How to Get Rid of Dandruff: 5 Natural Treatments
Skip the dandruff shampoo and try these homemade dandruff treatments to banish those pesky white flakes.
How to get rid of dandruff
Noticing white flakes in your hair? It might be time to try some treatments for dandruff.
Dandruff may be the result of a dry scalp, or a skin condition called seborrheic dermatitis. Dandruff causes also include skin dryness or sensitivity to hair products, or, very commonly, an overgrowth of a yeastlike fungus called Malassezia.
In some cases, the flaking and itching could be symptoms of psoriasis or eczema, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
Drugstore dandruff remedies might include shampoos with zinc pyrithione, which targets fungus and bacteria; ketoconazole, which also fights fungus; coal tar and selenium sulfide, which slow the growth and die-off of skin cells on your scalp; and salicylic acid, which loosens flakes so they can be washed away.
And although there’s not tons of research on it, there are some natural dandruff remedies worth trying. Here’s what you need to know about how to get rid of dandruff using trusted at-home remedies.
(These are the best dandruff shampoos for your type of dandruff.)
Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil is a dandruff natural treatment worth trying because it contains the antimicrobial compound terpinen-4-ol, per the American Society of Microbiology.
The terpinen-4-ol compound in tea tree oil may prevent the growth of bacteria and fungi that can lead to dandruff, and help relieve dandruff symptoms.
One 2018 study in Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology comparing the scalp of 140 Indian women found that those with dandruff had more bacteria on their scalp than those without dandruff.
Another review on the effects of tea tree oil on eczema also suggests it fights fungus, according to the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology.
Other research specifically looked at 126 people with dandruff and tea tree oil shampoo. Researchers found that those who used the 5 percent tea tree oil shampoo for four weeks reduced the severity of their symptoms by 41 percent. Plus, they were less itchy and greasy.
You can add a few drops of tea tree oil to your favorite shampoo as you wash normally. (Here’s how to properly wash your hair.)
Your kitchen could hold the key to an itch-free, flake-free scalp. Some ingredients you use every day double as effective dandruff remedies—like baking soda. That’s because baking soda contains antifungal properties that may help with itching and skin irritation.
Although there’s no research specifically on dandruff and baking soda, a test-tube study on baking soda and fungus that cause skin irritation found that baking soda inhibited fungal growth in 79 percent of specimens after seven days.
Wet your hair and then rub a handful of baking soda vigorously into your scalp. Skip the shampoo and go right to rinsing. Your hair may get dried out at first, but after a few weeks, your scalp will start producing natural oils, leaving your hair softer and free of flakes.
Here is another one of the dandruff remedies you can find in the drug store: Aspirin. Although it’s not in the same aisle as dandruff shampoo, it contains the same active ingredient (salicylic acid) as many medicated dandruff shampoos. So it could help exfoliate the scalp and act as a natural dandruff treatment.
Keep flaking in check by crushing two aspirins to a fine powder and adding it to the normal amount of shampoo you use each time you wash your hair. Leave the mixture on your hair for one to two minutes, then rinse well and wash again with plain shampoo.
A small 2015 study found that people using a tonic containing 10 percent lemongrass oil showed an 81 percent dandruff reduction after two weeks. It’s thought to work in a similar way to tea tree oil as an antimicrobial dandruff remedy.
Since lemongrass oil may cause irritation, you should dilute it by adding a few drops to your shampoo.
You also need to learn about scalp psoriasis and what dermatologists wish you knew about the condition.
And a small study in the Italian Journal of Dermatology and Venereology found that a topical aloe vera gel was effective at treating seborrheic dermatitis on the face.
Now that you know these dandruff remedies, check out these other possible reasons for itchy scalp, besides dandruff.
- National Library of Medicine: "PubChem Compound Summary Asprin"
- American Academy of Dermatology: “Dandruff: How to treat”
- Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology: "Comparison of Healthy and Dandruff Scalp Microbiome Reveals the Role of Commensals in Scalp Health"
- American Journal of Clinical Dermatology: "Role of antifungal agents in the treatment of seborrheic dermatitis"
- Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology: "Treatment of dandruff with 5% tea tree oil shampoo"
- Mycopathologia: "Antifungal activity of sodium bicarbonate against fungal agents causing superficial infections"
- Complementary Medicine Research: "Anti-dandruff Hair Tonic Containing Lemongrass (Cymbopogon flexuosus) Oil"
- BioMed Research International: "The Review on Properties of Aloe Vera in Healing of Cutaneous Wounds"
- Italian Journal of Dermatology and Venereology: "A novel cosmetic antifungal/anti-inflammatory topical gel for the treatment of mild to moderate seborrheic dermatitis of the face: an open-label trial utilizing clinical evaluation and erythema-directed digital photography"