Once in a lifetime, everyone has an embarrassing urge to scratch their head in public. Or you are scared of wearing dark colored clothes just because of visible falling flakes on your shoulder or back. Although it is a harmless condition but, it can be infuriating and embarrassing. Have you ever wondered that from where these white flakes fall from your scalp!!! But wait! Are you sure that these white flakes are dandruff or just a dry scalp? Sometimes, which appears to be dandruff is simply a shampoo buildup, hair product build up or a dry scalp due to climate change.

What is the difference between dandruff and dry scalp?

Dandruff and dry scalp are mostly used interchangeably by almost everyone because of similar symptoms. Let’s have a look at the difference between dry scalp and dandruff.

What is Dry Scalp: Dry scalp lacks moisture which causes dryness and itchy scalp followed by the shedding of small flakes of dead scalp cells due to scratching. The causes of the dry scalp can be dehydration in the body, poor diet or environmental conditions.

What is Dandruff: Dandruff occurs due to the overproduction of the sebum and excessive action of yeast-like fungus known as Malassezia. This yeast feeds on the excessive oil sebum and on dead scalp cells resulting in the faster renewal process and further leads to the frequent shedding of scalp cells which fall off in the form of visible flakes.

Following is the comparison of the common symptoms of dandruff and dry scalp:

Symptoms Dandruff Dry Scalp
Oily large flakes usually yellow or white in color
Smaller Dry flakes
Itchy Scalp
Oily, Red Scaly Skin
Dry Skin on other parts of the body

What Causes Dandruff?

Dandruff can occur due to any reason such as dirty scalp, over use of hair styling products, product build up (shampoo, wax, gel etc) on the scalp, excessive oil production etc. However, the most common causes of dandruff are;

  • Change in the climatic condition
  • Dry skin
  • Skin conditions, such as psoriasis, eczema, or seborrheic dermatitis
  • Reaction to a hair product or shampoo

Mechanism of Action of Dandruff

The root cause of dandruff is a single-celled micro-organism known as Malassezia globosa. This microbe occurs on everyone’s scalp. Malassezia feeds on the natural oil secreted by the scalp i.e. sebum and break down it into the byproduct including the Oleic Acid.

The keratinocytes form a barrier on the skin which protects the body from damages caused by the bacteria, virus, fungus etc. When there is excessive production of the oil in the scalp, then due to microbial action, Malassezia yeast binds to the sebum. There is the occurrence of epidermal inflammatory reaction against the microbe which causes the exfoliation of the keratinocytes. As a result, scalp becomes dry, irritated or scaly forming dandruff.

How to treat Dandruff?

Dandruff is not a harmful condition but it can be embarrassing for you. If you are thinking that how to remove dandruff from your scalp, then following is the answer to your question. You can either choose from the scalp treatment for dandruff or from the natural remedies for dandruff. This treatment works as the best dandruff treatment.

Natural Remedies for Dandruff

In today’s era, the natural treatments are more adored, but hard to find the best one. If you are not fond of applying chemical agents on your scalp, then you will love the below given natural remedies to get rid of dandruff. These home remedies may take time in dandruff control but are considered as the best dandruff cure. Give a natural boost to your dandruff by using these remedies.

Neem Leaves for Dandruff

Neem or Indian Lilac helps to treat dandruff and act as the effective itchy scalp treatment or hair fall treatment. Neem possesses the anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties that help to fight dandruff causing micro-organism.

How to use Neem Oil for Dandruff:

    • Take leaves of Neem and boil them in water for 30-35 minutes.
    • Cool the solution and strain it.
    • Rinse your hair with this Neem water for 2-3 times in a week.

Coconut Oil for Dandruff

Coconut oil is considered as the best remedy for dandruff. Coconut oil has anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties that help to soothe and nourishes the scalp. It provides the moisturization to the scalp and helps to get relief from an itchy scalp.

How to use Coconut Oil for Dandruff:

  • Heat 2 tbsp of coconut oil and mix the equal amount of lemon juice in it.
  • Massage your scalp with this mixture gently and leave it for 20-30 minutes.
  • Rinse your hair with shampoo. You can repeat this natural remedy for dandruff control for 2-3 times in a week.

Apple Cider Vinegar for Dandruff

Apple Cider Vinegar contains probiotics and possesses anti-inflammatory properties that help to kill viruses and yeast that causes itchy scalp. It is effective to treat severe dandruff. It helps to soothe the scalp irritation caused by dandruff.

How to use Apple Cider Vinegar for Dandruff:

  • Take half cup of apple cider vinegar and mix it with a half cup of water.
  • Massage this mixture into your scalp properly and leave it for 15-20 minutes.
  • Rinse your hair with normal water. You can repeat this after 4-5 days. This is considered as the best dandruff treatment at home.

Curd for Dandruff

Treating dandruff with curd can be little messy. Curd contains natural anti-bacterial properties that help to kills bacterial or fungal infections. Curd act as a perfect exfoliator which effectively removes the dead skin cells on the scalp.

How to use Curd for Dandruff:

  • Apply some curd to your scalp and hair. You can use sour curd also.
  • Massage your scalp gently and sit for 50-60 minutes.
  • Rinse your hair with mild shampoo. Repeat this for 2-3 times in a week. It works as best dandruff treatment to get rid of a flaky scalp.

Tea Tree Oil for Dandruff

Tea Tree Oil has the better dermal penetration and possesses excellent anti-inflammatory or anti-fungal properties which help to treat dandruff easily. It helps to cleanse the scalp buildup and removes the excess dirt or oil from the scalp.

