Dandruff: Causes and Remedies

A lot has been mentioned about dandruff: causes and remedies alike. There is not one specific cause of dandruff and for sure no specific remedy that works for all cases of dandruff. But for starters, here are some facts:

Fast Facts about Dandruff:
1. Looks like flour on your scalp
2. Dandruff is more common in men than in women
3. About 50% of Africans suffer with dandruff
4. It gets better with age…
5. Diets that are too salty, sugary or spicy increase dandruff. Oh yes, excessive alcohol too!

Also known as Scurf or Pityriasis simplex capillitii, the exact cause of dandruff is not known but you can be sure that it is not bad hygiene. However, the symptoms – itchy scalp and flaking – can be observed faster with poor hygiene.

Dandruff is most common after puberty. Babies can sometimes have dandruff and yellow, greasy, scaly patches on their scalp. This is known as cradle cap. Cradle cap appears most often in babies in the first two months. It tends to last only a few weeks or months.

So, what are some of the speculated causes of dandruff?

⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠1) Seborrheic dermatitis (irritated, oily skin): Seborrheic dermatitis affects many areas of the skin, including the backs of the ears, the breastbone, eyebrows, and the sides of the nose. On the scalp, Seborrheic dermatitis is closely linked with unharmful Malassezia fungus. When the fungus grows out of control, the scalp becomes irritated and produces extra skin cells which die and fall off; they mix with the oil from the hair and scalp and turn into what we see as dandruff.
2) Limited hair brushing which is supposed to aid in the shedding off of dead skin
3) Yeast
4) Dry skin natural cause the skin to crack and flake.
5) People with dandruff caused by dry skin tend to have small flakes of dandruff; the flakes are not oily.
6) Poor or limited shampooing or washing of hair. This will leave lots of build up on the scalp which aids the accumulation of dandruff
7) Diets lacking in zinc, B vitamins, and some types of fats
8) Mental stress always affects one’s skin. The scalp inclusive
9) Reaction to some skin care and hair care products
10)Certain illnesses like eczema, HIV, etc..

So now that we know some of the speculated causes of dandruff (there is no specific cause of dandruff as cases differ from person to person). Let us look at some of the remedies, specifically the natural ones.

When treating dandruff, 2 major factors are considered
1. Age
2. Severity of the dandruff
The aim is to stop the dandruff by slowing down the reproduction of skin cells, or counteract the yeast production that might be the cause.

Please note that very severe cases require urgent medical attention by a qualified dermatologist.

Otherwise, here are some of the remedies:
1. Medicated shampoos containing any of these ingredients: Ketoconazole, Selenium sulphide, Zinc pyrithione, Coal tar, Salicylic acids, Tea-tree oil and Green Tea (potentially). Endeavour to leave the shampoo on for about 5 minutes for it to do its work.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar: rinse your scalp with apple cider vinegar as the acidity of apple cider vinegar changes the pH of your scalp, making it harder for yeast to grow.
3. Lemon: Lemon’s acidity helps balance the pH of your scalp, which helps keeps dandruff at bay.
4. Salt: Scrub your scalp with some salt. The abrasiveness of ordinary table salt works great for scrubbing out dandruff flakes before you shampoo. Grab a saltshaker and shake some salt onto your dry scalp. Work your way round your scalp for about 10 minutes. You will find that most of the flakes have been removed on washing the hair.
5. Aloe Vera: Treat your scalp to an aloe vera gel mask
6. Shea Butter: It has great anti-fungal properties that help to rid the scalp of dangerous levels of fungi
7. Baking Soda: After wetting your hair, rub a spoonful of baking soda on your scalp and leave it on for about 2 minutes before washing it off.
8. Regular hair treatments with henna
9. Neem juice also creates acid levels that make it difficult for dandruff-causing fungi to thrive

Please do not subject your babies with cradle cap to harsh home remedies for dandruff. treat it gently and it shall go.

Next up, we shall explore in detail the natural remedies/treatments of dandruff in this series Dandruff: Causes and Remedies.


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