Although the cause of dandruff is not completely understood, it is currently theorized that one of the main causes is a breakdown of the scalps natural lipid barrier, leaving it more exposed to infection by the microscopic yeast that is commonly found in the scalp. When the yeast overgrows, it leads to an inflammatory response that kills off scalp cells at a high rate, which in turn slough off in sticky patches and flakes.
The condition is identified by:
- White or clear flakes on the scalp, through the hair, and on clothing.
- Itchy scalp which may be red and inflamed.
Some young teens find they develop dandruff when they hit puberty because their hygiene habits haven’t changed to meet the challenges of newly accelerated sebum production.
Stress, poor hygiene and poor diet can make the scalp more susceptible to dandruff. High sugar foods in particular are known to exacerbate yeast infections.
The hair should be brushed regularly to loosen flakes and stimulate blood supply to the scalp, which will accelerate the natural immune response to infection.
There are few habits you can develop and natural treatments you can use to treat dandruff.
Nutrition: An excess of sugar in the diet can exacerbate any yeast infection. Try reducing your intake of all sugars and refined starches while treating for dandruff.
Cleansing: Massage your scalp thoroughly with your fingertips when shampooing. This will help loosen and remove any dead skin flakes and help prevent the infection from continuing. Wash your hair daily until the infection is cleared up.
Conditioning: Use a protective hair condition on the ends of hair only. Avoid getting conditioner on your scalp where it can clog pores and interfere with healing of the skin.
- Massage: Massaging your scalp several times a day with the pads of the fingers only will stimulate blood supply to the hair follicles and help loosen the dead skin flakes.
- Brushing: Brushing your hair thoroughly on a daily basis will help loosen and remove dead skin flakes, increase the smooth flow of sebum along the hair shaft, and increase blood supply to the hair follicles.
- Wash Hands After Brushing and Grooming Hair: Fungal infections of the skin are highly contagious, and it is easy to reinfect and spread to other areas of the body. This is why it’s important to wash your hair daily and to brush out any loose dandruff flakes – so that healthy areas of the scalp will not be infected. Washing your hands after brushing, massaging and grooming your hair will also help prevent reinfection or cross infection.
The following herbs and nutrients have been shown to reduce dandruff infections:
Natural Internal Treatments for Dandruff
Alpha-Lipoic Acid, Vanadyl Sulfate, Gynema Sylvestre and Chromium are all natural regulators of blood sugar levels. The can help prevent feeding the infection by keeping blood sugar levels normalized.
Olive Leaf and Oregano Leaf are both natural systemic antifungal agents.
Natural External Treatments for Dandruff
The following herbs can be used as a tonic for reducing fungal infections on a topical basis. Extracts of these herbs or a several drops of their essential oils dissolved in aloe vera gel or witch hazel can greatly relieve the symptoms of itching and flaking in dandruff. Tea tree oil is particularly effective against fungal and bacterial infections.
Grapefruit Seed Extract
Grapefruit Essential Oil
Juniper Berry Essential Oil
Lavender Essential Oil
Tea Tree Oil