Author: Rositsa Tashkova, Master of Molecular Biology and Microbiology
Every second person suffers or has suffered from dandruff. We don't have to explain what it is, it's familiar to pain... or itch.
Among the causative agents of the unpleasant condition is a fungus of the genus Malassezia, which lives on our skin, but certain conditions can lead to it's excessive growth and the negative consequences of this for our skin.
Other reasons for dandruff are:
- Dry skin;
- Seborrheic dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis;
- Intolerance or sensitivity to shampoos and other cheicals we treat our hair with;
- Deficiency of some vitamins and minerals.
A variety of shampoos are available commercially to fight off dandruff. They are effective for one but useless for another, and sometimes their effectiveness is only short-lived and the problem returns again in full force. What can we try to do at home in these cases?
Mix herbs with your anti-dandruff shampoo
2014 study [ref.1] has found that the combination of certain herbs and the substances pyrocton olamine and Zinc-PCA (zinc L-pyrrolidone carboxylic acid), which are present in anti-dandruff shampoos, gives positive results after 2 to 4 weeks of use.
Alcoholic extracts of the following herbs were used:
- pomegranate (Punica granatum),
- rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis),
- chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla),
- nettles (Urtica dioica),
- mint (Mentha piperita),
- sage (Salvia officinalis).
Try tea tree еssential oil mixed with shampoo
Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) essential oil can be found in any pharmacy or drugstore. It has a strong antibacterial effect, as well as an effect against the fungus that causes seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff [ref.2].
According to some studies, the addition of a few drops of oil to shampoo can significantly reduce dandruff, oiliness and itching.
It is good to keep in mind that it is not advisable to apply tea tree oil undiluted directly to the skin, as it can cause irritation or allergic reaction. It is always added to something to dilute it, for example, harmless oil, such as sesame, almond oil or something simillar.
Aloe vera alleviates irritation
The gel from the leaves of Aloe vera has an anti-inflammatory effect, accelerates wound healing and has an influence on fungi inducing seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff.
According to a 2017 study [ref.3], applying aloe vera gel to inflamed areas in sesborrheic dermatitis (one of the causes of dandruff), has a positive effect and soothes inflammation.
Believe it or not - Aspirin
In some of the shampoos against dandruff acetylsalicylic acid or better known as Aspirin, is not coincidentally present.
Aspirin facilitates the fall of dead skin particles, and so they are removed more easily and quickly from the scalp. [ref.4]
At home, Aspirin can be applied by breaking 1-2 tablets and adding the powder to your shampoo.
Baking soda - another unexpected remedy
Baking soda has an antibacterial, antimycotic [ref.5] and anti-inflammatory effect and acts as an exfoliant, helping to remove dead skin.
To combat dandruff, baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) can be used this way several times a week: wet your hair, gently rub baking soda on the scalp and leave it for a few minutes to stay, then wash off. The effect can manifest itself after a few weeks of application.
Omega-3 fatty acids against dandruff and scaly skin
Omega-3 fatty acids have many proven health benefits for various organs and systems, including the skin. They also have anti-inflammatory effect. Omega-3 deficiency can lead to dry, flaky skin and dandruff.
In addition to supplements, omega-3 fatty acids can be provided with food. A rich source are oily fish - salmon, mackerel, trout, and plant products - flaxseed, walnuts, chia.
Vitamin B, zinc and selenium - for healthy skin
Vitamin B6, B12, folate (B9), biotin (B7), zinc and selenium are important for skin health. They can also be supplied in the form of additives or with food. It is important to keep in mind that an overdose of zinc or selenium is dangerous for health and it is not a good idea to mix several supplements that contain them.
Foods rich in vitamin B are meat, fish, whole grains, eggs, avocados, citrus fruits, legumes.
Zinc-rich foods are beef, chicken, tofu, pork, nuts, seeds, lentils, yogurt, oatmeal and mushrooms (shiitake).
Rich in selenium are Brazil nuts, tuna, pork, beef, chicken, tofu, wholegrain macaroni, shrimp and mushrooms. [ref.6]