In this article
The skin in the scalp is renewed all the time, as does the skin in general. The old outer skin cells dissolve as small, usually invisible, dry white mountains. It is only when the amount of skin flakes increases and they become visible as it is called dandruff. Dandruff can be difficult to get rid of, but by treatment, the symptoms usually decrease. Moisture does not cause the problem.
Dandruff causes and types of dandruff
Dandruff is a very common disorder in which the scalp is covered with abundant whitish desquamation. These small, dried and pergolas are nothing more than dead cell residues, the replacement of which is faster than normal. This excessive flaking, called dandruff, is often accompanied by itching and annoying ‘snow effect’, accentuated by hair comb and rubbing of the epidermis. Such operations, in fact, favor the detachment of the scales, making the problem particularly noticeable and in some ways embarrassing.
The good news is that, usually, dandruff can be effectively controlled. When the disorder is not too pronounced, daily scrubbing with shampoos or special lotions, with a certain fungicidal power and an effective, but non-irritating base for the epidermis are sufficient. Dandruff is a typical male problem; males, in fact, produce more sebum, probably due to the higher levels of androgens. Although with less frequency and intensity, the disorder is still spread also in women, too. Dandruff usually appears in early adulthood and tends to regress after 35-40 years. It is rare in children and the elderly.
On the genesis of this disorder, various hypotheses such as bad nutrition, stress, a natural tendency to dryness of the scalp, excessive sebum production or washing are too frequent or too low, with products not suitable for own features. Although some of these elements may actually contribute to dandruff accentuation, they are unlikely to represent the root cause. In many cases, in fact, the real culprit is a fungus, Malassezia furfur (also known as Pityrosporum), which lives on the scalp of most people without creating any discomfort. Problems occur as soon as the colonies become too numerous and, by feeding on the sebum that disintegrate in irritating fatty acids, accelerate the epidermal cell replacement.
The exact cause leading to unchecked proliferation of Pityrospum is not known; in this regard the old hypotheses listed in the beginning of the paragraph have been cleansed: increased sebum production, skin dryness, stress, some diseases, immune system weakness, excessive or insufficient number of lavage and hormonal imbalances (in particular the rise in androgen hormones or increased local sensitivity to their action).
Let’s now look at some of the classic factors that can trigger or accentuate the disorder:
- Dry skin: it is responsible for dry dandruff, characterized by dehydrated scales, fine and grayscale, accompanied by itching, but with no particular signs of skin irritation.
- Oily skin: it is responsible for the ‘greasy’ dandruff, characterized by thick, yellowish and oily scales, falling from just as fat as a scalp. It is caused by so-called seborrheic dermatitis, a condition that leads to the loss of scaly scales not only from the scalp, but also from other areas rich in sebaceous glands such as eyebrows, skin areas at the sides of the nose and behind the ears, inguinal area and, sometimes, axillary area.
- Psoriasis: it is a chronic, non-infectious skin inflammatory disease that affects about 1% of the population. It causes accumulation of dead skin cells, which form thick silver scales on skin areas covered with red spots and plaques. These events are mainly located at the knees, sacral regions, elbows, hands, feet and scalp where, especially in the most nervous subjects, cause intense and annoying itching.
- Contact dermatitis: It is due to a sensitization to particular substances such as those contained in certain products used for hair washing or hair care. It can accompany dandruff and itching.
- Milk crust: it is a disorder that occurs during the early months of the baby’s life.
It is unclear what causes dandruff. It may appear because the body responds to a kind of yeast fungus that is found everywhere on the skin of adults. If you have a large amount of fungi or are particularly sensitive to them, the skin may react with producing more skin flakes than normal. Dandruff is more common during adolescence and puberty.
Dandruff occurs regardless of whether you have dry or oily scalp. The dry type of dandruff easily dissolves and falls on the shoulders. The greasy type often sticks to the scalp. If you use strong hair remedies, such as jelly, mousse, solution fluid or spray containing alcohol, hair and scalp can dry out and dandruff problems get worse. If you have the dry type of dandruff, the trouble may also increase in winter when the air is drier. Warm hats and other headgear can also make fungi grow.
Dry dandruff: The skin of the scalp is dehydrated and the fine and whitish scales detach without any particular signs of skin irritation. Dry dandruff production increases during the winter and can increase further during periods of increased stress. Itching at the head is a symptom that manifests itself in a non-excessive form, but that causes the need to scratch. There is no hair loss, but the unhealthy effect is evident.
Greasy dandruff: The skin of the hair is greasy and produces thick and yellow scales that detach from the scalp. Often seborrhea accompanies the desquamation by making the hair greasy and the oily skin. With fat dandruff also shows a strong itchy head, with the risk of seborrheic dermatitis and hair loss.
To effectively combat both types of dandruff, it is necessary to distinguish between:
- Physiological dandruff;
- Occasional dandruff,
- Pathological dandruff;
Physiological dandruff is the corneal layer of the epidermis that is constantly dissected. In the epidermis the cells are born and develop through a series of layers to reach the more superficial: the stratum corneum. Due to external agents such as too dry air, scrubbing with aggressive shampoos, combing and brushing, the skin, at the level of the stratum corneum and within certain limits, naturally disappears by producing physiological dandruff. Physiological desquamation is unexpected and is not a cause of hair loss because the cornea particles that are detached are small and unimportant.
Occasional dandruff can be caused by the following external causes:
- Microorganisms (infections);
- Poor hygiene;
- Aggressive mechanical treatments.
