Dandruff is your enemy. Those flakes appearing on your shoulders of your favorite little black dress or dark colored sweater are the ugly symptoms. Itchy scalp can also be an uncomfortable symptom that there’s a dandruff enemy on the attack. There’s no doubt about it, dandruff is an enemy that must be conquered and that’s what this post is all about.
Know Your Enemy
Before you decide on what weapons to use to conquer dandruff, you must know what’s causing it. According to the Mayo Clinic, the most common cause of dandruff is dry skin; unfortunately that’s just one of several causes of dandruff. Let’s look at each one.
- The symptoms are itchy flaking dandruff. The flakes are usually smaller and dryer than other types of dandruff. If you have dry skin on other parts of your body, then this is the most likely the cause of your dandruff.
Oily skin (seborrhoeic dermatitis)
- This is an ugly enemy in that your skin will usually be red and greasy. Those red greasy areas will be covered with white or yellow scales. If seborrhoeic dermatitis is causing your dandruff, you will probably have patches elsewhere on your body, particularly in the areas with more oil glands such as around your nose, eyebrows and back of your ears.
Eczema (atopic dermatitis)
- If you have eczema anywhere on your body, it can end up on your scalp. Eczema can be very itchy and is recognized by areas of red to brownish-gray patches with thickened, cracked or scaly skin.
- Like eczema, if you have psoriasis anywhere on your body, it can end up on your scalp. It may be difficult to know if your dandruff is eczema or psoriasis if the only place it shows up is on your scalp.
- This is a common inhabitant living peacefully on the scalp of most people, however occasionally it gets out of hand and creates a dandruff problem. When this happens, you end up with dandruff similar to that produced by seborrheic dermatitis.
Not shampooing often enough
- Rule of thumb: Shampoo your hair no more than two or three times a week. If you have dry hair, washing your hair once a week should suffice. Those of you who have oily hair and wash it every day may want to reconsider. There is evidence that by washing your hair every day, you actually can increase sebum production. Sebum, if you remember, is the oil produced by sebaceous glands that deposit oils into hair follicles.
- You may have an allergy to one or more of your hair care products. If you think this might be the cause, change products to those you know are unlikely to cause a reaction. I would suggest doing a patch test on the inside of your elbow with a dab of the suspected hair product. If you develop a rash or irritation, you’ll know that product is probably the villain.
- Here we go again. Dandruff is just one more of the many problems caused by stress. Stress can cause dandruff and it can also make it worse. An indication that stress might be the cause of your dandruff is if it follows a particularly stressful situation or event in your life.
Slaying the enemy: Dandruff
There are essential oils that can help rid you of your dandruff. You can either add them to your shampoo at the rate of 3 drops per ½ cup of shampoo or, better yet make your own shampoo that will include the oils you need. In the post Super Easy Homemade Shampoo, I’ve included recipes for oily, dry and normal hair types. Choose the formula that most closely matches your hair type and substitute the following anti dandruff essential oils in place of those recommended in the recipes.
- Seborrhoeic dermatitis, eczema and psoriasis dandruff – Use tea tree oil with jojoba oil as a carrier. (Mix the tea tree oil with the jojoba oil and do a patch test.)
- Dry dandruff – tea tree, geranium, lavender, orange, sandalwood or rosemary
- Oily dandruff – tea tree, cypress, rosemary, lemon, geranium, cedarwood or basil
In addition to the treatment to your hair, get that stress under control. Additional lifestyle changes also include a diet low in saturated fats (make sure you’re getting enough of those Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats), and sugars. If you’ve got a sweet tooth and a weak will like I do, take extra vitamin B’s to compensate.
To defeat the enemy will take some time regardless of what antidandruff shampoo you use, so be patient. In the meantime, wear lighter colored clothing and stay calm. You might want to give your hair an aloe vera gel treatment for an added boost. You can find out how to do that on the post “Aloe Vera Gel for Hair,” If the dandruff doesn’t respond within a few weeks of treatment, it may be time to visit a good dermatologist.
Now go have fun and relax.