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What Is Dandruff-How to Treat Dandruff

A botany graduate, Nithya Venkat enjoys researching and writing about topics that interest her.

Hair Affected by Dandruff

Hair Affected by Dandruff

Dandruff is a condition that affects the scalp. It is characterized by the flaking of dead skin cells that are white or gray in color. Dandruff can be found sticking to the scalp or as loose white powder scattered throughout the scalp and hair strands.

Dandruff can be controlled and cured with proper treatment, but this condition can recur again.

What is Dandruff

Dandruff is flakes of dead skin cells that are white or gray in color. Dandruff can be found on the scalp in clumps, or it can be seen scattered on the scalp and in hair strands in a powdery form.

The scalp cells keep multiplying, forming new skin cells; when this happens, the old dead skin cells rise to the surface and are pushed out of the scalp. This is a natural process through which the scalp constantly renews itself.

When the rate at which the cells multiply increases, the dead skin cells are shed rapidly and are visible as white or gray flakes of dandruff. When excess dandruff falls on the clothes you wear or see on your hair, it becomes an embarrassing situation.

Dandruff becomes clearly visible when you wear dark-colored clothes. Dandruff is nothing to worry about; with proper treatment and care, dandruff can be controlled.

White Dandruff Flakes Stuck to Scalp

White Dandruff Flakes Stuck to Scalp

What Causes Dandruff

Malassezia is a yeast-like fungus that lives on the scalp and does not affect the scalp in any way, but for some people, this fungus irritates the scalp causing the formation of dandruff.

Dandruff can also be due to the following reasons -

  • skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis
  • diseases such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's
  • extreme changes in weather conditions
  • exposing the scalp to harsh heat or chemical treatments
  • extremely dry skin conditions
  • not washing hair regularly
  • lack of zinc mineral in your body
  • hormonal imbalance

Certain ingredients in hair care products can irritate the scalp and result in the formation of dandruff. Using strong shampoos that totally dry out the scalp can also lead to dandruff.

How to Treat Dandruff

Dandruff can be treated by using anti-dandruff shampoos. If anti-dandruff shampoos do not work, you can use medicated anti-dandruff shampoos that you can buy over the counter.

Use the medicated anti-dandruff shampoo every day till the condition is under control.

How to wash your hair with anti-dandruff shampoo?

  • wet your scalp thoroughly
  • massage the anti-dandruff shampoo gently on the scalp,
  • leave it on for about five minutes, or, as specified in the instruction,
  • wash off thoroughly
  • repeat once again
  • use a gentle conditioner after using an anti-dandruff shampoo.

Follow the given instructions for the treatment to be effective.

Scratching your scalp with your nails or with a comb to get rid of flakes of dandruff on the scalp will worsen the condition further. When you scratch or use a comb on your scalp, the cells can rupture, giving way to further infection of your scalp.

Ensure that you include food from which your body can obtain zinc mineral that is vital to control dandruff.

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Zinc can be obtained from pork, beef, poultry, oysters, and crab meat. Vegetarians can get zinc from milk, chickpeas, cheddar cheese, beans, almonds, and peanuts.

Medicated Anti-Dandruff Shampoos to Treat Dandruff

There are many types of medicated anti-dandruff shampoos to treat dandruff.

The following are medicated anti-dandruff shampoos that help to treat this condition -

1. Tar-based anti-dandruff shampoos have coal tar as one of their ingredients. Coal tar is a by-product that is produced in the process of manufacturing coal. It helps to treat dandruff by slowing down the flaking of skin cells on the scalp.

2. Anti-dandruff Shampoos containing salicylic acid help eliminate the flakes of dandruff but leave the scalp extremely dry. Using a conditioner helps to ease the dryness of the scalp.

3. Selenium sulfide anti-dandruff shampoos help slow down the flaking of skin cells and control the growth of the Malassezia fungus. Remember that these shampoos can discolor blond, gray, or chemically treated hair.

4. Selenium sulfide anti-dandruff shampoos kill any infection on the scalp and control the flaking of dead skin cells. These anti-dandruff shampoos leave a strong odor in the hair. Make sure to rinse the shampoo thoroughly out your hair when you use selenium sulfide shampoos.

5. Ketoconazole anti-dandruff shampoos are broad-spectrum anti-fungal agents that effectively treat and control dandruff.

Home Remedies to Treat Dandruff

Home remedies help to cure dandruff naturally. There are many ingredients that you use for cooking that also help to clear dandruff from your scalp.

Here are some of the home remedies that you can prepare and use to control dandruff -

Apple Cider Vinegar

Mix half cup warm water and half cup Apple Cider Vinegar. Massage the mixture into your scalp using your fingers but do not scratch with your nails. Apple Cider Vinegar kills infection on the scalp and controls dandruff.