The microorganisms responsible for occasional dandruff are Malasso’s oval Pityrosporum, also known as Malassezia, a parasitic fungus that nests in the epidermis corneum. The mycosis caused by the Pityrosporum of Malassez causes a lot of itching and abundant pityriasis. There are many types of Malassezia (furfur, restricta, obtusa, globoso) and some recent scientific studies have associated each type to a precise geographical area of our planet. In the United States and Japan, for example, the globose and restraint Malassezia are the most widespread. Other microorganisms nestling in dandruff, a source of nourishment ideal for them, are Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus albus and Coccus polimorfus of Cederkreutz. This bacterium creates an inflammation of the skin with the presence of a serum that is amalgamated with dandruff scales forming a kind of mud that can easily be exchanged for seborrhea.
Damaging hygienic treatments, responsible for many scalp problems and hair, are:
Too drying shampoo. Wash your hair with too alkaline shampoos and the use of very degreasing shampoos often causes depletion of the skin’s sebum, with the result that the epidermal layer, which is not properly protected, disfigures and produces dandruff;
Too much alcoholic lotions. Alcohol acts on keratin with a rather intense dehydrating and drying action. Application of very alcoholic hair lotions can lead to desquamation of the cornea layer causing dandruff;
Abuse of alkaline substances. These substances have keratolytic characteristics, that is, keratin disintegrators. Absorption of alkaline, reducing and oxidizing substances can lead to the production of dandruff scales;
Styling with overheated air. Too dry heat tends to dehydrate keratin and make it fragile, causing dandruff. This effect is made more intense if the stratum corneum has just been moisturized with washing.
Submitting the scalp to brushes, combs, etc., often leads to minor abrasive and escorial types that may result in localized skin inflammation followed by dizziness and dandruff. Through these lesions can penetrate pathogenic microorganisms (bacteria and michets), for which, in some cases, dandruff accompanies sebaceous hypersecretion so that the forearm scales stick to the sebum abundant on the scalp. This type of dandruff is called pitaroid steatoid.
Dandruff is a discomfort affecting the scalp, manifesting itself with a whitish desquamation that covers the head. Dandruff is caused by the increase in the cellular replacement of the skin. By dying and detaching, superficial epidermal layers form clear flakes, which can fall by creating the so-called ‘snow effect’. In addition to being responsible for mild or intense itching, dandruff is an extremely widespread blemish. In fact, getting off during hairbrushing, she puts on her clothes becoming very visible; for many, dandruff transmits a feeling of ‘poor hygiene’. It mainly affects males up to early adulthood; it rarely affects subjects over 35-40 years.
Dandruff can be cured or kept under control in a fairly effective way. The first step is to understand what the trigger is.
Usually, dandruff is caused by:
- Over-growth of a fungus called Malassezia furfur (Pityrospum); in most subjects this infection is totally asymptomatic, but sometimes it may become worse and produce dandruff.
- The microorganism feeds on sebum and hydrolyses it by producing irritating fatty acids, responsible for accelerated cell replacement. The most suitable solution is to use specific antifungal shampoos.
- The excess of sebum is a very important predisposition factor. It can be caused by:
- A significant androgen hormonal flux: when it comes to an adolescent condition it can spontaneously resolve, but sometimes it depends on primary hormonal disorders.
- An excessive local sensitivity to androgens: there are specific pharmacological treatments to reduce the sensitivity to androgens, but mainly concern the hair follicle. These solutions are used solely as a remedy for baldness and paradoxically, instead of reducing it, sometimes they seem to increase dandruff after application.
Other predisposing factors are:
Weakness of the immune system: It is evident when there are several close infections (eg acne of the cold larynx). If the immune system is compromised due to serious illnesses (eg HIV or EBV) or intensive therapies (e.g. chemotherapy), dandruff is certainly a marginal problem. On the contrary, if the immune system is damaged by: stress, environmental factors, diet, etc., by acting on the diet you can bring significant benefits.
Inadequate nutrition: Many complain of excess dandruff during periods of poor nutrition. However, it is only a hypothesis and does not seem to be supported by any concrete scientific evidence. Some foods may have a protective function, but others are more likely to have a negative effect.
Nervous stress: If dandruff occurs in very stressful times it is obvious that the cure is made up of psycho-physical rest.
Using irritating or moisturizing cosmetics for hair: low-grade gel, lacquer and mousse are often involved in irritation or increased sebum. Just suspend them or replace them with better products.
Seborrheic dandruff and dermatitis
It is possible to eliminate pathological dandruff and occasional dandruff through appropriate thermo treatments, after examining the hair. It is good to know that the total solution results obtainable for occasional dandruff can never be reached in pathological dandruff; for the latter there are no definitive remedies, so it is true that people affected by it should have their hair checked every six months.
Seborrheic scalp dermatitis is an inflammation characterized by small scaly formations spread on the scalp, behind the ears and inside the auditory canal. Sometimes the eyebrows and hairs on the chest are also infested.
Greasy scales are the result of an accelerated proliferation and replacement of the skin cells, combined with sebaceous hypersecretion. Removing the scales you can notice that the skin beneath them is reddish and damp.
Dandruff or pityriasis, in its most serious forms, is a condition hardly distinguishable from seborrheic dermatitis, so that it can be confused with one another at a first superficial diagnosis. The main difference is that in seborrheic dermatitis, inflammation of the skin is far more important than in pathological dandruff.
Dandruff and hair loss
In some cases dandruff causes hair loss and prevents the normal cycle of regrowth. This occurs when dandruff favors the onset of infections caused by various types of microbes that cause itch, triggering a perverse cycle of itching, scratching, resulting in superficial injuries and more and more serious infections.
