Natural home remedies for dandruff
Do your shoulders look as if you just walked in from a snowstorm? Are you blinded by a blizzard every time you comb your hair? Dandruff isn’t a serious health problem, but it sure can be embarrassing. To factor out those flakes, use the right shampoo. You can also whip up a homemade scalp rinse that will beat the yeast behind many cases of dandruff and give the dreaded itch the axe.
What you can do for dandruff
- Look for shampoos with selenium sulfide, tar, or zinc pyrithione. Anti-dandruff shampoos with these ingredients retard the rate at which scalp cells multiply. They are more effective than products formulated with sulfur or salicylic acid, which loosen flakes so they can be washed away.
- If your dandruff doesn’t respond, try a shampoo that contains ketoconazole. Ketoconazole is an antifungal medication that will kill the yeast that may be causing your dandruff.
- If your dandruff shampoo stops working after a few months, your scalp probably got “used to” the active ingredient and started to “ignore” it. Just switch to a shampoo made with a different active ingredient. You may need to switch back in another few months.
- Leave on dandruff shampoo for at least 10 minutes before you rinse to let it do its best work. For a serious case of flakes, lather up, plunk a shower cap on your head, and leave the shampoo on for an hour. You might want to extract a promise from your spouse or significant other not to laugh.
- Make a dandruff rinse using the herb goldenseal. It contains berberine, which has strong antibacterial and antifungal properties. Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 2 teaspoons of chopped root. Steep, strain, and let it cool. Use it 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 to a little bit of 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 1 cup of boiling water over 1 teaspoon of chopped rosemary. Let it sit for a few minutes, then strain. Use the liquid as a rinse once a day. If the rinse irritates your skin, move on to a different remedy.
- Another herbal anti-dandruff rinse is made with bay leaves. Add a handful of crushed bay leaves to one litre of very hot (just boiled) water. Cover and let steep for 20 minutes. Strain, allow to cool, and apply. You might want to leave it in your hair for an hour or so before rinsing.
- Apple cider vinegar, which kills a variety of fungi and bacteria, is frequently recommended as a home remedy for dandruff. Mix one part water with one part apple cider vinegar. Apply as a rinse after you shampoo.
A natural boost for dandruff treatment
- Try tea tree. Tea-tree oil has strong antifungal properties. Dilute the oil in a little bit of a carrier oil (such as olive or grape-seed oil) and apply to your scalp. Leave it overnight. Or add a few drops to your shampoo. In health-food stores you may find shampoos with tea-tree oil already in them.
- Try a cultured cure. It’s not pretty, but it may work: Spread 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.
- Get the flax. Take 1 to 2 teaspoons of flaxseed oil a day. It contains essential fatty acids, which seem to help itchy skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema—and possibly dandruff. Be patient; you may need to take it for up to 3 months to see a difference. A side benefit: Flaxseed oil also helps guard against heart disease.
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