Dandruff is a fairly common chronic condition of the scalp which is characterized by flaking skin on the scalp. If you suffer from dandruff, there is typically nothing much to worry about; it is rarely a serious condition but it can be difficult to treat completely and is often embarrassing.
There are numerous ways that you can try treating dandruff; for some people you may only need to shampoo a little more often while some people respond well to medicated shampoo products. If you would prefer to steer clear of medications, this article will inform you about a more natural and gentle treatment in the shape of essential oils.
The symptoms of Dandruff
It is generally not very difficult to spot the signs of dandruff; you will have white flakes of skin dotting your hair and your shoulders while you may also have an itchy and scaly scalp. For some people, the condition gets worse during the winter and fall months because central heating can exacerbate the dryness of the skin. It is not only teenagers and adults that get dandruff; babies can be affected by a condition known as cradle cap. Fortunately cradle cap is harmless and generally clears up before the child turns three.
What causes Dandruff?
There are several different causes of dandruff which include the following:
- Dry skin: One of the most common reasons for dandruff is dry skin. If you have dandruff caused by dry skin, the characteristic flakes tend to be smaller and dryer than those caused by other types of dandruff. People with dandruff caused by dry skin are usually affected elsewhere on their body too.
- Seborrheic dermatitis: This is another common cause of dandruff but unlike dry skin this type of dandruff is due to excessively oily skin and is characterized by red, oily skin covered with flaky scales. Seborrheic dermatitis can affect the skin pretty much everywhere on your body where you have a lot of oil glands like the eyebrows, armpits and groin region.
- Not shampooing the hair sufficiently often: For some people, simply washing their hair more often (at least once a day) may be all that is needed to get rid of dandruff. Not washing regularly means that skin cells and oils can accumulate on the scalp leading to dandruff.
- Fungus: A yeast type of fungus called malassezia lives on most adult scalps and generally does not cause any problem. For some people however, the fungus can cause scalp irritation which stimulates the growth of new cells. Excess skin cells then die before falling off which gives the white flaky appearance of dandruff in the hair and clothing.
- Contact Dermatitis: Some people are sensitive to the ingredients contained in certain hair products, which leads to a reaction. This adverse reaction can include itchiness, redness and scaling of the scalp. Hair dyes, certain chemicals and even shampooing too regularly might irritate the scalp sufficiently to cause dandruff. If you know that a product is causing a reaction, stop using it immediately.
The best essential oils to treat your dandruff
Many essential oils contain very similar therapeutic properties which are great for the skin and the hair. We have already published an article about the best essential oils for the hair which you can read here.
This list is not exhaustive and you may have had success with another essential oil but the following essential oils have had proven success in keeping dandruff under control. Unlike medicinal dandruff products, they are far more gentle on the skin and when used correctly are completely safe.
You can combine any of these oils in equal measures or use just one of them but be sure to dilute them first with a good base oil; coconut, jojoba and apricot kernel are all great choices for the hair and scalp.
1. Rosemary essential oil
Rosemary essential oil is considered to be one of the very best essential oils for eliminating dandruff. It contains antibacterial and antifungal compounds which can treat the dandruff and restore balance to your scalp.
You can add a few drops of eucalyptus oil to your regular shampoo or massage it into your hair and scalp separately. One treatment method is to dilute a few drops of rosemary oil with virgin coconut oil and massage it into your scalp. Allow it to work on your scalp overnight and then wash it out the following morning.
2. Lavender essential oil
Lavender essential oil is one of the most diverse and popular of all the oils; its list of therapeutic benefits is seemingly endless and it can work wonders on your dandruff.
Even though lavender oil is considered to be the mildest essential oil, it is still important to dilute it with a carrier oil before applying it to your scalp.
Once diluted, massage it gently into your scalp, cover your head with a warm towel and allow it to work its magic for at least 30 minutes before rinsing it out with water or a mild shampoo. Repeat the process daily for as long as necessary.
3. Tea tree essential oil
Tea tree essential oil is already added as an ingredient in many commercial hair care products and dandruff preparations. Tea tree oil is a very powerful natural antibacterial and it also has excellent anti-inflammatory and antifungal compounds making it an excellent choice for dandruff whatever the cause of your condition.
It can help combat the flaking skin, keep your scalp and hair well-moisturized and relieve any scalp irritation that you may be suffering from. You can use it in exactly the same way as the other essential oils mentioned but be sure to dilute it well because it is one of the more powerful essential oils.
4. Peppermint essential oil
Peppermint essential oil is not only a great oil to combat your dandruff but its cooling properties are also known to help stimulate hair growth which is something that people my age can appreciate.
It may be best to combine your peppermint oil with another oil or more than one as well as making sure it is diluted with a carrier oil or shampoo before using it. It is an excellent antibacterial oil which combats dandruff and relieves irritation on the scalp.
5. Eucalyptus essential oil
Eucalyptus oil contains antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties making it yet another excellent choice for skin, hair and scalp issues and the ideal choice either alone or in combination with other oils for dandruff. Eucalyptus oil is an ingredient in many hair care products and you can either massage it into the scalp or add it to your regular shampoo.
6. Lemon essential oil
Lemon essential oil is also considered to be an excellent remedy for dandruff. You should be careful however as the citrus essential oils are known to cause photosensitivity and you should make sure that you do not expose yourself to direct sunlight after applying it to your skin or scalp. Make sure that you rinse it off thoroughly after allowing it to work on your scalp for 30 or so minutes.
7. Roman chamomile essential oil
Roman chamomile oil is an excellent choice to combat your dandruff and relieve your itching scalp. It contains antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties ideal for treating your condition. Either combine this oil with another essential oil or simply dilute it with a carrier oil and massage it into the scalp daily.
8. Other essential oils
Sandalwood, clary sage, bergamot and cedarwood essential oils also contain all the right therapeutic properties to effectively treat dandruff and keep your scalp healthy.
A good dandruff recipe
This is an effective dandruff recipe that you could consider using or adapting to suit your needs:
• 3 drops of lavender oil
• 5 drops of lemon oil
• 2 drops of rosemary oil
• 2 drops of peppermint oil
- Dilute this combination of oils to at least a 1 to 1 ratio with a carrier oil like coconut or apricot kernel oil.
- Massage a teaspoon of this mixture into your scalp thoroughly for a few minutes then rinse it out with water.
- Alternatively you can dilute 5 or 6 drops of your chosen oils with around 20 drops of your chosen base oil.
- Massage the mixture into the scalp before bed and leave it on overnight before rinsing it out the following morning.
Some more natural remedies for dandruff can be found here.