We talk about pathological dandruff when skin detachment is evident and bleeding becomes abnormal.
The causes of dry dandruff and greasy pathological dandruff are varied and generally related to phenomena such as:
- Liver insufficiency (liver disorders);
- Eating disorders, such as bulimia;
- Circulatory disorders (lymphatic and blood circulation);
- Vitamin insufficiency (avitaminosis: lack of vitamins, hypovitaminosis: deficiencies in vitamins, hypervitaminosis: excess vitamins, dysvitaminosis: poor use of vitamins by the body).
Pathological dandruff and auto-intoxication
Auto-intoxication is a general or local auto-poisoning caused by the inability of the body to eliminate toxins and / or organic waste. These pathogenic microorganisms accumulate on the skin and cause an intoxication that damages the structure of keratin proteins, which are hardened, coagulated and dehydrated, and then quickly disposed of in the form of desquamation of the skin, that is, dandruff.
Auto-intoxication causes contractions that modify the normal secretions of the skin’s glands, causing abnormal production of sebum and sweat containing an abnormal amount of urea. The presence of this substance compromises the self-sterilizing effect of the skin and allows the onset of chronic infections that alter the health of the skin and cause dandruff.
Auto-intoxication phenomena can lead to skin dehydration due to lack of fixation of mineral salts in the scalp cells. This phenomenon leads to an abnormal nutritional intake of the epidermis and a strong tendency to skin discoloration that generates dry dandruff and annoying itching to the head.
These triggering factors are almost always accompanied by a specific symptom: subcutaneous inflammation. Studies show that inflammatory processes around inflammatory processes in the scalp of dandruff are found around the blood vessels under the epidermis. Cells, probably stimulated by the presence of pathogenic microorganisms, release substances useful in defending the skin from infection, which, however, cause an alteration in cellular replacement. Due to inflammation, the cells desiccate in such a large quantity that they form voluminous chips. The magnitude of the production of these scales, dandruff or pityriasis would therefore depend on the severity of the inflammatory outbreaks present. Inflammation of the skin often causes a painful sensation in the scalp that represents the signal of a possible early hair fall.
The main causes of pathological dandruff have to do with the alteration of the hydro-lipid-protein biological complex and are:
- Hyperhidrosis: excessively hydrated scalp;
- Dishydrous: insufficiently hydrated scalp;
- Seborrhea: excess sebum;
- Asteatosis: insufficient sebum;
- Hypertrophy: many protein substances;
- Atrophy: few protein substances.
The water balance in surface tissues is given by sweating (perspiration). In the presence of excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis) and as a result of particular skin disorders, such as psoriasis, eczema and acne, there is a change in the alkaline pH of the hair’s skin resulting in dandruff formation.
It is well known that the skin, by means of the sweat glands and superficial vessels, also performs the function of thermoregulation (regulation of body heat). In the face of a defect of sweating (dishydrous) and therefore of hydration, the hair becomes dry, dry and fragile, resulting in desquamation and production of dry dandruff.
Dandruff and shampooing
If the skin flakes are barely visible, it’s probably just a sign of dry scalp. Then you can try a mild shampoo that is especially intended for dry and sensitive scalp. If the flakes are larger and you suspect it’s dull, but the trouble is not that big, you can wash your hair and scalp with a mild dandruff shampoo for a period of time. If it does not help you can use special shampoo that contains the selenium. Different kinds of dandruff shampoo are found in pharmacies as well as in regular food stores.
If the shampoo doesn’t work, try something else. Everyone’s scalp is different and different reactions can be triggered by the same shampoo. To avoid unnecessary irritation of the scalp, make sure to solder the shampoo in the palm of your hand before washing and rinse your hair for a long time.
If you have trouble with a lot of dandruff and perhaps coatings in the scalp, try a shampoo that removes the skin fungus that may have caused the dandruff. Shampoo contains the active substance ketoconazole, which is effective against yeast fungi. You should treat your hair and scalp twice a week for two to four weeks, and then once a week or when needed. Shampoo with ketoconazole can be purchased without a prescription at the pharmacy.
If you have not been helped by regular shampoos containing ketoconazole, contact your healthcare center. You may have a spleen or other skin disease, such as psoriasis, which requires other treatment. Except for rare cases when it occurs temporarily and then disappears, for example following a stressful period or eating disorders, dandruff is a chronic disorder that can be controlled by using certain products with some perseverance.
Anti-dandruff products differ according to the active ingredient they contain, including:
Zinc pyrone: This antibacterial and antifungal agent has been shown to be effective in reducing the foreboding microbial population on the scalp.
Tar: Slowing down the cell replacement rate, coal tar can be useful in the treatment of dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis. However, in addition to the odor that is usually unpleasant, it may be irritating.
Selenium sulphate: Similarly to what has been seen in the previous case, using shampoos and lotions containing this active ingredient, it is necessary to reduce the surface replacement rate of the skin’s superficial layer. Selenium sulphate also has a modest fungicidal action. Since these products can discolor lighter or colored hair, it is important to follow the labeling instructions and rinse abundantly after use.
Ketoconazole: is one of the last and most effective active ingredients used in the treatment of dandruff. Ketoconazole is, in fact, a broad spectrum antifungal agent, which can be effective when all other products have failed.
