A common ailment known as dandruff causes the scalp's skin to flake. It is neither severe nor infectious. Yet, it can be awkward and challenging to treat.

A moderate daily wash can be used to treat mild dandruff. A medicated shampoo could be useful if that doesn't help. Afterward, symptoms could come back. A minor kind of seborrheic dermatitis is dandruff.

Dandruff: Causes

The following are the important causes of developing dandruff −

  • Oily, irritated skin

  • Arid skin

  • Malassezia, a yeast-like fungus that lives on the scalps of most people and feeds on their oils

  • Sensitivity to cosmetics for hair care (contact dermatitis)

  • Other skin disorders, such as eczema and psoriasis

Dandruff: Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of dandruff might include −

  • Your shoulders, hair, beard, and eyebrows are covered in skin flakes.

  • Rough scalp

  • Infants with cradle caps have scaly, crusty scalps.

  • Stress can exacerbate the signs and symptoms, which also tend to worsen during the cold, dry months.

When to Visit a Doctor?

The majority of dandruff sufferers don't need medical attention. If your issue doesn't get better after using dandruff shampoo often, consult your primary care physician or a dermatologist.

Dandruff: Risk Factors

Several factors play an important role in the development of dandruff which includes −

  • Age. Dandruff typically starts in adolescence and lasts into middle life. It does not imply that older people do not get dandruff. The issue may persist forever for some individuals.

  • Being a man. Males are more likely than females to have dandruff.

  • Specific diseases. The chance of developing dandruff seems to be increased by conditions like Parkinson's disease and other illnesses of the nervous system. Also, having HIV or a compromised immune system.

Dandruff: Diagnosis

The diagnosis of dandruff is mainly done based on history and some of the tests may be required for confirmation and to rule out underlying causes.

Frequently, a doctor can determine if you have dandruff only by examining your hair and scalp.

Dandruff: Treatment

The treatment is based on the severity of the symptoms. Your doctor may advise conservative or surgical treatment.

Dandruff's itchiness and flaking are virtually usually manageable. To lessen oil and skin cell accumulation and to start treating moderate dandruff, consider routinely washing your hair with a light shampoo. Try using a medicated dandruff shampoo if that doesn't work. A medicated shampoo can be used two to three times a week for certain people, with ordinary shampooing on other days as needed. Less frequent washing and a moisturizing conditioner for the hair or scalp might be beneficial for people with drier hair.

Products for the hair and scalp come in the form of solutions, foams, gels, sprays, ointments, and oils, both medicated and nonmedicated. You may need to test more than one product to discover the regimen that works for you. And you'll probably require ongoing or prolonged therapy.

Stop using any product if you experience stinging or irritation after using it. Get emergency medical treatment if you have any symptoms of an allergic response, such as a rash, hives, or breathing difficulties.

Shampoos for dandruff are categorized based on the medicine they include. Some are accessible by prescription in stronger forms.

  • Zinc pyrithione shampoos. They include zinc pyrithione, an antibacterial and antifungal substance.

  • Shampoos made from tar. On your scalp, coal tar reduces the rate at which skin cells deteriorate and fall off. This kind of shampoo could darken your hair if it is light in color. Moreover, it may increase the scalp's sensitivity to sunlight.

  • Salicylic acid-containing shampoos. These goods aid in scale eradication.

  • Shampoos with selenium sulfide. They include an antifungal substance. Since they might stain the hair and scalp, use these products as indicated and thoroughly rinse after shampooing.

  • Shampoos with ketoconazole. The goal of this shampoo is to eradicate the fungus that resides on your scalp and causes dandruff.

  • Shampoos with fluocinolone. A corticosteroid is present in these products to assist in reducing itchiness, flaking, and irritation.

Try switching between two dandruff shampoos if one kind first seems to be beneficial for a while before losing it. Try using the medicated shampoo less frequently after your dandruff is under control for maintenance and prevention.

You should read and abide by the instructions on every shampoo bottle you use. While some products must be rapidly washed off, others must be left on for a few minutes.

Consult your doctor or dermatologist if you've been using medicated shampoo consistently for a few weeks but still have dandruff. You could require a steroid lotion or a shampoo with prescription strength.

Treatments at Home for Dandruff

There are a few additional things besides dandruff shampoos that might help manage it. For instance, controlling your stress or attempting any of these natural remedies might assist with flaking. They either moisturize or could be effective against fungus or bacteria −

  • Coconut nut oil. After applying this to your scalp for three to five tablespoons, wait an hour, and then shower your hair.

  • Aloe vera. Just before shampooing your hair, massage a little into your scalp.

  • Apple cider vinegar − To treat your scalp, combine a quarter cup of apple cider vinegar with a quarter cup of water. After letting it sit for at least 15 minutes, thoroughly rinse your scalp.

  • Aspirin. When shampooing your hair, crush two aspirins and combine them with your shampoo. After letting it sit for two minutes, rinse it.

  • Soda bread. Put baking soda on your scalp after wetting your hair. After letting it rest for a while, rinse it.

  • Citrus juice. Your scalp should be treated with two tablespoons of lemon juice. After letting it stay for a few minutes, rinse. After that, apply a second teaspoon of lemon juice combined with a cup of water on your scalp.

  • Extra virgin olive oil. Apply a few drops of olive oil to your scalp, put a shower cap on your hair, and go to bed with it. Shower and wash your hair.

Dandruff: Prevention

Some of the measures that can help to prevent dandruff include −

You can take the following actions to lower your chance of getting dandruff or to manage it −

  • Master stress management. Your general health is impacted by stress, which increases your risk of developing various ailments and diseases. Even worse, it may exacerbate pre-existing problems like dandruff.

  • Adopt a balanced diet. Enough zinc, B vitamins, and specific types of lipids in the diet may help avoid dandruff.

  • Choose a hair and scalp care schedule that works for you. Daily washing might help avoid dandruff if you tend to have an oily scalp. To remove flakes, give your scalp a gentle massage. Thoroughly rinse. Reduce the frequency of shampooing and condition your scalp in between washes if your hair is prone to dryness and your scalp is sensitive.


A common ailment known as dandruff causes the scalp's skin to flake. It is neither severe nor infectious. However, it may be humiliating and difficult to cure. A moderate daily wash can be used to treat mild dandruff.

Dr. Durgesh Kumar Sinha
Dr. Durgesh Kumar Sinha


Updated on: 17-Apr-2023


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