How To Get Rid Of Dandruff Naturally

Over 50% of the world population has dandruff, and that is over 3.6 billion people. If you are one of them, these remedies should help. *

Medically reviewed by Dr. Jyoti Gupta, Dermatologist
by Atulya Satishkumar

Dandruff is a common, chronic skin condition that is characterized by a flaky scalp. There are a lot of medical and commercially available products that can help treat mild dandruff. However, serious cases of dandruff need specialized medicated shampoos or prescription drugs to treat an underlying skin disorder.

In most cases, dandruff can be controlled. But before starting treatment, you must be aware of what causes dandruff. In this post, we will discuss the causes, symptoms, and natural treatment methods to manage dandruff.

What Causes Dandruff?

Dandruff is a commonly observed skin condition of the scalp. Here are a few of the causes of dandruff:

  • Oily Skin Or Seborrheic Dermatitis

This is one of the more common causes of dandruff. It is characterized by an inflammation of the skin, i.e., redness of the skin, covered with flakes or scales (1). This condition usually affects areas rich in oil glands. In some cases, it may be caused by a proliferation of Malassezia. Dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis may also be a result of a vitamin-deficient (vitamins B6 and B12) diet.

  • Malassezia

Malassezia is a species of yeast-like fungus that can cause infection and skin inflammation (2). This can make skin cells dry and flaky, thereby increasing the appearance of dandruff.

  • Dry Skin

This is the most obvious cause of dandruff. Dry skin causes flakes to form that eventually become dandruff (3). Typically, these flakes are smaller and less oily than those caused by other ways.

Dandruff can also be an indication of an underlying skin condition. In such cases, you must go for immediate treatment. Let us discuss the signs of dandruff.

Signs Of Dandruff

Dandruff can manifest itself in different forms. Typically, dandruff appears as dry flakes on your scalp and forehead. These flakes can occur on your eyebrows and the beard and mustache of men.

Dandruff can make your scalp itchy and give your skin a scaly and crusty appearance. In infants, this condition takes form as ‘cradle cap,’ which is the appearance of a dry and crusty scalp and forehead (4).

In the next section, we will discuss the medical treatment options for dandruff.

Medical Treatment Of Dandruff

There are a lot of commercially available medical options that can help treat dandruff. There are broadly three categories of such products that can be used to treat flaky skin. These include:

  • Antifungal Agents: These agents help eliminate any fungal infection on your scalp or forehead that gives rise to dandruff or flaky skin. Typically, antifungal agents contain zinc pyrithione and selenium sulfide, which can help eliminate fungal infection proliferated by Malassezia furfur yeast (5).
  • Flake-removing Agents: These agents exhibit keratolytic activity through which corneocytes (clumps of flaky skin) are loosened and washed away (6). Agents like salicylic acid and sulfur may be used for this purpose.
  • Anti-inflammatory Agents: Topical steroids that are available on prescription, like corticosteroids (such as desonide hydrogel 0.05%) can have an anti-inflammatory effect on the infection causing seborrheic dermatitis and help reduce the flaky appearance of the skin (7).

If you notice these signs, it is time to start treatment. While medical treatments can help, home remedies can offer additional relief.

Natural Ways To Minimize Dandruff

1. Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil h antifungal properties (8). It can be used topically on your skin or scalp to mitigate any fungal infection that leads to flaky skin and dandruff.

You Will Need
  • 2-3 drops of tea tree oil
  • 2-3 drops of sweet almond or jojoba oil
What You Have To Do
  1. Mix a few drops of tea tree oil with sweet almond or jojoba oil.
  2. Dab a few drops of this mixture on a cotton pad and apply it to the scalp.
How Often You Should Do This

Repeat 3-4 times a week.

Note: Tea tree oil can cause skin irritation in some people. Hence, do a patch test. Avoid this remedy if you are allergic to it.

2. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil may combat fungal infections that can cause Malassezia (9). This, in turn, may reduce the occurrence of dandruff and flaky skin.

You Will Need

2 tablespoons of coconut oil

What You Have To Do
  1. Massage the coconut oil into your scalp.
  2. Leave it on for about an hour before you wash it off with a mild shampoo.
How Often You Should Do This

Repeat this 2 times a week.

3. Onion Juice

Research has shown that onions are rich in phytochemical compounds that can help combat dandruff. Their topical application can help eliminate the flaking of skin and reduce the occurrence of dandruff (10).

You Will Need
  • ½ onion
What You Have To Do
  1. Blend an onion to extract its juice.
  2. Strain it and apply generously to your scalp.
  3. Leave it on for an hour and wash it off.
How Often You Should Do This

You can apply this juice to your scalp 2 times a week.

4. Aloe Vera

Aloe vera is a rich source of bioactive compounds that can be used to treat skin disorders. Extracts of aloe vera exhibit antifungal and antimicrobial properties that can help fight any fungal infection, including that causing dandruff (11).

You Will Need

Aloe vera gel

What You Have To Do
  1. Massage some aloe vera gel into your scalp.
  2. Massage in circular motions, ensuring the gel is absorbed into the scalp.
  3. Wash off after 1 hour.
How Often You Should Do This

You can apply the gel at least 2 times a week.

5. Probiotics

Probiotic foods, such as yogurt, contain Lactobacillus paracasei that can help reduce dandruff (12). Research shows that Lactobacillus paracasei can help restore the normal balance of your scalp’s microbiome, thereby eliminating dandruff.

You Will Need

1 cup of probiotic yogurt

What You Have To Do

Consume a cup of probiotic yogurt.

How Often You Should Do This

Do this every day.