Herbal products: Chillies, apple vinegar and essential oils of eucalyptus, rosemary, lemon, sage and nettle are very useful. Tea tree oil (or essential oil of Melaleuca alternifolia), used for its antiseptic and antifungal properties, is also widely known. It works effectively against dandruff but can cause allergic reactions in predetermined individuals. Let’s have a closer look at those natural dandruff remedies and the mode of their application.
Dandruff and malassezia furfur
Malassezia furfur is a yeast type bacteria normally found on the skin surface of most healthy people. However, on some occasions, this microorganism acts as an opportunistic pathogen, and can therefore result in localized and / or systemic infections.
The presence of Malassezia furfur is considered important in the aetiology of various skin diseases and associated structures, such as seborrhoeic dermatitis and versicolor pityrase. Other pathological events associated with excessive proliferation of this yeast include allergic reactions, psoriasis, folliculitis, onicomycosis, dandruff and some forms of atopic dermatitis.
Malassezia furfur can proliferate on the skin surface thanks to a peculiarity: these yeasts are fed with the fatty acids present in the sebum and those resulting from the decomposition of the skin cells; for this reason, they are considered real ‘commensals’.
In some susceptible individuals, infection by this microorganism can cause skin changes – such as squamous cuts, itching and redness – which, although localized, can be extremely annoying. In addition, Malassezia furfur may release substances that may modify normal pigmentation of the skin, producing the appearance of naked or brittle black spots. Generally, the treatment of pathological conditions associated with infection involves the use of antimycotic drugs, to be applied locally to the skin or to be taken orally, according to the most appropriate regime indicated by the physician.
Malassezia furfur is a fungus (more specifically, a yeast) that can be found as part of the normal skin flora of most healthy adults (90%). As a skin saprophyte, this microorganism is usually harmless, however, when certain conditions favor its proliferation, it can act as an opportunistic pathogen.
The colonization of the skin by these yeasts begins in the first three to six months of life and increases in the period when the sebaceous glands become active. The concentration of Malassezia furfur increases, in fact, directly proportional to the concentration of skin lipids, presenting a peak in late adolescence and early adulthood. This microorganism can be most commonly found in the chest, shoulders, arms, and scalp. Malassezia furfur mainly colonizes the skin surface of people of Caucasian origin.
Malassezia furfur usually has a spherical shape with a bottleneck end; the dimensions are about 1.5-4.5 micron in width and 2-6 micron in length. These yeasts are generally unicellular, but they can form long cylindrical filaments) when they become pathogens. Malassezia furfur seen at the scanning electron microscope to survive, Malassezia furfur requires natural oils and long-chain and medium chain fatty acids on the surface of human skin (such as oleic acid, peanut, stearic and palmitic acid).
Yeast finds the best situation for its development in a high fat environment (as lipophilic and lipid-dependent), especially in the summer, when higher temperatures and high humidity rates favor sweating and increase of sebaceous secretions. The proliferation of Malassezia furfur may also be due to an alteration of sebum production or excessive moisture in certain body areas, which is secondary to the habit of wearing unbreathable clothing.
Other risk factors include immunodepression states, corticosteroid therapy, malnutrition, diabetes, and other concomitant pathologies. Finally, the excessive proliferation of Malassezia furfur may depend on a personal predisposition (e.g. subjects with a tendency to seborrhea).
Malassezia furfur is considered to be the etiologic agent of various dermatological disorders, including versicolor pitaryas and seborrheic dermatitis. Yeast seems to be implicated in the pathogenesis of psoriasis, folliculitis, dandruff and some forms of atopic dermatitis.
Malassezia furfur is a fungus known mainly for its pathogenic role in versicolor pitiriasis. This skin infection is manifested by the appearance of flat irregular spots and discolorations (hypo- or hyperpigmented, with a color that varies from white to brown); the predominantly involved venues are neck, trunk, abdomen, shoulders, arms, and face.
The versicolor pitaryase lesions may be associated with itching, scurrying and irritation. Disease risk factors include increased sebaceous secretion, immunosuppression, and the combination of warmth-humidity. The diagnosis is based on the clinical appearance of the lesions and the examination of skin scarifications. Treatment of versicolor pyripyras involves the use of topical antimycotic drugs (in the presence of localized infection) or systemic (in the case of extensive illness or frequent recurrences).
Seborrheic dermatitis is a skin inflammation due to a too rapid multiplication of skin cells, associated with a high activity of sebaceous glands. The disorder is common especially in male subjects of 30-40 years of age.
The available scientific evidence suggests that Malassezia furfur may favor seborrheic dermatitis, in combination with other host factors. The latter include genetic predisposition, changes in the amount and composition of sebum, stress and increased skin abnormality (due to sweating). Patients with neurological disorders (such as Parkinson’s disease) and those with AIDS are affected most frequently.
Among the clinical manifestations of this disease are erythema with itching and desquamation, especially in areas rich in sebaceous glands (scalp, face, eyebrows, ears and upper part of the trunk). The skin becomes covered with dry or yellowish scaly (dandruff) scales; in the most severe cases, red-yellow papules appear in the hair insertion.
The diagnosis is performed by the dermatologist with the objective examination. As far as treatment is concerned, the use of topical imidazole is generally indicated. Cortisins may also be prescribed if necessary.
Malassezia furfur can cause pruriginal eruption characterized by papules and pustules at hair follicles, often after exposure to the sun. These lesions are mainly located at the back, chest and arms level. Biopsy of the scars or samples show the occlusion of the hair follicles involved in the infectious process. Most cases respond well to topical treatment with imidazole; however, patients with extensive lesions often require oral treatment with ketoconazole or itraconazole.
