Dandruff is the common skin condition that leaves us with an itchy, irritated scalp and small flakes that gather on our clothing, often causing us frustration and embarrassment. It can get worse in the winter as our skin dries out due to the dry, cold weather. While it may be a great photo opp to have flecks of snow in your hair, dandruff is’t the snow we are looking for. So what to do?
Well, it can help to investigate the reasons why we may have this condition and what makes it better or worse for us personally. Are you getting lots of fats in your diet? How often and with what are you washing your hair? Are you using hair care products that dry your scalp or cause it to be excessively oily? Is your home to dry? Do you blow dry your hair? Are you experiencing hormonal changes? Answering some of these questions may help you figure out what might be causing your problem.
The skin on your scalp is an extension of the skin on your face and needs to be treated with the same care and yet the typical person probably uses shampoo and other products with some potentially nasty ingredients. SLS or Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is one such ingredient to be avoided as it can greatly irritate skin and it is found in most shampoos. In fact when companies have healing cremes or products they need to test on irritated skin, SLS is the irritant they choose to rub on the skin of humans and animals to see if they then “heal” it with their new product. Does that sound like something you want to be bathing your skin with each day?
Dandruff is also thought to be caused in part by excessive oil production on the scalp. This is yet another side effect of using conventional shampoos, which strip our hair of their natural oils causing us to produce them with a vengeance . This is why the hair of shampoo users gets crazy oily when they go even a day or two without washing. Excessive oil production becomes standard so looking into a no poo method may be helpful if you have dandruff because it may be a fungal variety of dandruff that feeds on that excessive oil.
Sensitivity to certain products may also be playing a role. SLS, fragrance, and chemicals from hair dye can all be bad news for your scalp. They cause irritation and excess oil production. I know personally that I will get dandruff if I use hair bleach or dye and I usually don’t have a problem with flakes. These products are bad news for the health of your scalp.
If your dandruff is related to eczema or psoriasis then you may need to look into triggers and deficiencies like stress, weather, sleep, diet, and allergies. Make sure to get sufficient sleep and include in your diet lots of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant fruits and veggies as well as proteins rich in zinc and B vitamins like oysters, beef, and lamb. Omega-3 fatty acids are also important so take your fish and krill oils and eat your sardines. The fatty acids from these sources are much better for your skin than those found in plant based sources like flaxseed and nuts. Eating sugar and refined carbs will increase inflammation in the body so stay away from those.
Use homemade shampoos with tea tree oil or peppermint for itching and irritation. Coconut oil and tea tree are also great anti-fungals. For dryness use lavender, aloe, or chamomile. Shampooing less will help your scalp rebalance oil production. The acidity in vinegar can help kill any bacteria that may be contributing to the problem and it can also reduce buildup that occurs from overusing hair care products. Combining cooked oatmeal with mashed bananas and spreading on damp hair can also be used to treat dry scalp/dandruff.
Hopefully with these tips you can find out why you may be getting the flakes and you will have a few ideas on what you can try to combat them. Good luck!