How to Get Rid of Dandruff

Two Parts:Using Medicinal Treatments For DandruffUsing Natural Home Remedies for Dandruff

Dandruff is a commonly occurring condition of the scalp characterized by flaky skin. It has many causes, including excessively dry or oily skin, inflamed skin (dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis), fungal infection, and overuse or underuse of hair products (shampoo, hair spray, gel).[1] Dandruff isn't contagious and rarely leads to or signifies anything serious, but it's often embarrassing. Although the cause of dandruff is sometimes difficult to diagnose and cure, controlling the flakiness is much easier with special shampoos and certain home remedies.

Part 1
Using Medicinal Treatments For Dandruff

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    Use a zinc pyrithione shampoo. Zinc pyrithione is an antibacterial and anti`fungal agent, so it can reduce any bacterial or fungal infection on your scalp that may be causing your dandruff due to seborrheic dermatitis.[2] The Malassezia furfur fungi is thought to be partially responsible for dandruff in some people.[3] As such, buy some from your local grocery store or pharmacy and use it instead of your regular shampoo.
    • The most common cause of dandruff is seborrheic dermatitis (or seborrhea), which usually occurs on the scalp, ears, face and upper torso.[4] mid-chest, and mid-back.
    • Seborrhea produces itchy, reddish plaques on skin (scaling), which flakes off as dandruff.
    • Common zinc pyrithione shampoos include Head & Shoulders, Selsun Salon,Jason Dandruff Relief 2 in 1, and Neutrogena Daily Control Dandruff Shampoo.
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    Try a shampoo that contains coal tar. Coal tar slows down the rate of decay the skin cells on your scalp undergo — it essentially prevents skin cells from dying and forming scaly plaques.[5] Less plaque formation equates to less dandruff. The main downside to using shampoos with coal tar is they don't smell very good and cause painful irritation if you get some in your eyes.
    • Coal tar is actually a by-product from the process of manufacturing coal. It's considered effective for preventing dandruff caused by seborrheic dermatitis, eczema and psoriasis.
    • Remember that eczema is characterized by an itchy red rash, whereas psoriasis involves raised patches topped by silvery scales.
    • Commonly available shampoos that contain coal tar include Neutrogena T/Gel, Denorex Therapeutic Protection, and Scytera.
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    Consider selenium sulfide shampoos. Selenium sulfide is another compound that slows down the rate at which skin cells on your scalp die or "turn over", thereby reducing scaling and dandruff production. Although unlike coal tar, selenium sulfide is also an antifungal and thought to be able to combat malassezia fungi.[6] As such, selenium sulfide shampoos are a little more versatile because they can treat a wider range of causes. The main downside to using these types of anti-dandruff shampoos is that they can discolor blond, gray, or chemically colored hair.[7]
    • In order to reduce the potential for hair discoloration, only use these shampoos strictly as instructed — don't leave them on your scalp for too long and thoroughly rinse your hair with water.
    • Shampoos that contain selenium sulfide as an ingredient include Selsun Blue, Dandrex, and Head & Shoulders Clinical Strength.
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    Check out shampoos that contain salicylic acid instead. Salicylic acid (the main medicinal ingredient in aspirin) is also capable of reducing scale and eliminating dandruff because it can soften dead skin, exfoliate your scalp and reduce inflammation. The main downside to salicylic acid is that it can dry out your scalp if its overused, which can actually trigger more dandruff and become counterproductive.[8]
    • To minimize the drying out effect of salicylic acid, use a scalp conditioner after shampooing.
    • Commonly available shampoos that contain salicylic acid acid include Ionil T and Neutrogena T/Sal.
    • Some salicylic acid shampoos also contain sulfur, such as Sebex and Sebulex. Be aware that these brands have stronger odors and may leave your hair smelling unpleasant.
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    Experiment with shampoos containing ketoconazole if others fail. Ketoconazole is a powerful broad-spectrum antifungal agent that works well against most types of fungi and yeast. These types of shampoo are usually recommended or experimented with when the ones mentioned above are not effective — kind of a last resort treatment. They're available over-the-counter as well as by prescription, and tend to cost more than the other anti-dandruff shampoos.
    • Unlike most other anti-dandruff shampoos, products containing ketoconazole usually only need to be applied 2x per week at most.[9]
    • Commonly available shampoos that contain ketoconazole include Nizoral, Extina and Xolegel.
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    Talk to your doctor about prescription-strength shampoos and creams. While over-the-counter dandruff shampoos are usually effective, severe cases of dandruff may require a prescription-strength shampoo. Prescription shampoos don't contain any different ingredients than mentioned above, just a higher percentage, which makes them stronger. However, there's no scientific evidence that prescription anti-dandruff shampoos work better than common over-the-counter varieties.[10]
    • Ketoconazole is the compound most often used in prescription shampoos.
    • Your doctor can examine your scalp to determine the actual cause of your dandruff. You may need a referral to a skin specialist (dermatologist) for a diagnosis.
    • If your dandruff is caused by an inflammatory condition, such as psoriasis or eczema, your doctor may recommend and prescribe a lotion or cream containing a corticosteroid. Betamethasone is the most common steroid used for dandruff and is found in brands such as Bettamousse and Betnovate. These come in different strengths for different areas of your body (your scalp, for instance, can tolerate a higher strength steroid than the skin on your neck or face), so make sure you get the right one.