Malassezia furfur can be a cause of onychomycosis, a nail infection that causes alterations such as fragility, fissures, and opaque white patches. However, this pathology is most likely caused by other mushroom species, including Candida albicans.
Malassezia furfur can colonize the scalp thanks to the fat contained in the sebum. In the presence of increased sebaceous secretion, this microorganism proliferates and produces some inflammatory metabolites that cause inflammation. In the most severe cases, in addition to dandruff, itching and redness of the scalp may occur.
Other skin diseases caused or aggravated by Malassezia furfur infection include: Gougerot-Carteaud’s confluent and reticulated papillomatosis: pigmented eruption that occurs mainly on the chest, back and neck of teenage girls; pediatric neonatal cephalic: Dermatitis that occurs in the early days of life, characterized by the appearance of a pustular eruption on the face or scalp, similar to acne.
In addition to skin diseases, Malassezia furfur can be implicated in a broad spectrum of other clinical manifestations including:
- Allergies. Some Malassezia furfur metabolism products can cause allergic reactions. Potential allergens include Mala f2 and Mala f3 (peroxisome membrane proteins) and Mala f4 (mitochondrial malignant dehydrogenase). In this case, specific IgE antibodies directed against the Malassezia and Prick positive microorganism test can be detected.
- Fungemia. In immunodexpressed patients, Malassezia furfur infection can result in localized and / or systemic mycoses following the spread of the microorganism in the bloodstream, with the potential for development of pneumonia and peritonitis. Yeasts can become opportunistic pathogens, especially in debilitated infants and adults who receive infusions via central venous catheters or are subjected to total parenteral nutrition or lipid solutions. High temperature and humidity can facilitate the colonization of the percutaneous catheter insertion site. More rarely, Malassezia furfur yeast has been found in septic, mastitis, sinusitis, tear tube obstruction and urinary tract infections.
The diagnosis of skin infection by Malassezia furfur is based on the clinical aspect of surface lesions and the histological or cytological examination of a tissue sample. Examination of the areas involved, with ultraviolet Wood lamp, highlights a clear golden fluorescence emitted by the fungal colonies.
The identification of Malassezia furfur can be confirmed by direct observation of the pathogen microscope and the positivity of laboratory cultures. The material to be examined is skin rupture samples (in the presence of surface lesions) or blood (in the case of suspected fungemia).
The in vitro growth of the microorganism provides specific supports and must be stimulated by natural oils or other fatty substances. The feedback can be supported by the application of molecular techniques. Direct observation of Malassezia furfur microscope uses fresh potassium hydroxide preparations (KOH), which allow to highlight the presence of yeast cells and long filaments.
Treatment of Malassezia furfur infection depends on clinical manifestations and generally involves the use of the most appropriate antifungal medicines to be applied on the skin or to be taken orally, according to the dermatologist’s recommendations. Your doctor may also prescribe a prophylactic therapeutic regimen with a topical agent to prevent recurrences. In order to avoid relapse, it is important to observe accurately hygiene and to choose garments made with natural (non-synthetic) fabrics.
A Complete guide to natural dandruff remedies
Good practices to prevent and fight dandruff are:
- Washing your hair every day helps to fight dry dandruff by avoiding additional build up of sebum on the skin;
- In the case of greasy dandruff, instead, avoid too frequent and prolonged washings of the scalp, so as not to stimulate excess sebum production;
- Take care of your nutrition. Ensure the intake of sulphur, omega-3, antioxidants and B group vitamins in fruits, vegetables, lean meat and fish;
- Reduce the use of cosmetics. Gels, hairsprays and mousses may be irritating to the scalp, making it weaker and increasing the itch associated with dandruff. This statement is the more truthful the more economical the product being used.
To act internally and to counter dandruff, it is important to eat healthy in the first place. This means consuming so much fruit and vegetables, rich in vitamins, and avoid fatty foods such as lean and fatty cheeses. Improving lifestyle in general, trying to reduce stress, is also important.
It is better for these to prefer organic foods and products, use natural honey and sweeteners instead of refined sugars, choose fresh and unpackaged products, full of hydrogenated fats. You also need to limit the consumption of alcohol and coffee, preferring green tea, rich in natural antioxidants, which is good for counteracting it.
Another advice is to take iron-rich foods, such as dried fruits (plums, peanuts, hazelnuts, figs and almonds) and legumes (beans and lentils are among the richest iron).
Natural products can be also applied externally. Among these the most effective are rosemary and Malaysian oil, but also flaxseed, green clay, beetroot, nettle. Useful phytotherapeutic products for the treatment of dandruff contain generally extracts of bardana and sage.
From a cosmetic point of view, it is advisable to also clean hair daily using a delicate shampoo that removes excess sebum and dead cells by improving the dandruff problem. In addition to shampoo, you can use hair lotions on dry or wet hair every other day. Among the most effective essential oils to fight dandruff, we find the essential oil of Tea tree, with fungicidal and antibacterial properties, and essential oils of eucalyptus, lemon and sage, disinfectants and astringents.
Here is some practical advice, just try to find out what is the natural remedy best suited to every single case.
1. Pre-shampoo lotion oil with tea tree oil
Ingredients: 30 ml castor oil, 30ml hyperic oil, 30 drops of tee tree essential oil, 20 drops of essential lavender oil. Mix the ingredients and leave them in a glass bottle. Spread on the skin and rub before shampoo once a week.