How to use Tea Tree Oil for Dandruff:

  • Just add the few drops of tea tree oil in your regular shampoo and mix it well.
  • Rub gently on your scalp and leave it for 5-10 minutes.
  • Rinse your hair with mild shampoo. Do this dandruff treatment for once or twice in a week.

Fenugreek Seeds for Dandruff

Fenugreek seeds or commonly known as ‘Methi’, has anti-fungal and scalp soothing properties. Due to its herbal properties, it helps to fight the signs of dandruff and also conditions the hair thoroughly. It also contains several vitamins and minerals that make hair strong.

How to use Fenugreek Seeds for Dandruff:

  • Soak the fenugreek seeds overnight and make a uniform paste of the soaked seeds.
  • Apply this paste to your scalp covering the entire scalp area and leave it for few hours.
  • Rinse your hair with mild shampoo. Do this once or twice in a week.

Baking Soda for Dandruff

Baking Soda possesses mild exfoliating properties. It helps to absorb the excess oil and removes the dead skin cells from the scalp. It also maintains the pH of the scalp and fights the fungal infections. It is an effective severe dandruff treatment.

How to use Baking Soda for Dandruff:

  • Mix the baking soda (2 tbsp) in the water and make a uniform paste.
  • Apply this paste to your scalp covering the entire scalp area and sit for 10-15 minutes. You can apply few drops of olive oil on the scalp before applying this paste to the scalp.
  • Rinse your hair with mild shampoo. Do this once or twice in a week.

Lemon Juice for Dandruff

Lemon has antiseptic properties that help to kill dandruff causing fungi or bacteria. It also helps to maintain the pH of the scalp. Lemon juice helps to treat the itchy scalp and fight the signs of dandruff. Lemon juice helps to eliminate dandruff from the roots of the scalp.

How to use Lemon Juice for Dandruff:

  • You can mix the few drops of lemon juice in curd or in coconut oil.
  • Apply this mixture to your scalp or hair and leave it for 15-20 minutes.
  • Rinse your hair with mild shampoo.

Anti-dandruff Treatment for dandruff free scalp

There are medicated anti-dandruff shampoos or oils that helps in dandruff cure and act as the effective itchy scalp treatment. The main active ingredients in the shampoo that kills the micro-organism or removes the flakes from the scalp are;

Ketoconazole, ZPTO, Piroctone Olamine are effective against dandruff causing yeast, fungus or bacteria while Salicylic Acid or Fumaric Acid helps to remove existing dandruff.

Ketoconazole: Ketoconazole exerts anti-fungal activity by altering and damaging the cellular membrane and also inhibits the growth of the fungal cells, thus treating dandruff effectively.

ZPTO: ZPTO or Zinc Pyrithione is an anti-fungal agent that inhibits the fungal growth through the increased cellular levels of the copper. It also damages the iron-sulfur cluster of the protein essential for the fungal metabolism.

Piroctone Olamine: Piroctone Olamine is also an anti-fungal compound. It has the ability to reduce the microbial colonization, thus reducing the microbial infection. It helps to soothe the scaly or irritated scalp.

Salicylic Acid: Salicylic Acid is a keratolytic and anti-inflammatory agent, mainly used to treat the skin and scalp conditions. It causes the shedding of the epidermal layer easily and helps to remove the dry or flaky scalp effectively.

Fumaric Acid: Fumaric Acid is a mild acid that helps to loosen the dead cells crust build up on the scalp from dandruff. It easily penetrates into the epidermal layer thus reducing dandruff to a greater extent.

Before using any of the dandruff treatment, consult with the doctor once. After the proper examination, he/she will recommend you the best treatment of dandruff for you.

Following are some tips to prevent dandruff. Follow these tips to get rid of dandruff easily.

  • Keep your scalp clean and wash your hair regularly
  • Get the right shampoo for your hair.
  • Protect your hair from extreme heat or cold
  • Brush your hair regularly. It will improve the blood circulation to the scalp and eliminates the flakes
  • Avoid hot scorching head bath
  • Avoid processed, packed or refined foods

Expert Advice on Dandruff

The dryness that accompanies dandruff makes your scalp itchy, just like any other part of your body itches when it becomes dry.

While dealing with dandruff, it is best to pick hair products that target the issue directly. Opt for medicated shampoos instead of your general store-bought ones. Ask your doctor once before using any medicated shampoo.

Dandruff cannot be cured permanently, but it can be controlled. Essentially, it is important to know what is causing dandruff in your hair, and then treat that. Simply a good take care of your scalp helps to keep your scalp healthy.

Dandruff is the shedding of dead skin cells from the scalp. It is a chronic condition that causes itching and flaking of the scalp. And if untreated, it can make the scalp itchy and inflamed, causing temporary hair loss as we scratch our scalp vigorously to get rid of itchiness which leads to the hair fall. Dandruff directly does not cause hair loss.

Yes, people who have dandruff can use a conditioner to keep up the condition of their hair. A conditioner does not stop the effect of an anti-dandruff shampoo on the scalp.

Seborrhoeic Dermatitis is a form of skin inflammation characterized by extreme redness and itchiness. It is related to the sebaceous gland that is oil or sebum secreting gland. Seborrhoeic dermatitis can be present in skin folds, nose, eyebrows, scalp etc. Some people consider seborrhoeic dermatitis as an extreme form of dandruff. It is also referred to as another name for Dandruff. When it is limited only to scalp it is called Dandruff. Seborrhoeic dermatitis is aggravated by season, stress, poor immunity etc. It can cause red, flaky, greasy patches of skin.


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