The term dandruff generally refers to the condition of the skin wherein shiny, silvery scales separate from the scalp and collect in the hair. The condition can become troublesome when the skin gets infected. In Ayurveda, dandruff is called darunak.
Ayurveda and Dandruff
According to Ayurveda, darunak or dandruff is categorized as a Shudra Roga, one which is caused by an imbalance of all three doshas (Ayurvedic biohumors). The primary doshas that cause this problem are Kapha and Vata. While Kapha represents softness and stickiness, Vata can be dry and rough. In an aggravated state, Vata-Kapha cause impurities to accumulate in the deep tissues of the scalp leading to this issue which is dry and sticky in nature. Contamination of the deep tissues and heightened Vata-Kapha causes the scalp to shed a higher amount of dead epidermal cells than is normal, which is dandruff.
Symptoms of Dandruff
The scalp forms skin cells on a continual basis, therefore the shedding of dead skin cells is also a natural process. In the case of dandruff, the skin cells shed at a faster rate than usual.
When the hair is combed or brushed, or when the scalp is scratched, the scales from the scalp fall like snowflakes and settle on the eyebrows, shoulders and clothes. These scales sometimes appear as lumps or crusts on the scalp. Often there is itching as well and the scalp may become red from scratching.
Cradle cap is a type of dandruff that affects babies. Common in newborns, this problem results in a crusty scalp and can happen at any point during infancy. Though parents may be quite upsets by the unsightly appearance, cradle cap isn’t all that dangerous and usually clears up on its own in due course.
Causes of Dandruff
The main causes of dandruff are impairment of general health, impurities of blood, development of a toxic condition mainly due to eating the wrong foods, constipation and low vitality due to infectious diseases. Other factors contributing to this disorder are emotional stress, harsh hair products (contact dermatitis), exposure to cold and general exhaustion.
When yeast tends to grow in excessive amounts, it can cause dandruff to thrive. This increase in growth could be caused by stress, hormonal imbalance, an excessively oily/dirty scalp or issues with the immune system.
Skin conditions such as psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis or eczema are primarily responsible for dandruff.
Risk Factors of Dandruff
While almost anyone at all can be plagued by dandruff, there are certain actors which put you at greater risk.
- Age: The hormonal changes and oiliness of the scalp which are characteristic of young adulthood can make one more susceptible to dandruff at the time. This doesn’t mean that older adults cannot suffer from this condition. For some, this can be a lifelong battle.
- Being male: Studies show that the dandruff problem seems to be exacerbated in males which leads researchers to believe that male hormones have a role to play.
- Oily hair and scalp: The yeast-like fungus malassezia which lies on the scalps of most adults feeds on the scalp oils. This is why those with extremely oily skin and hair have a greater tendency to dandruff as the yeast fids a conducive environment to multiply in.
- Certain health issues: While it is not entirely clear why, adults with neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s disease have a higher risk of developing seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff. Similarly, those with an HIV infection or with compromised immune systems from other conditions are also prone to dandruff.
- Season: During autumn-winter when the scalp is really dry, the problem may be worsened and then, improve in summer.
- Nutritional deficiencies: Dandruff can easily proliferate when there is a deficiency of B-complex vitamins or omega-3 fatty acids and other such vitamins.
Home Remedies to Prevent Dandruff
- Dandruff can be removed by massaging the hair for half an hour with curd which has been kept in the open for three days.
- Massage the scalp with a few drops of lime juice mixed with amla juice every night before going to bed as one of the effective home remedies to prevent dandruff.
- A natural dandruff treatment is to dilute apple cider vinegar with an equal quantity of water and dab this on the hair with cotton wool before washing hair. Apple cider vinegar added to the final rinsing water after shampooing also makes dandruff disappear.
- Make an herbal hair pack by mixing henna powder, curd and reetha powder and apply on the head. Keep it for half an hour and wash off with an herbal lime based shampoo for dandruff. Lime is good for dandruff as well as conditioner. Henna is a great alternative to artificial hair colors that can result in dry scalp and dandruff.
- Mix one tablespoon of baking soda to a cup of warm water. Optionally, add a few drops of rosemary essential oil to the water. Rinse your hair and scalp with this solution. Your hair may seem very dry at first but it is the best treatment for dandruff as it balances your scalp’s pH while purifying it. Condition with a spritz of coconut oil mixed with water in place of a hair spray to moisturize.
- Antibacterial and antifungal essential oils like tea tree, cedarwood, clary sage, rosemary, thyme, lemongrass and chamomile can be added to a base oil like coconut oil. Coconut oil is rich in fatty acids to balance your scalp’s moisture levels and is great at banishing fungal and bacterial growth.
- Essential oils can also be added to a base of organic aloe gel and/or honey and applied to the hair and scalp as a clarifying and conditioning mask. This is among the top home remedies for dandruff and itchy scalp.
- If you have an oily scalp, a beneficial dandruff remover mask can be made with multani mitti (Fuller’s Earth), lemon peel powder orange peel powder. You can also mix in a few essential oils of your choice.
- Camphor added to coconut oil can be used as a powerful way to control dandruff naturally.
- Wash hair with buttermilk for a clarifying effect from dandruff.
Natural Dandruff Treatment
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Amla Juice / Capsules