2. Pre-shampoo tea tree oil and rosemary
Ingredients: Tea tree essential oil, essential rosemary oil, jojoba oil. Preparation: Pour two drops of tea tree oil, two rosemary into a spoonful of jojoba pure oil. Rub for a long time, trying to come with the oil at the root of the hair, let it run for twenty minutes, then proceed with the shampoo. Repeat the operation once a week for at least one month.
3. Green clay and flaxseed oil pre-shampoo lotion
Ingredients: green clay 1 cup, 2 drops lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of flaxseed oil. Preparation: Oil can be obtained by boiling the seeds and allowing them to rest for a couple of hours before using it, or you can buy it ready. Add this to a cup of clay and lemon. Mix with a wooden spoon, add water, until a smooth and homogeneous mixture is obtained. Distribute on the scalp and let it work before the usual shampoo for about twenty minutes.
4. Salt and rosemary powder
Ingredients: Dried needles of rosemary, fine salt. Preparation: Mix in equal parts the powder obtained by shaking the needles with the salt up. Rinse the scalp twice or three times a week with the obtained powder. Rinse and shampoo.
5. Rinse after shampoo
Decoction of walnut leaves, darkens hair and fights dandruff and fall. So how to rinse your hair with decoction of sage leaves or beetroot.
6. After-shampoo laurel lotion
Ingredients: 1 glass of white vinegar or apple, 1 handful of nettle leaves. Preparation: Boil it all in a basin, adding a glass of water. Filter and after shampoo rubbing the hair roots. Wait five minutes and then pour the remaining liquid over the scalp.
7. Neem oil to fight dandruff
Thanks to the high percentage of oleic acid, stearic and palmitic acid, neem oil can integrate the lipid layer of the epidermis, hindering skin microevaporation, one of the causes of dry dandruff phenomena. Neem oil also has nutritional, emollient and softening properties, thanks to its high content of oleic acid, which helps to improve the elasticity and softness of the skin, limiting its flaking. Neem oil is therefore very moisturizing and is effective in fighting skin dryness, repairing damaged skin and restoring its natural elasticity.
Its antibacterial, antimycotic and anti-inflammatory properties make it suitable for hair care in the case of dandruff due to fungi, also associated with itching or redness since it helps to soothe and resolve the problem. Neem oil can be used pure but because of its rather strong odor, it is often diluted in other vegetable oils and can be supplemented with essential oils, including tea tree, particularly suitable for dandruff.
Neem oil is a very dense oil that tends to solidify at temperatures below 25 ° C, has a dark green color and a very strong and distinctive smell. Neem oil is stored at room temperature away from sources of light and heat. Although it is a stable oil that does not detach itself quickly, it is advisable to keep it at temperatures below 60 ° C to keep its properties intact.
8. Tea tree oil
Tea tree essential oil is considered as the most versatile among essential oils. As for dandruff, it is used in the formulation of eco-biological shampoos suitable for solving this problem. Tea tree essential oil is considered to be particularly effective in dry dandruff and is considered to be able to heal the scalp. You can try to test its effectiveness by diluting two drops of the amount of shampoo normally used at the time of hair washing. Essential oils are very powerful concentrated natural extracts and for this reason they must be used with care and in small quantities. Their use is not recommended in the presence of injuries and severe skin lesions.
9. Apple Cider
One of the home remedies that can be used against dandruff is represented by white wine vinegar or apple vinegar. Apple cider vinegar is strong, so mix it with water before use. Equally large portions of each component are usually good. Alternatively, a few drops of vinegar can be diluted in lukewarm water and used to massage the scalp before the shampoo. It is also possible to make a wrap in the same way that it is allowed to act overnight, simply wrap your head in a warm towel before going to sleep after rubbing the vinegar solution into the scalp. Gently pour the solution over the scalp and let it last for at least 15 minutes before washing clean with a shampoo. The high pH of the vinegar owner inhibits the growth of the yeast fungus which may be the cause of dandruff.
Crush a couple of aspirin tablets and mix them with water for a paste as you bathe over the scalp. Alternatively, mix your regular shampoo with the crushed pills. Aspirin contains salicylic acid, which is the active ingredient in most prescription dandruff. It helps to stop the peeling.
11. Coconut oil – natural remedy for dandruff
Massage the scalp with a small click of coconut oil and allow it to sit for at least 15-20 minutes. The longer the better, so you can even sleep with the oil, under a towel or shower cap. Coconut oil, like apple cider vinegar, contributes to reducing the kind of yeast fungi that can cause dandruff. However, it is quite greasy, so be prepared for a few rinses before the hair is clean.
12. Aloe vera gel
Lubricate the scalp with a small click of aloe vera gel to get rid of some of the symptoms. Unlike other house cures, aloe is not the essence of the basic problem, that is, the yeast fungus. On the contrary, it suppresses inflammation that can occur as a result of dandruff, as well as relieves irritating itching. To prevent the formation of dandruff and to counter the itching it caused, if it is already present, it is advisable to try to pamper the scalp by massaging on it small amounts of aloe vera gel before shampooing, allowing him to act as much as possible. The application of the aloe gel can also help calm the itching suddenly appeared at a point of the scalp, thanks to a rapid and immediate application.
13. Linseed oil
Another natural remedy considered effective to combat dandruff is the flaxseed oil. Its constant use, in a few drops, to be massaged on the scalp before the shampoo, can help alleviate and gradually diminish the problem of dandruff. Flaxseed oil can be purchased in organic grocery stores and is usually placed in the fridge counter so that its properties remain unaltered.
