For anyone who has experienced dandruff, you know that it can be a pesky problem that doesn’t always resolve with just a medicated shampoo. Seborrheic dermatitis, more commonly known as dandruff when it occurs on your scalp, is a skin condition that presents with a red, itchy rash and flaky skin. Although the exact cause is unknown, it has been linked to a number of concerns including stress, an overgrowth of the yeast Pityrosporum ovale on the skin and cold, dry weather.
Luckily, there are natural treatment options that you can explore to help rid yourself of dandruff. Here are some evidence-based natural treatment options that may be worth exploring.
Tea Tree Oil Shampoo:
Tea tree oil is a well-known anti-fungal agent and it has been shown to be effective in killing various yeasts such as Pityrosporum ovale. This caused researchers to explore a tea tree infused shampoo scrub to be used once per day in cases of mild to moderate dandruff. In a single-blind, randomized-controlled, trial examining 126 individuals it was shown that a 5% tea tree oil infused shampoo used over the course of 4 weeks significantly improved markers of dandruff versus a placebo shampoo. Specifically, the total severity of dandruff including itchiness and greasiness scores were all significantly improved.
Honey is known for its natural anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties, often used as a topical agent in cases of skin infections and also as a topical beauty agent for general skin care. It turns out that there may be some application for dandruff as well.
One study examined the use of crude honey in 30 individuals with chronic dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis of the face or of the chest. All patients had scaling, itching and hair loss and they were asked to apply diluted crude honey (90% honey with a small amount of warm water) every other day to the lesions. Each application was rubbed in for 2-3 minutes and then let to sit for 3 hours before being rinsed off with warm water. These treatments showed significant improvements in flaking, itching and hair loss after 4 weeks. Moreover, every person that continued these honey applications once per week for 6 months found no relapse in symptoms, while 12 of the 15 people that stopped after the 4 weeks did relapse.
Topical aloe vera gel has shown benefits for dandruff over placebo application in areas of scaliness, itching and number of dandruff sites. In the same study, 58% of physicians and 62% of patients felt that the aloe vera gel improved the overall dandruff presentation, relative to only 15% of physicians and 25% of patients finding improvements with the placebo treatment.
Test tube research has shown that the active ingredient in cinnamon oil, known as cinnamic acid, can inhibit the growth of Pityrosporum ovale by up to 95%. Although it is a far stretch to say that cinnamon can cure dandruff based on this research and deductive reasoning, anecdotal evidence does exist for its use. Some people find benefit by mixing cinnamon together with olive oil and then applying this paste on the scalp once per week.
Anecdotally, apple cider vinegar or a baking soda rinse on the scalp have also shown benefits in treating dandruff. Perhaps these are effective by acting as anti-microbial agents or by altering the pH levels on the scalp. In any case, given the connection with Pityrosporum ovale and other potential microbial overgrowth, it is a safe bet to say that reducing refined sugar intake will have a beneficial impact on your dandruff control in combination with topical treatments.
Do you have a natural home remedy for dandruff that works wonders? Leave us a note and let us know!
Satchell AC et al. Treatment of dandruff with 5% tea tree oil shampoo J Am Acad Dermatol. 2002 Dec;47(6):852-5.
Al-Waili NS. Therapeutic and prophylactic effects of crude honey on chronic seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff. Eur J Med Res 2001;6:306-8
Baroni A et al. New strategies in dandruff treatment: growth control of Malessezia ovalis. Dermatology 2000; 201:332-6
Vardy DA et al. A double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of an aloe vera (A. Barbadensis) emulsion in the treatment of seborrheic dermatitis. J Dermatol Treat 1999;10:7-11