Yogurt and Fenugreek Seeds

A combination of yogurt and fenugreek seeds helps to control and treat dandruff. Yogurt soothes the scalp and reduces the flaking of the scalp. Fenugreek seeds exfoliate and remove dead skin cells from the scalp. It also helps to kill fungal infections on the scalp.

Soak 2 tablespoons of fenugreek seeds in warm water overnight. Grind the fenugreek seeds to a fine paste. Mix one cup of curd with the ground fenugreek paste. Mix well and massage it into the scalp. Leave the mixture on the scalp for about fifteen minutes and then wash off.

Aloe vera gel

Aloe vera gel has anti-fungal properties and helps to get rid of any fungal infection. It also helps to soothe and heal the infected skin. Massage the gel into the scalp and leave it on for fifteen minutes and then wash off.

Neem and Lemon

Neem leaves with lemon juice help to get rid of dandruff effectively. Make a paste of six big Neem leaves. Add two tablespoons of lemon juice to this paste and mix well. Massage your scalp with this paste and leave it on for about fifteen minutes and then wash off. Neem, along with lemon, kills fungal infection on the scalp and controls the excessive production of dead skin cells.


Gooseberry is also known as Amla. Mix three tablespoons of gooseberry powder with water to make a paste. Apply the paste to the scalp, leave it on your scalp for about half an hour, and then wash off. Gooseberry kills infection on the scalp, controls the flaking of dead skin cells, and acts as a conditioner.

Egg whites

Separate the egg whites of two eggs. Squeeze a small lemon and mix the juice with the egg whites. Apply on the scalp and massage gently. Leave it on for half an hour and then wash off to control and treat dandruff.

Coconut Oil with Camphor

Heat three tablespoons of coconut oil in a pan. When the oil is heated, add a small piece of camphor to the oil. Massage the oil into the scalp, leave it on for half an hour and then wash off.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea Tree oil has anti-fungal properties and helps to kill infection on the scalp. It helps to exfoliate the scalp and get rid of the dead skin cells. Soak a cotton ball in Tea Tree oil and rub it on the affected areas. Wait for five minutes before washing off.

Do a patch test to determine if you are allergic to any of the ingredients you will apply to your scalp. If you already know that you are allergic to any of the ingredients mentioned above, do not use them on your scalp.

Dandruff in a Glance

  • dandruff is a condition of the scalp characterized by flaking of dead skin cells
  • the flakes are white or gray in color
  • dandruff can be treated with over the counter medicated shampoos
  • home remedies can also get rid of dandruff
  • dandruff is different from seborrheic dermatitis
  • contact your doctor if the condition worsens
  • dandruff can be cured but can recur again

What is the Difference Between Dandruff and Seborrheic Dermatitis

Dandruff is also referred to as Seborrheic dermatitis, but they are not the same skin conditions.

Dandruff is confined to the scalp and is gray or white in color. It may be found as patches or found scattered throughout the scalp and in hair strands.

In Seborrheic dermatitis, the white flakes turn yellow and greasy in texture. The flakes can build up as raised patches on the scalp. The scalp can also become inflamed and turn into red patches. Seborrheic dermatitis can spread beyond the scalp and infect the forehead, the area behind the ears, nose, and chest.

Dandruff is a scalp condition that can be treated by using home remedies or by using medicated shampoos. If dandruff persists or increases, contact your doctor for further advice.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2014 Nithya Venkat


Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on October 27, 2014:

LadyFiddler thank you for stopping by and yes dandruff is really irritating. Have a great day!

Joanna Chandler from On Planet Earth on October 27, 2014:

Very informative vellur :) dandruff can be a really irritating thing to deal with especially when your scalp is always scratching.

Thanks for sharing :)

Have a swell day

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on September 09, 2014:

Jackie Lynnley glad you got rid of dandruff. Thank you for stopping by and the vote up.

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on September 08, 2014:

Missed this, sorry. I haven't had dandruff in years, when I did I think it was from mousse and hair spray and junk I stopped using years ago. If I get it again though I will try your suggestions. Thanks! ^+

Oh; I use dandruff shampoo just now and then for the shine!

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on September 03, 2014:

PurvisBobbi44 I hope you are okay now, if you are not allergic to tea tree oil then you can try it, it works miracles. Thank you for reading and leaving a comment.

stuff4kids thank you and yes many people do not realize that dandruff can be so embarrassing.

Amanda Littlejohn on September 03, 2014:

I suspect that many people who don't suffer from dandruff or related skin conditions, often don't appreciate just what a debilitating and potentially embarrassing condition it is.