14. Olive oil and lemon juice
To try to fight dandruff naturally, you can try using a homemade pasta prepared using olive oil and lemon juice. Lemon juice helps to release the scalp from dried dessert scales, while olive oil contributes to its hydration and nutrition. The wrap should be applied to the scalp before the shampoo and should be left for 30 minutes. For its preparation, it is sufficient to mix 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil and two tablespoons of water.
15. Thyme decoction
A simple thyme based mixture can also help reduce dandruff appearance. Pour two well-spooned teaspoon of dried thyme with two glasses of warm water and boil for 10 minutes. Strain the brew and wait until it has cooled down to room temperature. Wash your hair with shampoo, rinse and apply half of the thyme to the damp hair. Massage the decoction into the scalp. Do not rinse it. Keep the remaining portion of the decoction in the refrigerator for the next use. Repeat the procedure twice a week.
16. Sandal wood decoction
Another homemade way to dandruff is to mix the sandalwood essential oil with lemon juice in a ratio of 1:3 and apply the resulting mixture to the scalp.
17. Ventilated green clay
Ventilated green clay, available at your local herbalist’s, can be used to make an anti-dandruff to apply on the hair and leave to act for 30 minutes before going to the shampoo. This is a suitable wrap especially for dandruff accompanied by fat hair. Those with dry hair can think of replacing the green clay with white clay. It is advisable to massage the scalp with a piece of the pack before completing the application. It can be prepared by mixing the clay with equal amounts of water. For example, four tablespoons of clay will match four spoons of water. You need to mix the two ingredients until you get a creamy compound to make it easier to apply.
This herb is commonly called henna, but has nothing to do with the botanical point of view with henna (Lawsonia inermis) used to tint the hair copper. Henna tree, obtained from Cassia italica or Cassia obovata, is a powder without coloring principles but rich in beneficial hair properties. A moisturized water and neutral honeycomb helps to counter dandruff and works as a reconstitute for hairy hair. It is necessary to proceed by mixing the henna powder with warm water until a creamy compound is applied to wet or dry hair, massaging the scalp and leaving it to act for an hour before the shampooing.
An intravenous infusion can be prepared to obtain a hair lotion on the scalp to curb the appearance of dandruff. Its preparation is very simple. Infuse 250 ml of boiling water into a teaspoon of dried nettle flowers for 10-15 minutes. The infusion should be filtered and allowed to cool before being applied to the skin. For this purpose, it may be useful to transfer it to a spray container.
A lotion suitable for combating dandruff can be prepared from beets. Beetroot is considered a formidable natural remedy against dandruff. In this regard, it is possible to boil flowers and roots of beet in water. The decoction should then be filtered and let cool before being applied to the scalp, massaging it gently before passing to the shampooing.
21. Flaxseed Gel
A slurry suitable for combating dandruff can be prepared using the flax seeds. You need a pack containing 50 grams of flax seed in 250 ml of water all night. Subsequently, with their liquid, they will be brought to boiling in a pot until the formation of a gelatinous substance. Flaxseed gel should then be filtered and used as an anti-foam wrap, massaging it on the scalp and allowing it to act for at least 30 minutes before the shampooing.
If dandruff does not improve over a period of one to two months, it is advisable to seek an opinion from the dermatologist who will investigate the causes and prescribe the use of active substances shampoo and lotions that have an effect on excessive production of sebum and with antimycotic action, such as sulphur selenium, zinc pyrite and ketoconazole.
In order to avoid the appearance of dandruff, leading experts on scalp health recommend avoiding the following practices: using an inadequate shampoo to clean your scalp (oily or dry skin), washing your hair badly, too often or with too little frequency, ignoring any excessive proliferation of Malassezia furfur, not curing seborrheic dermatitis and psoriasis, ignoring any forms of contact dermatitis. At the same time, you should not underestimate the problems with the immune system, neglect healthy nutrition, give in to nervous stress and not trying to reduce it. Do not use irritating or oily hair cosmetics.
How to get rid of dandruff with what you eat
Before listing which foods could be recommended to fight dandruff, let us briefly describe the composition of human sebum: glycerides (57%), waxy esters (25%), squalene (15%), cholesterol esters (2%) and cholesterol (1%). There are also significant concentrations of antioxidants such as: vitamin E and coenzyme Q10.
As can be seen, fatty acids (contained in glycerides, especially saphenic acid) play a crucial role. These show different ramifications from individual to individual, as is the relationship between them different. It is unclear how much nutrition can affect the composition of sebum, although the lack of essential fatty acids and antioxidants could have a major impact. Certainly, at least in part, predisposition to dandruff has a genetic-hereditary basis.
The general food advice pieces are:
- Foods rich in omega 3 and omega 6 polyunsaturated fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid (EPA and DHA): very biologically active, are mainly found in fish products and algae. The foods that contain the most are: sardine, mackerel, palamite, strawberry, herring, lentil, apricot tuna, aguglia, algae, krill etc.
- Alpha linolenic acid (ALA): compared to the previous ones it is biologically less active. It has the same function as EPA and DHA. It is mainly contained in the fat fraction of certain foods of vegetable origin or in oils of: soy, flaxseed, kiwi seeds, grape seeds and so on.
- Linoleic acid (LA): it is rich in sunflower seeds, wheat germ, sesame, almost all dried fruit, corn germ and its oils. The derivatives are:
- Linoleic Gamma Acid (GLA) and Linoleic Diomogam (DGLA): it is rich in borage oil.
- Arachidonic Acid (AA): Peanuts and other dried fruits are rich.
