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What are Home Remedies for Dandruff?

By Shannon Kietzman
Updated May 17, 2024
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Dandruff is a condition characterized by white flakes of dead skin in the hair and on the shoulders. Most dandruff sufferers also experience itching on the scalp, yet scratching the itch only serves to irritate the condition.

There are several conditions that can cause dandruff flakes. Many people believe dry skin is the cause of dandruff, but this is not true. While dry skin on the scalp can cause the skin to be itchy and flaky, the flakes from dry skin are smaller and not as oily as true dandruff. Dandruff can, however, be caused by overactive oil glands located on the scalp, which can speed up the skin’s natural shedding process. Also, the oil glands may become clogged and cause the skin to become overly dry and flaky.

Another possible cause of dandruff is a fungus that is found on the scalp. Some people have a sensitivity to this fungus, while others have too much fungal growth. Poor hygiene, a poor diet, infections, hormones, and simple genetics can also contribute to dandruff. Certain environmental factors, such as cold weather, poor rinsing of the hair or failure to shampoo often enough, tight hats, and a generally dry environment, can aggravate the scalp and cause dandruff. In addition, individuals who are prone to dandruff may experience it more when they are feeling stressed.

While dandruff is most commonly treated with special medicated shampoos, there are several steps a person can take to avoid developing dandruff in the first place. One helpful step is to learn to properly manage stress, as stress has an effect on a person’s overall health and makes it more likely for conditions such as dandruff to develop. In addition, stress can worsen dandruff symptoms in those who are already experiencing it.

It is also important to shampoo regularly. Individuals with an oily scalp should shampoo every day in order to remove excess oil from the scalp that can lead to dandruff. Similarly, the amount of styling products used on the hair should be kept to a minimum, as they tend to build up in the hair and cause the scalp to become oily. Maintaining a healthy diet that includes whole grains, fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, and little lean protein can also be beneficial. In addition, it is best to avoid getting too much sun, but a little exposure to sunlight is helpful in preventing dandruff.

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Discussion Comments
By elizabeth23 — On Oct 05, 2011

I would advise against dandruff shampoos, or even any shampoo more than once or twice a week if you have thick hair.

Like @popcorn, I swore off shampoo. For me it was several years ago now, and about a year afterward I started using baking soda. I have really thick hair, and these days I use baking soda once a week, no conditioner, and gel in my hair a little bit just to style, both after I shower and a little bit when I get up if I think I need it.

I do wash out my hair a few times a week, I just usually don't add anything to it.

By SteamLouis — On Oct 05, 2011

@animegal-- My remedy for getting rid of and preventing dandruff is switching between shampoos.

I have three different shampoos at home and I try not to wash my hair with the same shampoo two days in a row. You don't need as many shampoos, two is enough. Wash your hair with one and the next time you wash your hair, use the other shampoo.

I think that every shampoo is a little different and affects our scalp and hair differently. Switching them helps prevent build-up caused by one shampoo and the side effects are not as much.

I used to have really bad dandruff and ever since I started doing this, I don't have it anymore. Give it a try.

By SZapper — On Oct 04, 2011

@JaneAir - That's really interesting. It might be kind of nice to never have to spend money on shampoo again. I would love to be able to take care of my hair just using inexpensive household products.

I also have dandruff, and I think this article is right on in saying that stress exaggerates the problem. I know whenever I'm stressed out, my usual dandruff shampoo just stops working. It's horrible! Then the dandruff makes me even more stressed out, perpetuating a pretty vicious cycle.

By JaneAir — On Oct 03, 2011

@popcorn - I actually have a few friends that swore off shampoo a few years ago. Instead, they use baking soda and apple cider vinegar for all of their hair care needs.

They shampoo with a little bit of baking soda mixed with water and then use apple cider vinegar as the conditioner, just as you described. One of my friends had dandruff and she swears by this method.

I actually have dandruff too, but I've been too scared to try this. From what my friends tell me, there is an adjustment period when you stop using shampoo where your hair is really greasy for a few weeks. I don't know if I could deal with that!

By popcorn — On Oct 03, 2011

@animegal - I have had dandruff issues for years, and I hate how embarrassing it is to see white flakes on yourself that standout too. I have tried many kinds of dandruff shampoo over the years and so far haven't really found a product that I could recommend to anyone else.

Surprisingly for me, the best dandruff treatment was using diluted apple cider vinegar as a rinse for my scalp. I just washed my hair as usual, than made a rinse out of the vinegar. All you need is a cup of warm water, and to add enough vinegar so that the water just changes color slightly. It really did an amazing job and within a week my dandruff was totally gone.

By animegal — On Oct 02, 2011

Does anyone have any really good ideas for a dandruff treatment that doesn't cost much money and really works?

I have black hair and find that the dandruff I have really stands out and I usually end up wearing a hat to hide it. There are so many dandruff remedies out there that I feel at a loss for what to do. Especially since a lot of the stuff from the store I have tried hasn't helped very much.

Also, another problem I have with dandruff cures as that they tend to be really expensive and I am on a tight budget right now. I just can't afford to pay $20 for one bottle of shampoo.

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