Part 2
Using Natural Home Remedies for Dandruff

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    Shampoo with tea tree oil. Tea tree oil is a centuries-old antiseptic, antibiotic and antifungal that's derived from the Australian tea tree.[11] If your dandruff is caused by any type of infection, than tea tree oil shampoos or other products may be very helpful. Scrub it into your scalp (being careful not to get it into your eyes), let the oil soak in for a few minutes, and then rinse well.
    • Tea tree oil has been known to cause allergic reactions in some people, so test it on yourself by rubbing a small amount onto the back of your hand. If your skin has no adverse reaction, you can proceed to use it on your scalp.
    • If tea tree oil proves too strong for you, try black or green tea instead (both are astringent and contain antioxidants). Boil dry tea leaves in water, strain, and let the tea cool before rinsing your scalp with it.
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    Consider other oil treatments. Dandruff that's caused by an excessively dry scalp can be remedied with the use of coconut oil, olive oil or baby oil. Once in the shower, massage the oil into your scalp and let it sit and soak in for five to 10 minutes. Then rinse with water and lightly shampoo to get rid of any greasiness. The oils will provide a moisturizing effect and make your hair softer. Coconut oil is also a good antimicrobial that can kill bacteria and fungi.[12]
    • Consider massaging in the oil and leaving it overnight while your sleep. Wearing a protective shower cap will hep protect your pillow from stains.
    • You should avoid these treatments if you suspect that your dandruff is related to an excessively oily scalp.
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    Condition your hair with natural yogurt. Plain yogurt without any added sugar is a good skin conditioner in general, so consider using it for your scalp if it feels itchy and/or inflamed.[13] The live bacteria in yogurt and its alkaline nature can improve the health of your scalp and help combat any irritation. It will also make your hair feel softer and fuller. Rub yogurt into your scalp after washing your hair. Let it sit for 10–15 minutes before rinsing and rewashing with a small amount of shampoo.
    • Avoid yogurts with added sugar, flavorings and fruit. Instead, buy Greek yogurt, which tends to be thicker and more natural.
    • Real Greek yogurt has friendly strains of bacteria called probiotics. Applying these probiotics to skin may help reduce redness, itchiness and irritation.
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    Spend some more time in the sun. Sunlight can be beneficial for dandruff because it can stimulated the production of vitamin D in the skin and ultraviolet (UV) light can kill microorganisms such as fungi and bacteria.[14] On the other hand, too much sun can lead to sunburn, which would eventually lead to more flakiness — so don't overdo it.
    • Start with spending a little more time outside each day without covering your head.[15]
    • Avoid sunbathing for too long because excessive amounts of UV radiation can damage your skin (scalp) and increase your risk of skin cancer.
    • While outside, you should wear sunscreen on your face and body to reduce the harmful effects of UV light.
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    Change your diet. Dry skin (scalp) can be caused by lack of certain dietary nutrients, such as B vitamins, zinc and healthy fatty acids[16] Dietary deficiency is increasingly more common in the United States and may be related to many different skin conditions and other diseases.
    • Foods with high levels of zinc include oysters, shellfish, red meat, poultry, eggs, pork, dairy products and most edible seeds.
    • Foods high in B vitamins include clams, oysters, mussels, liver, fish, beef, cheese and eggs.
    • Healthy fatty acids can be obtained from fish oils, flaxseed and many types of nuts.
    • In addition to vitamins and minerals, getting enough water is important too. Dry skin and flakiness is a common sign of dehydration. Aim for eight 8-ounce glasses of purified water each day.


  • Most dandruff shampoos can be used everyday or every second day, although stronger varieties may have different instructions so always read the label.
  • Make sure to keep the shampoo in your hair for as long as directed. Most manufacturers recommend at least five minutes before rinsing, but some (such as those that contain selenium sulfide) require less time.
  • After the anti-dandruff shampoo produces results, reduce your usage to 2-3 times per week until your dandruff is completely gone. Discontinue use and see if it comes back.
  • Use fewer styling products as hair gels, mousses and sprays can cause your scalp to become too dry or oily as they build up.
  • Other factors that may be related to dandruff include chronic stress, poor hygiene and weather conditions (too hot and humid or too cold and dry).

Article Info

Categories: Hair Loss and Scalp Conditions