Foods rich in antioxidants:
- Vitamins: Antioxidant vitamins are carotenoids (provitamin A), vitamin C and vitamin E.
- Carotenoids are contained in red or orange fruits (apricots, peppers, melons, peaches, carrots, pumpkin, tomatoes, etc.); Are also present in crustaceans and milk. Vitamin C is typical of acidic fruit and some vegetables (lemons, oranges, mandarins, grapefruit, kiwi, peppers, parsley, chicory, lettuce, tomatoes, cabbage, etc.). Vitamin E is available in the lipid portion of many seeds and related oils (grain germ, corn germ, sesame, kiwi, grape seed, etc.).
- Minerals: zinc and selenium. The former is mainly contained in: liver, meat, milk and derivatives, some bivalve molluscs (especially oysters). The second is mainly contained in: meat, fish products, egg yolk, milk and derivatives, enriched foods (potatoes, etc.).
- Polyphenols: Simple phenols, flavonoids, tannins. There are plenty of vegetables (onions, garlic, citrus fruits, cherries, etc.), fruits and seeds (pomegranate, grapes, berries etc.), wine, oilseeds, coffee, tea, cocoa, legumes and whole grains.
- In case of milk crust associated with diarrhea and gastric colic: eliminate foods potentially responsible for food intolerances or allergies; some of those are lactose and milk proteins.
In the case of a compromised immune system (in addition to antioxidants), it is strongly recommended to emphasize the contribution of:
- Vitamin C or Ascorbic Acid: it is especially contained in fresh vegetables and fruits, preferably acidic: peppers, citrus, parsley, kiwi, lettuce, apple, chicory and so on.
- Vitamin D or calcium: it is mainly contained in: fish, fish oil and egg yolk.
- Probiotics: They are physiological bowel bacteria, also contained in fermented foods such as yogurt, tofu, tempeh, maize etc.
The foods from the following list should be avoided at all times:
- Foods rich in ‘bad fats’: especially in fast food and other junk foods. As anticipated, many people say they notice an increase in dandruff in disordered and unhealthy eating times.
- Hydrogenous greases (especially rich in trans-chains): hydrogenated oils, margarine, sweet snacks, salty snacks, baked goods etc.
- Saturated and broken fat: fatty cheese, cream, fresh meat cuts, sausages and salami, burgers, wurstel, palm butter and palm oil, etc.
- Foods potentially responsible for food intolerances or allergies: some of those are lactose and milk proteins (especially in case of milk crust associated with diarrhea and gastric colic).
Natural cures and remedies for dandruff
Among herbal and phyto products, those are mainly vegetable extracts for topical use: pepper extract, apple vinegar, eucalyptus essential oil, rosemary essential oil, lemon essential oil, nuts essential oil, sage essential oil. Also pay attention to essential oil of Melaleuca alternafolia: it is antiseptic and antifungal.
Those used against dandruff are not real drugs, but specific products (shampoos and lotions) that contain therapeutic molecules.
They differ according to the active ingredient:
- Zinc Pyrite: Reduces Malassezia furfur population.
- Catheys: Slows down cell turnover rate and is useful against seborrheic dermatitis. It may be irritating.
- Selenium sulphate: Slows down cell turnover rate and is also effective against Malassezia furfur. NB. It is recommended that you read the label and rinse abundantly after use. Some products can discolor dyed hair.
- Ketoconazole: It is a broad-spectrum antifungal and can be effective where others fail.
If shampoos and lotions turn out to be ineffective, dandruff could be the clinical sign of a major discomfort. At that point, under certain prescriptions, some dermatologists also administer corticosteroids.
Prevention of dandruff
In addition to what is mentioned, we list some factors that can help prevent it:
- Reduce physical psychic stress.
- Wash your hair frequently, but with a shampoo that does not irritate your scalp: it helps remove excess sebum and prevents dandruff from appearing.
- Follow a diet rich in antioxidants (among minerals, especially zinc) and essential fatty acids. Some also support the role of B group sulfuric amine acids and vitamins but these are the most useful molecules for hair health.
- Reduce the consumption of alcohol and foods rich in ‘bad fats’.
- Reduce the use of irritating or oily cosmetics such as: gel, lacquer or mousse.
Other useful tips on how to get rid of dandruff
- In addition to the use of suitable products, dandruff disturbance may be countered, or otherwise alleviated, by making some minor changes in your habits and lifestyle. Here are some useful tips:
- Learn how to handle rationally stress, giving you breaks when needed.
- Frequently wash your hair: Even though it is contrary to set the popular belief that frequent washings will increase dandruff and hair loss, daily cleansing with delicate products helps remove excess sebum and prevent the appearance of dandruff.
- Pursue a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, but also fish and ‘lean’ proteins, to ensure that the body provides an adequate supply of sulfur, zinc, omega-3, antioxidants and vitamin B vitamins. At the same time, moderate consumption of alcohol and hyperlipidic foods, such as fat cheeses.
- Reduce application on cosmetic hair such as gel, lacquer or mousse, which may be irritating to the scalp, make it more nauseous and increase itching associated with dandruff; this is the more truthful the more economical the product being used.
- Frequent washing and / or shampoo too aggressive: they dry and irritate the scalp.
The solutions can be three:
- Reduce the frequency of washing.
- Reduce the amount of shampoo.
- Choose a kind of shampoo that is not aggressive and / or suitable for frequent washings.
Too poor scrubbing: cause sebum accumulation and the proliferation of Malassezia furfur mushroom. Also, they do not allow to effectively remove the skin scales that tend to accumulate.