Tired of the annoyingly insatiable itch on your head that just won’t go away? Spend more time scratching your head literally rather than figuratively? Can’t or won’t wear black clothes because of the constant ‘snowfall’ on your shoulders? Dandruff affects people of all races and colours and all ages throughout the world. So there is no need to be ashamed or be embarrassed of it. The best way to deal with dandruff is to attack it like any other skin condition. So look no further! With these tips and tricks, you will be able to manage your dandruff and eventually be rid of it.
What Is Dandruff
So what exactly is dandruff? Do you really have dandruff or just dry skin or something else? So let’s get into it.
Dry Scalp: What you think is dandruff, might as well just be dry skin from your scalp. Just like your skin, which gets dry and scaly during winter and ryer months due to lack of moisture, your scalp can start flaking too because of dryness. It might be itchy because of the dryness, and flake, but just like dry skin, adding back the moisture should be more than enough to address the situation. In this condition, you will have small flakes of skin falling, but no oily scalp and chunks of oil flakes lifting off.
Dandruff: A condition of the skin of your scalp, its cause isn’t completely known, but believed to involve a number of genetic and environmental factors. The most accepted answer is fungal infection. Our scalp naturally produces oils and sebum and has its own host of natural fauna. In the case of some people, the cell turnover rate is too high in the scalp. This causes a buildup of dead skin, oils and sebum which creates the perfect environment for fungi to multiply and grow. So what you’re left with, is oily and yellowish big flakes of skin that come off. The skin is itchy and sometimes red.
Psoriasis: Very easy to mistake with dandruff, psoriasis of the scalp is a very different thing. An autoimmune condition of the skin, it leads to patches of red/ scaly and itchy skin. The treatment of psoriasis is completely different and medical intervention is required.
So how to tackle dandruff?
Avoid dark clothes and wear white indefinitely? No!
Use these tips and tricks to manage it:
If you’re suffering from dry scalp and not dandruff, adding the moisture back is the way to go. Use your oil of choice to massage your scalp before you wash it. Ironically, you can also use oiling to control dandruff! You’d think adding oil is bad, but it can actually balance out the sebum production and cell turnover. For dandruff use oils with added ingredients like lemon, amla or neem oil (which has proven antifungal properties).
2) Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
What shampoo you use makes a big difference. If you’re suffering from dry scalp, don’t use harsh shampoos and use moisturizing ones instead. In case of dandruff, you get specific anti- dandruff shampoos with antifungal ingredients like ‘ketoconazole’ and exfoliants like ‘salicylic acid’ which with regular use will eventually help control the dandruff and eventually get rid of it, with patience. Head & Shoulders is great, just find the variant that works best for you.
3) Hair Masks
You can also use hair masks to tackle dandruff. You can buy them in store or make your own. Apply and massage onto your scalp an hour before washing it with aforementioned shampoo.
Some masks you can buy: Himalaya anti-dandruff mask, Nat Habit
Some DIY masks: Mix dahi (curd) with lemon or apple cider vinegar. Caution: Lemon is very aggressive so avoid if you have cracked/ irritated skin and also keep only for 10 minutes.
4) Wooden Comb
If the other steps are not enough, switch your plastic comb for a wooden one. Not only is it good for the environment, it isn’t as harsh and irritating for the scalp. The bristles are generally thicker and rounded and are gentle on the scalp which might help alleviate some of the redness and irritation.
5) Silicone Massage Brush
Using your nail to scratch or wash your scalp not only aggravates things, but can also lead to hair breakage. Instead, use a silicone massager to gently massage in the oils and while shampooing your hair. Not only are the bristles much more gentle, it alleviates blood flow which leads to better scalp health overall.
6) Avoid Product Buildup
All your styling products can build up on your hair and scalp and interfere with your normal skin processes. So avoid putting conditioners and styling products on your scalp, just apply them on the length of your hair. You can also wash your hair with ‘Apple Cider Vinegar’ once a month to get rid of any buildup.
7) Consult a Dermatologist
If all else fails, and if you have such severe dandruff that home remedies don’t help, consult a medical professional, specifically a dermatologist. They’ll be better able to assess your condition in person and give you a personally tailored regime to help you out. Once it is under control, and with your doctor’s recommendation, you can add and continue the above mentioned methods to manage your condition.
8) Have Patience
There is no one trick or product that cures all. You might have dandruff for a couple of months or years, depending on genetic and environmental factors. All the above mentioned methods might cure it, and get rid of dandruff…but that takes time and discipline to do it on a regular basis. It can take anywhere from 2 weeks to a month for you to start seeing changes (if you’re a person with long hair who doesn’t wash it often, short hair people who wash their hair often will see results sooner). Even after you’re rid of pesky flakes and itchiness, you might wanna continue with some steps (like oiling and shampooing) to keep it at bay and keep your scalp healthy. So find out what works for YOU and continue with that.