Dandruff is one of those conditions that serves as more of an annoyance than a physical ailment. You’ll definitely know if you have it (as evident by flakes on your clothing and pillowcase), but everything else surrounding the common scalp condition is a little less clear. While we don’t know exactly why dandruff occurs, in many people it is thought to be due to a mixture of genetics, allergies and sensitivities, and an imbalance of skin microbes at least, that’s the hypothesis.
Whatever the case, most who have it just want instant and permanent relief from the experience but it’s not so simple as prescribing a single treatment. Instead, the best course of action is regular care to prevent its return. The good news: It requires only a few steps that are easy to incorporate into your existing routine. Keep scrolling for the best expert tips for treating dandruff quickly.
Make Sure You Actually Have Dandruff
Before you begin treating dandruff, make sure it’s not one of two other possibilities.
It could be a dry scalp that has mild dryness, flakiness, and minor shedding which isn’t “true” dandruff. Your scalp condition will change over time, and many of us will notice a change with the seasons or with other factors in our environment. Often, you’ll notice this type of mild reaction occurs during seasonal changes or when you’re exposed to excess heat styling and you can soothe it by simply dialling back on the heat or switching to more hydrating formulas.
On the other side of the spectrum, you might have more extreme symptoms that point to an inflammatory skin condition known as seborrheic dermatitis. This is characterised by flaking, skin irritation, redness, and sometimes sores, whereas dandruff is usually painless. If you’re experiencing redness, sores, pain, or excessive itching, you need to book a dermatologist appointment. Unlike most cases of dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis cannot be treated using over-the-counter remedies and requires dermatologist care and prescriptions.
Use Antifungal Ingredients
Once you’ve verified that you actually have dandruff, head to your nearest drugstore and start reading those ingredients labels. Common ingredients like pyrithione zinc, ketoconazole and selenium disulfide are antifungal and have shown some good results in reducing dandruff. They’re an affordable addition to your in-shower arsenal.
Wash Your Hair Often
While your hygiene habits have no bearing on whether you develop dandruff or not, it’s important not to avoid washing your hair for fear of making the problem worse. People often think that over washing or too much heat from drying your hair causes dandruff but that is not true. Product buildup can often lead to dandruff so it’s important to wash your hair regularly, especially if you use hair styling products, leave-in conditioners, or dry shampoos.
So, how often is often enough? Well, that depends on your hair and scalp. If you have mild dandruff, we recommend you wash your hair daily until you have the dandruff under control. If you don’t use a lot of styling products, you can wash your hair less frequently. Either way, it’s important to use a specially-formulated dandruff shampoo whenever you do cleanse.
Make Time for Deep Treatments
We’d suggest regular deep treatments whether or not you have dandruff for the simple reason that they’re relaxing and always leave your hair looking and feeling better. But for those that have extra flaking and shedding, scalp oil treatments are a must.
Brush it Out
While you’re at it, make some time to brush your hair, too. It’s old-school, but it works to get rid of the scale. Brushing helps stimulate the scalp and brings more circulation to the area while also gently exfoliating cell buildup. In a pinch, brushing your hair can make a world of difference.
Turn to Essential Oils
Aside from smelling good, your favourite essential oils and botanical extracts can go a long way in soothing dandruff symptoms. Rosemary oil, lavender oil, and green tea extract all have great antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. The great thing about these ingredients is that they can be used long term, are gentle and can keep dandruff at bay.
Consider a Prescription
In some cases, dandruff may be extreme and persistent enough to warrant a dermatologist’s prescription (without classifying as seborrheic dermatitis). If nothing over the counter seems to work for you, you’ll want to visit a doctor’s office anyway. Once the symptoms improve, ask your doctor how to proceed. Some patients with more long-lasting dandruff use a medicated treatment once weekly to keep sebum levels down, alternating it with regular use of a dandruff-friendly shampoo.
Whether you’re fighting seasonal dandruff or are genetically predisposed for it, these steps will go a long way in helping you keep the dandruff at bay.