Dandruff is a common condition that causes the skin on the scalp to flake. While dandruff is not contagious, it can be embarrassing and difficult to treat. After all, few things are more disappointing than wearing a great outfit only to look at your shoulders and spot white flakes.
No matter your hair texture, the root causes of dandruff are the same. Dandruff is considered to be a mild form of seborrheic dermatitis, which is a skin condition that can cause red skin and itchiness. Curly, coily, and tight-texture hair can sometimes be dry. Therefore, we must walk a fine line between moisture and too much oil that can turn a greasy scalp into a dry, irritated one. So the question is, how to get rid of dandruff?
How do I get rid of dandruff fast?
As you look to treat dandruff, it's important to understand that there is no 'cure' for dandruff. Dermatologists at The Mayo Clinic report that itching and flaking can, however, be controlled. Dandruff is a recurring condition that can be treated with the following:
1. Cleansing with a gentle, daily shampoo to reduce oily and skin cell build-up
2. Medicated shampoo
Like with most hair care, treating dandruff is a process of trial and error to find the hair care routine that works for you. Over-the-counter products geared towards moisture and fighting dandruff flakes like dandruff shampoo (or anti-dandruff shampoo) can be easily tried, and if no progress is made, seeing a dermatologist is best.
What is the main cause of dandruff?
Dandruff in all hair patterns has several causes:
- Irritated, oily skin
- Not shampooing enough
A yeast-like fungus, known as Malassezia, that feeds on oils on the scalps of most adults
- Dry skin
- Sensitivity to hair care products, also known as contact dermatitis
- Psoriasis and eczema, or other skin conditioners
Of these, the three most popular causes of dander are:
- The naturally occurring yeast like Malassesia
- Scalp oils
- A scalp that’s sensitive to the microbe
Malassezia breaks down the scalp's natural oils into irritants that trigger scalp irritation through dandruff flaking and itch.
Curly hair can become dryer faster resulting in a dry scalp, and cry out for hydration. However, using deeply moisturizing products along with a regular scalp cleansing routine (aka shampooing once a week) can revive hair to be healthy and balanced once again.
How to get rid of dandruff
Ongoing treatment of dandruff is the only way to keep dandruff formation from ruining your styles and your strands.
According to The Mayo Clinic, medicated dandruff shampoos can be both available over the counter and through a doctor's prescription. They are:
- Pyrithione zinc shampoos (DermaZinc, Head & Shoulders, Jason Dandruff Relief 2 in 1). These contain the antibacterial and antifungal agent zinc pyrithione.
Tar-based shampoos (Neutrogena T/Gel). Coal tar slows how quickly dead skin cells on your scalp die and flake off. If you have light-colored hair, this type of shampoo may cause discoloration. It can also make the scalp more sensitive to sunlight.
- Shampoos containing salicylic acid (Neutrogena T/Sal, Baker's P & S, others). These products help eliminate scale.
- Selenium sulfide shampoos (Head & Shoulders Intensive, Selsun Blue, others). These contain an antifungal agent. Use these products as directed and rinse well after shampooing, as they can discolor the hair and scalp.
- Ketoconazole shampoos (Nizoral A-D). This shampoo is intended to kill dandruff-causing fungi that live on your scalp. It's available over-the-counter or by prescription.
The best ways to get rid of dandruff in curly hair:
Many in the natural hair community prefer a natural remedy or alternative medicine for dandruff treatment. Consider the following:
1. Coconut Oil for scalp moisture
2. Tea Tree Oil which has been used as an antiseptic, antibiotic and antifungal agent
3. Scalp Serum to soothe, cool, and calm your roots with peppermint, rosemary, and lavender.
Protective styles are great for addressing dandruff head-on, as they allow you to both treat the scalp as well as easily cleanse styling product build-up.
Can you wash away dandruff?
Controlling dandruff can be as simple as finding a hydrating, anti-dandruff shampoo regimen that works for you. While shampooing won't simply wash the dandruff away, it will, over time, reduce the oil and skin buildup that causes dandruff. Scalp exfoliation can also be beneficial.
Between washes, consider using leave-in treatments with anti-dandruff ingredients that nourish your hair and scalp like an anti dandruff conditioner. They fight the causes of flaking and itch without wrecking your style, better than ordinary oils or creams.
Keep your scalp moisturized with scalp serums, steamers, and deep conditioning treatments to avoid drying out your hair. And try hard not to scratch. Scratching can inflame already irritated skin and lead to increased dandruff flakes.
If you have tried these tips and still find yourself fighting flakes, it's time to see a dermatologist to get to the root of the issue.