I hope this interesting and carefully researched information will help cure it for anyone who has this problem.

A hub that should be of great use to a lot of folks. Bless you :)

Barbara Purvis Hunter from Florida on September 03, 2014:


I am so happy you wrote this hub, because it will solve my problem.

After I broke or shattered my leg; I was in bed for 3 1/2 months and my scalp became dry. I didn't realize what in the world was happening to my scalp since I had little to no experience with dandruff.

After my sister shampooed my hair I melted Coconut Oil and poured it on my scalp; then I put a shower cap on it for the rest of the day. The next morning I wash it again.

It really helped, but now I have one tiny patch left and I will try one of your suggestions.

Thanks so much for the help.

Bobbi Purvis

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on September 02, 2014:

midget38 thank you for reading again, much appreciated.

DealForALiving thank you for reading and yes it is indeed amazing.

Nick Deal from Earth on September 02, 2014:

Thank you for writing this hub. It's amazing how some dead skin cells can look so revolting and convey so much. Your graphics are perfect for the article.

Michelle Liew from Singapore on September 02, 2014:

Coming in to share again, Nithya!

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on August 31, 2014:

Suzanne Day thank you for stopping by and the vote up.

Suzanne Day from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on August 30, 2014:

Those photos make me feel itchy! I have heard of the apple cider vinegar remedy but not sure if it works. Trying not to scratch might also help, though it would be hard! Voted useful.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on August 28, 2014:

Nell Rose thank you, yes we never know. Thank you for stopping by.

AudreyHowitt thank you.

Audrey Howitt from California on August 28, 2014:

Just an excellent hub!

Nell Rose from England on August 27, 2014:

Great advice Vellur, I have had trouble with this in the past, but luckily these days it seems to have gone, no more Dandruff, but you never know! lol!

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on August 27, 2014:

midget38 Tea Tree Oil is very effective and keeps off dandruff. Thank you for your visit and share.

Michelle Liew from Singapore on August 27, 2014:

I use Tea Tree Oil when I get it. it's effective!! Shared!!

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on August 14, 2014:

teaches12345 thank you and yes dandruff can really get frustrating , thank you for the vote up and pin.

Janellegems thank you for stopping by.

Janellegems on August 14, 2014:

Great home remedies and shampoos to treat dandruff. Thanks for sharing this vital information.

Dianna Mendez on August 14, 2014:

Once I got dandruff because my stylist was not sanitizing her hair combs. I changed to another immediately. Great natural remedies for this condition that can frustrate people. Voted up and pinning.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on August 14, 2014:

Audrey Howitt thank you.

rebeccamealey thank you.

always exploring thank you and yes apple cider vinegar does help to get rid of dandruff.

travmaj yes medicated shampoos are really harsh, thank you fro stopping by.

Faith Reaper thank you for your visit and many vote ups.

Alicia C thank you for taking the time to read and leaving a comment.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on August 13, 2014:

This is very useful information, Vellur. Thanks for sharing all the tips and details.

Faith Reaper from southern USA on August 13, 2014:

Wonderful home remedies you have shared here! Such a useful hub here full of great information.

Voted up ++ tweeting and pinning

Blessings always

travmaj from australia on August 13, 2014:

Great hub. Dandruff affects most of us at some time or another. I like your natural remedies, some of the shampoos are so harsh.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on August 13, 2014:

I didn't know that apple cider vinegar was used for dancruff control. Interesting article...

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on August 13, 2014:

Drandruff bugs us all from time to time. Your list of causes is interesting, and thanks for some good tips for controlling it.

Audrey Howitt from California on August 13, 2014:

Great hub!! Very helpful I thought!

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on August 13, 2014:

ARUN KANTI thank you.

FlourishAnyway thank you and yes you are so right dandruff can totally ruin the look.

billybuc thank your visit and comment.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on August 13, 2014:

Very useful information for most anyone. Thank you for the remedies.

FlourishAnyway from USA on August 13, 2014:

This is an extremely thorough hub on a condition that affects many people. It is very off-putting to see, especially when someone is all dressed up in a nice dark suit or dress. It can ruin the effect. Great advice and a nicely constructed hub. Voted up and sharing.

ARUN KANTI CHATTERJEE from KOLKATA on August 13, 2014:

Very informative hub. Although I do not have dandruff I suffer from itchy scalp sometimes and I have yet to find any solution. Thank you for the tips.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on August 13, 2014:

DDE thank you for stopping by and glad you do not have this condition.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on August 13, 2014:

Helpful tips here on dandruff issues. I don' t have that problem but your ideas sound great.

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