6. Lemongrass Oil

Lemongrass oil is rich in bioactive compounds that exhibit antifungal properties (13). This property can help combat Malassezia furfur, a type of yeast that can cause dandruff.

You Will Need

2-3 drops of lemongrass oil

What You Have To Do
  1. Add a few drops of lemongrass oil to your shampoo and massage generously into your scalp.
  2. Wash off thoroughly with plain water.
How Often You Should Do This

Wash your hair with lemongrass oil 2 times a week.

Note: The topical application of lemongrass oil can cause an allergic reaction in some people. You should do a patch test on your skin before trying this remedy.

7. Eucalyptus Oil

A scalp that has low levels of ceramide may be susceptible to dandruff. Eucalyptus oil is rich in bioactive compounds that can increase the ceramide content of your scalp, thereby reducing dandruff (14).

You Will Need
  • 2-3 drops of eucalyptus oil
  • 2-3 drops of coconut oil
What You Have To Do
  1. Mix a few drops of eucalyptus oil with coconut oil.
  2. Apply this mixture to your scalp and leave it on for 30-45 minutes.
  3. Wash off thoroughly with plain water.
How Often You Should Do This

You can follow this remedy 2-3 times a week.

8. Garlic

The primary bioactive constituents of garlic are ajoene and allicin. Their antifungal properties may help alleviate the fungal infection that can cause dandruff (15).

You Will Need
  • A few cloves of garlic
  • ½ cup of olive oil
What You Have To Do
  1. Peel and crush the garlic cloves.
  2. Add the crushed garlic to a heated saucepan with olive oil.
  3. Heat the mixture for 5 minutes and strain.
  4. Allow it to cool down and apply it to your scalp.
  5. Leave it on for 30-45 minutes before rinsing with water.
How Often You Should Do This

You can apply this oil 2 times a week.

9. Neem Oil

Neem extracts are widely used to combat fungal infections (16). Their antifungal properties may help reduce flaking of skin and irritation.

You Will Need
  • 2-3 drops of neem oil
  • 2-3 drops of coconut oil
What You Have To Do
  1. Mix a few drops of neem oil with coconut oil.
  2. Massage the mixture into your scalp and leave it on for 30-45 minutes.
  3. Wash off thoroughly with plain water.
How Often You Should Do This

You can follow this remedy 2-3 times a week.

10. Baking Soda

Baking soda is commonly used as an antifungal agent (17). Hence, it may aid the treatment of dandruff.

You Will Need

2-3 tablespoons of baking soda

What You Have To Do
  1. Take a few tablespoons of baking soda and apply directly to wet hair.
  2. Leave it on for about 2 minutes and wash off thoroughly.
How Often You Should Do This

You can do this 2 times a week.

11. Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is known to be a rich source of citric acid. The natural pH of scalp is 5.5, and citric acid-based shampoos or agents can help keep the pH of your scalp balanced (18). This may, in turn, help reduce the appearance of dandruff on your scalp.

You Will Need
  • 2-3 tablespoons of freshly extracted lemon juice
  • Cotton ball
What You Have To Do
  1. Dab the lemon juice on a cotton ball and apply it to your scalp as a pre-shampoo treatment.
  2. Leave it on for about 5-10 minutes and wash off with a mild shampoo.
How Often You Should Do This

You can do this 2 times a week.

Note: Follow this remedy only if you are not allergic to lemon juice as it can cause a stinging sensation.

12. Green Tea

Research shows that green tea is rich in polyphenols and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) that exhibit an inhibitory effect on fungal infections (19). This may eliminate any infection that can give rise to dandruff.

You Will Need
  • 2-3 green tea bags
  • Warm water
What You Have To Do
  1. Soak 2-3 green tea bags in warm water and strain it after it cools down.
  2. Rinse your hair with this decoction and leave it in for about 10 minutes.
  3. Wash off with a mild shampoo.
How Often You Should Do This

You can do this 2 times a week for a couple of months.

13. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar exhibits powerful antibacterial properties (20). This may help reduce any skin infection that can cause dandruff.

You Will Need
  • 1 tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar (ACV)
  • 3 tablespoons water
What You Have To Do
  1. Mix a tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar with three tablespoons of water.
  2. Apply the solution to your scalp.
  3. Leave it on for a few minutes before washing it off with a shampoo.
How Often You Should Do This

You can do this 1-2 times a week.

Note: Make sure you dilute apple cider vinegar. If used undiluted, ACV can cause burns and skin irritation.

These natural remedies may help you get relief from dandruff. However, if your dandruff persists, you should consult a doctor right away.

Mentioned below are a few tips to prevent dandruff.

Prevention Tips

Dandruff is usually the direct result of dry scalp or skin. To prevent dandruff, you must:

  • Avoid washing your scalp very frequently as overusing commercially available shampoos can strip your scalp of natural moisture.
  • Use mild shampoos as harsh chemicals can disturb the pH of your scalp and cause dryness of scalp and skin.
  • Drink lots of water as this can keep you hydrated and help maintain the natural moisture balance of your skin and scalp.
  • Avoid using hair styling products, such as gels and sprays. These products cause build-ups and can aggravate dandruff.

Following these measures and natural remedies can help you control the issue. If you feel that dandruff persists, you must consult your dermatologist to determine the underlying skin condition and treat it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I wash my hair every day if I have dandruff?

Washing your hair every day can strip your scalp of the natural oils, making it dry. This can aggravate dandruff. Washing/shampooing your hair once every two days should be fine.

Can dandruff cause gray hair?

Dandruff is usually caused by scalp dryness. The graying of hair is attributed to a loss in hair pigmentation. It is not related to dandruff.

20 sources

Stylecraze has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

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