit.
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    Increase the frequency of shampooing. Seborrheic dermatitis, which is a condition that causes irritated, oily scalp skin, can be made worse by the oils from your hair and pores. Frequent shampooing will help to remove irritants and keep your scalp free of dandruff buildup.
    • Even a quick shampoo and rinse before going out can do wonders for your dandruff.
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    Get more sun. Exposing your scalp to moderate doses of sunlight may be helpful. The ultraviolet rays may be helpful in reducing the amount of flakes in your skin. However, increased exposure to the sun is harmful for your skin, so don't lay out in the sun or stay out in the sun for too long. Instead, apply sunscreen before you go out and just spend a little time getting some sun on your scalp.[27]
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    Discuss treatment with your doctor. If you are not satisfied with the level of dandruff you have after a few weeks of self-treatment, consult a doctor. Dandruff rarely causes physical problems, but if you would like to get rid of it for personal reasons, a doctor may prescribe stronger medication. He or she may also recommend additional steroid treatment to reduce inflammation and itching as well.
    • For severe cases, isotretinoin may be prescribed, but as this can have severe side effects, it is only recommended as a last resort.[28]


  • If medical dandruff treatments are not working, investigate folk remedies or treatments that use kitchen ingredients instead. These are unverified by scientific study, but some people report success using them. If your scalp becomes drier, itchier, or redder, stop the treatment immediately.
  • Always follow the instructions for prescription drugs. Using them too frequently or for too long can cause unpleasant side effects.

Sources and Citations

  1. Domino, F. (n.d.). The 5-minute clinical consult standard 2015 (23rd ed.)
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Article Info

Categories: Hair Loss and Scalp Conditions