How to get rid of dandruff
To control those dandruff flakes, use the right shampoo. You can also whip up a homemade scalp rinse that will tackle the yeast behind many cases of dandruff and help to stop the dreaded itching.
- Look for shampoos that contain selenium sulphide, zinc pyrithione or tar. The first 2 ingredients slow down the rate at which the cells on your scalp multiply. They are used in shampoos such as Head and Shoulders or Selsun.
- Tar-based formulas, such as T-Gel, also slow cell growth. These shampoos are all more effective than products that are formulated with sulphur or salicylic acid, which simply loosen flakes so they can be washed away.
- If your dandruff doesn't respond to a shampoo like Head and Shoulders, try one that contains ketoconazole, such as Nizoral. Ketoconazole is an antifungal medication that will kill the yeast that may be causing your dandruff.
- If a specific anti-dandruff shampoo stops working after a few months, your scalp has probably become used to the active ingredient and started to ignore it. Just switch to a shampoo made with a different active ingredient. Be aware that you may need to switch back in another few months.
- Leave dandruff shampoo on your scalp for at least 10 minutes before you rinse to let it do its work. For a serious case of dandruff, it's worth taking more time. Lather up, put a shower cap on your head and leave the shampoo on for an hour.
Natural remedies for dandruff
- Take 1-2 teaspoons of flaxseed oil (linseed) a day. It contains essential fatty acids, which seem to help itchy skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema–and perhaps dandruff. Be patient; you may need to take the oil for up to 3 months before you notice a difference. One additional benefit is that flaxseed oil helps to guard against heart disease.
- It's not pretty, but it may work: spread live yogurt on your scalp and leave it there for half an hour, then rinse. Yogurt contains ‘friendly’ bacteria that keep yeast in check. That's why it's also a traditional remedy for yeast infections.
- Tea-tree oil has strong antifungal properties. Dilute 7 drops tea-tree oil in 1 tablespoon carrier oil (such as olive or grape-seed oil), apply it to your scalp and leave it on overnight. Or add a few drops to your normal shampoo. Several shampoos are now available with tea-tree oil already in them.
Scalp rinses to stop dandruff
- Make a dandruff rinse using the herb goldenseal. It contains berberine, which has strong antibacterial and antifungal properties. Pour boiling water over 2 teaspoons chopped goldenseal root. Steep, strain and let it cool. Use this as a rinse after you've shampooed, or any time during the day. If you can't find goldenseal root, add a few drops of goldenseal tincture (available from medical herbalists and online from specialty herb suppliers) to a little shampoo.
- Brew up a fragrant rosemary rinse. Like goldenseal, rosemary fights bacteria and fungi. And rosemary is a lot easier to find. To make the rinse, pour boiling water over 1 teaspoon chopped rosemary. Let it sit for a few minutes, then strain. Use the infusion as a rinse once a day. If you find that the rinse irritates your skin, try a different remedy.
- Another herbal anti-dandruff rinse is made with bay leaves. Add a handful of crushed bay leaves to a litre of very hot (just boiled) water. Cover and allow to steep for about 20 minutes. Strain, allow to cool and apply. You can leave it in your hair for an hour or so before rinsing.
- Cider vinegar, which kills a variety of fungi and bacteria, is frequently recommended as a home remedy for dandruff. Mix 1 part water with 1 part apple cider vinegar. Apply as a rinse after you have shampooed your scalp and hair.
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