The flakiness, itching, and dryness signal to you that you have the dreaded dandruff. Some estimate that about half of the world’s population had dandruff at some point in their life. This was a surprising statistic to me.
By now, it is clear that we don’t hate to see those flaky particles on our shoulders and hair because it is a painful ailment. No. we hate them it is embarrassing to have them at the most inappropriate times. Many people often believe that only unclean people have dandruff which is not true. It can grow on any scalp irrespective of gender, cleanliness, or health.
I have had my fair share of dandruff problems until I decided to do whatever it takes for a permanent solution. Through my journey of trial and error, I was able to identify some natural items (as you know I always prefer the natural option) that are common in Nigeria. So let us explore the problem and the lasting solution.
What is dandruff?
The most common dandruff that we experience is from a yeast-like fungus called Malassezia globosa or from a mild form of “Seborrheic Dermatitis”. Simply put, Malassezia yeast is harmless and commonly found on our skin. It feeds on the sebum that is naturally secreted on our scalp. By feeding on the sebum, it produces omega-9 fatty acid which irritates the scalp. Therefore, the scalp tries to get rid of this irritation by renewing the skin cells more rapidly. These excess skin cells clump together and flake off the scalp as dandruff.
There you have it. The cause and the formation of the stubborn dandruff revealed as simply as I can.
Causes of dandruff
The accurate cause of dandruff are not clear but many believe that the following play a factor in its appearance:
- Sensitivity to hair care products
- Irritated, oily skin
- Not washing your hair for long periods can boost the growth of the yeast
Symptoms of dandruff
Dandruff known for its dryness tends to flare/worsen during cold seasons, dry seasons, increased stress levels in the body, etc. Its typical symptoms are:
- Itchy scalp
- Flaky particles in the hair, scalp, eyebrows, beard etc.
- Scaly or crusty scalp
It is interesting to learn on Mayoclinic that dandruff is not limited to the scalp but can be found in eyebrows and beards. This is something I think we tend to forget. they also claimed that men are more likely to have dandruff than women. Another interesting claim. What do you think of these?
Home remedies for dandruff
At best, dandruff is embarrassing and annoying and at worst, it can be inflammatory, itchy, and cause much discomfort. Finding a lasting solution to dandruff doesn’t have to break the bank or be difficult. We have countless shampoos, creams, and other products that are touted to be the one solution we need to say goodbye to this fungal growth however, most of them are not as effective as they portray in their advertisements. We have all had that experience.
Below are Simple, cheap, and easy options for you to choose according to what is most suitable and convenient for you. I have tried many other home remedies and some shampoos in my struggle against dandruff but these are the ones that have solved the problem or helped me in combatting it forever. Let us dive in:
One of the most common plants found in Africa is the Neem plant. One cannot speak enough on the uses and importance of this plant. So today we will only be using it for dandruff. In particular, we will be using the leaves. Neem is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-microbial which makes it ideal for dandruff.
How to use
You can use either fresh leaves or the powdered leaves.
- Make an adequate paste of the powdered neem leaves with water and some lemon juice if you wish. just enough to make it moist and sticky. For fresh leaves, pound/blend an adequate amount for your scalp into paste.
- Massage the mixture into your scalp
- Leave for about 20-30 minutes
- Rinse off and dry your hair
Alternatively, using the neem water extract:
- Boil 2 hands full leaves In just enough water to rinse your scalp or 2 tablespoons of the powder.
- After it boils once, turnoff the heat
- Allow it to cool down until it is just warm to the touch
- Massage it into your head and do not rinse. Let it dry by itself or you can dry it with a towel just until it is not dripping down your face
- Or pour it into your spray bottle and dampen your hair with it about three times a week.
- Keep the neem water refrigerated to prevent it from going bad
Where to get neem leaves in Nigeria
- Fresh leaves: By the road-side as I am sure you see this plant all the time in Nigeria
- Powdered leaves: at the local herbal market
We usually know this as a pharmaceutical drug mostly used for pain, fever or inflammation but today we are going to be using it differently. We included aspirin in our remedies because it contains salicylic acid which effective against the yeast-like fungus of dandruff. It is also added in some anti-dandruff shampoos.
How to use:
- Crush two tablets of uncoated Aspirin and add them to your shampoo or if you are not using one, mix it with water and massage it into your scalp. Leave for about 10-20 minutes and rinse. Style your hair as usual.
Tea tree is often recommended for people with dandruff because of its proven effectiveness. But in Nigeria, we usually import tea tree oil and most of the time, you cannot find it in the market and if you do, it might be too expensive for you. If you can get and afford tea tree oil, more power to you. go ahead and try it.
As for the rest of us, Nigerian substitute which has similar performance against fungus and is easier to get. The Neem oil. Neem oil in Nigeria is underappreciated and relatively unknown for its uses among the general public even though it is a powerful oil.
While we are using these remedies to wash and spray our hair, to hasten the departure time for the dandruff, we are going to need neem oil (or other anti-fungal oils) so that with the combination of the washes and rinses and this oil, dandruff has nowhere to go but away. A combination of both applications can rid you of dandruff in 2-3 weeks. Yes, thats right! Hooray! (pardon my excitement haha)
Where to get it in Nigeria:
- In health stores and natural products stores
- In stores/shops that sell natural oils
Using baking soda for dandruff is not really the best option simply because it can cause an allergic reaction of extreme itching on the scalp for some. and if you are not careful you might hurt yourself. This is because, baking soda by itself is a strong acid that if used carelessly, it can burn you literally and damage your scalp so be careful when using this remedy. Nevertheless, it worked for some and is a good option for clearing dandruff..
Despite the caution that one must take while using baking soda, baking soda exfoliates dead skin on the scalp and has anti-fungal properties. As mentioned earlier, the dead skin cells are one of the Major issues of dandruff. In other words, it can be the solution you have been looking for!
How to use:
- Mix a teaspoon of baking soda with water about half a liter.* you can dilute it further if it is too concentrated for you.
- Massage the mixture into your scalp (whether you have braids or not).
- Leave for 10 minutes then rinse and condition your hair as baking soda can really cause dryness as it strips the hair of its natural oils.
- Repeat about twice a week (not more than that) or even once a week and notice your results.
Where to buy:
- In the supermarket
- Places where they sell baking items
The best remedy that I have used for dandruff is: *drum roll*
Apple cider vinegar
Just like coconut oil, apple vinegar has a wide range of uses from food, skincare, medicine, insecticide, etc. One thing I can add is that it Is very effective for dandruff. When I first started using it, I was not expecting much as I was in my trial and error phase of the dandruff elimination journey. I didn’t even stick to the regimen as I should. About 2 weeks after I started using it for dandruff, I was very surprised to find so little flakiness or itching on my hair. That was when I knew that I have found the real thing.
How to use:
- Mix apple vinegar with water in the ratio of 1:3. you can further dilute it if your skin/scalp is sensitive to it. you will know this if you can feel tingling on your scalp/skin. There are two ways of applying it which are while washing your hair and in-between hair washes. It is important that you know what concentration of the apple vinegar mix works best for you else, if it is too diluted, it will not be effective.
- After you finished washing your hair, rinse your hair with the vinegar/water mix. But first test it and if the mixture is too strong for your scalp that it feels like it is burning, add some more water not too much to the mixture and test it again until you stop feeling any stinging.
- Rinse your hair with the vinegar mix. Make sure everywhere on you scalp is included in the rinse. Massage it well into the scalp and you are done
- Dry your hair and style it as you will usually do.
As for the treatment between hair washes,
- make a vinegar/water mix as you did with the one in the shower. And store it in a bottle for no longer than a week. Rinse your scalp not the hair with the apple vinegar mix and towel dry your hair. you can just let your hair air-dry also.
- You can also put the vinegar/water mix into a spray bottle and spritz some on your scalp. the spray bottle can be bought or recycled from other bottles you have at home. Spray just enough that your scalp is damp with the vinegar before it starts rolling off your scalp.
- Use it at least 3 times a week. that will be every other day. Every day will be very good if you can.
*Note: I will recommend that you use the apple vinegar during the hair washing method and while your hair is styled between washes method. Using both methods will hasten in clearing the dandruff.
Continue with this process for about 2-4 weeks and see for your self!
- close your eyes while rinsing your hair both in the shower and between hair washes as the vinegar will irritate your eyes.
- Remember to complete this regimen until all the dandruff is gone or else if you stop while it remains a little left, it will re-populate on your scalp and you are back to square one. Take note!
Generally, from my experience, I learnt that when treating dandruff it is important that you take quick and consistent action because the fungus grows fast and can be very stubborn. A very committed and rigorous 2-weeks treatment of dandruff is better than a 1-month relaxed one.
Where to buy Apple vinegar in Nigeria:
- In the supermarket
- In health shops
- In big shops in the market where they sell baking stuff or where they sell general household items such as tissues, butter, etc.
*Note: Remember to but the raw unfiltered Apple vinegar as it is more effective than just a refined Apple vinegar where many of its properties have been lost. But buy whatever one you available if that was all you could get.
Common questions on dandruff
- Is there a difference between dandruff on men and women
- No. they are all the same. What will work for women to clear their dandruff will also work for men with dandruff. In fact, it is easier for men to clear their dandruff because their hair is usually shorter.
- Can you pass dandruff to another person?
- While some say that it is not communicable, I believe that it is based on my experience. I noticed that people pass dandruff through sharing items with someone that has dandruff such as combs, head wraps etc.
- Does dandruff cause hair fall/balding?
- No. As much as I know, dandruff doesn’t cause hair fall or balding. Hair fall and balding are a whole different topic altogether but dandruff to my knowledge is not a factor. Maybe one can say that it can impede hair growth and is detrimental to a healthy scalp.
- If I just wash my hair regularly will my hair dandruff go away on its own?
- No. I am afraid the dandruff will not go away on its own without treatment. Washing your hair regularly will only reduce the amount of skin cell being produced as explained above but not the dandruff growth itself.
- Do DIY protein hair mask cause/boost dandruff growth?
- I do not have much evidence for this but there is a likely hood that yes DIY protein hair masks might increase your dandruff or introduce dandruff to your hair based on some testimonials that I have heard from people.
For you to have an effective solution that will banish dandruff from your head, that remedy must have aan antifungal/anti-yeast property as they are the main cause of dandruff growth. This can be a natural product, a food item, oil, hair cream etc.
From my understanding of dandruff, whatever remedy we pick either from the recommended remedies (which are all anti-fungal) or it is from your own knowledge, remember that it must be anti-fungal at the very least or it will not be very effective for it.
Other options people use are shampoos and hair creams especially the hair creams that contain sulphur such as dematol, the ever-popular soul mate cream, etc . I know some of the recommended remedies do not have the best smell but remember, you can use them to get rid of dandruff forever, and then you do not have to go through this ever again. So try and be patient.
A holistic approach is needed for a more permanent solution or else it will comeback and continue to live comfortably on your head (may that never be). So take care of your environment, your diet and general health and I believe you can have the permanent solution that we are all vying for. Good luck!
Share with us in the comments below your experience with dandruff and your recommendations. If you have tried any of the mentioned remedies before, be sure to let us know how they helped/didn’t help you.
I hope you learnt something from this post that will be the final nail in the dandruff’s coffin. Thank you for stopping by. Kindly rate this article down below so that we can know how to serve you best.
Bye for now!