For most people, the symptoms of dandruff are unmistakable: white, oily looking flakes of dead skin that dot your hair and shoulders and an itchy, scaling scalp. But it is not quite that simple, many conditions cause excessive skin scaling, including:
Dry Skin. Simple dry skin, the kind you get in winter when the air is cold and rooms are overheated, is by far the most common cause of itchy, flaking skin. But flakes from dry skin are generally smaller and less oily than those caused by dandruff.
Seborrheic Dermatitis. This condition, a frequent cause of dandruff, is marked by red, greasy skin covered with flaky white or yellow scales. Seborrheic dermatitis affects not only your scalp but also other areas rich in oil glands, such as your eyebrows, the sides of your nose and the backs of your ears, your breastbone, your groin area, and sometimes your armpits.
Psoriasis. This skin disorder causes an accumulation of dead skin cells that form thick silvery scales. In severe cases, your skin cracks, bleeds and may be quite painful. Psoriasis commonly occurs on your knees, elbows and trunk, but it can also extend from your scalp onto your forehead and neck.
Cradle Cap (seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp). This disorder, which causes a scaling, crusty scalp, is most common in newborns, but it can occur anytime during infancy. Although it can be alarming for parents, cradle cap isn't dangerous and usually clears up on its own by the time a baby is a year old.
Scalp Ringworm (tinea capitis). This highly contagious fungal infection occurs primarily in children younger than age 10. Ringworm starts as a red sore around a hair shaft, usually on the scalp but sometimes in the eyebrows or eyelashes. Within a few days, the sore turns scaly and spreads outward in the ring pattern that gives the infection its name. The hair in the affected area usually breaks off just above the surface. Unlike dandruff, ringworm usually causes a red, inflamed scalp as well as hair loss.
Contact Dermatitis. Sometimes sensitivities to certain hair-care products or hair dyes can cause a red, itchy, scaling scalp.
Aesthetically speaking. That is why most complementary approaches focus on treating the problem from the inside out, with diet and nutritional supplements. Here are some of the most common suggestions:
Sweets and yeast-containing foods such as bread, beer and wine may encourage the growth of the fungus that causes dandruff.
Vitamins are essential for healthy skin and hair. Good food sources include egg yolks, bananas, avocados, nuts and seeds, and dark leafy greens, such as spinach.
The mineral zinc, found in some dandrufff shampoos, helps regulate the activity of your oil glands, keeps your immune system healthy and promotes healing. It's best to get zinc from food sources such as egg yolks, fish, especially sardines, meat and sunflower seeds.
Sometimes known as essential fatty acids, omega 3 oils are necessary for good health. Among other things, they aid in the transmission of nerve impulses, help produce new cells and lower cholesterol levels. They also help keep your skin and hair healthy. Omega 3 fatty acids are found primarily in fresh, deep water fish, especially salmon, swordfish, mackerel and herring, and in canola, soybean, fish and flaxseed oils. In addition, many natural foods stores and drugstores carry a variety of fish and vegetable oil supplements.
Tea tree oil, which is extracted from the leaves of the Australian tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia), has been used for centuries as an antiseptic, antibiotic and antifungal agent. It's now included in a number of shampoos found in natural foods stores. The oil can cause allergic reactions in some people, so be sure to stop using it if you have any problems.
Dandruff is a chronic condition that can almost always be controlled, but it may take a little patience and persistence. In general, mild scaling can often be helped by daily cleansing with a gentle shampoo to reduce oiliness and cell buildup.
When regular shampoos fail, OTC dandruff shampoos may succeed. But dandruff shampoos aren't all alike, and you may need to experiment until you find one that works best for you. dandruff shampoos are classified according to their active ingredient. However, they will not cure dandruff:
- Zinc Pyrithione Shampoos (Suave Dandruff Control Shampoo, Head And Shoulders)
- Tar Based Shampoos (Neutrogena T/Gel, Tegrin) BOTH CONTAIN LAURYL SULFATE
- Shampoos Containing Salicylic Acid (Ionil T)
- Selenium Sulfide Shampoos (Selsun, Exsel)
- Ketoconazole Shampoos (Nizoral)
- Learn To Manage Stress
- Shampoo Often
- Cut Back On Styling Products
- Eat A Healthy Diet
- Get A Little Sun
- Limit Sugar And Yeast
- Try A Tea Tree Oil Shampoo
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GRAPEFRUIT SEED EXTRACT (GSE): Grapefruit seed extract has been used in the treatment of human fungal infections. It is more effective at killing yeast than bleach, colloidal silver, tea tree oil and iodine (Sachs, The Authoritative Guide to Grapefruit Seed Extract, 1997). In the liquid form, it has a bitter taste and must be diluted in water or juice (carrot juice) or babys milk. It can be used for topical conditions as well as internal problems. There have been no side effects observed with use of GSE.
D-LIMONENE: Found in essential oils of lemons, oranges, grapefruit, caraway, dill, bergamot, peppermint, spearmint, grasses and tomatoes. D limonene is among a group of chemicals known as monoterpenes. These substances have been shown to cause regression and prevention of recurrence of mammary tumors in rats (Gould. Cancer Chemoprevention and Therapy by monoterpenes. Environmental Health Perspective, 1997. 105:5977-5979). They also have a direct tumorstatic effect, meaning they inhibit the growth of tumors, as well has the ability to block the initiation and promotion phases of carcinogenesis (Gould).
CAPRYLIC ACID: A fatty acid derived from coconuts. Caprylic acid is safe and effective at killing yeast. Follow directions on the individual product label for correct doses.
PROBIOTICS: Indiscriminant use of antibiotics leads to overgrowth of the normal intestinal yeast, which may either initiate problems or compound existing symptoms. By replacing the normal intestinal flora, yeast overgrowth may be inhibited. Probiotics are these normal flora, and include such species as Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacteria, Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus, among others. These are bacteria used in making yogurt they are the live active cultures you see in the ingredients. They are important for the manufacture of B vitamins. They also protect against radiation damage, cancer, eczema, acne, allergies, and digestion disorders (Chaitow et al. Probiotics, 1995).
OLIVE LEAF EXTRACT: Olive leaf extract has the ability to kill invading fungus rather than merely inhibiting its growth (Walker, 1997). It contains a phenolic compound called oleuropein, which has antiviral, antifungal, antiprotozoal, and antibacterial properties (Walker).
GARLIC: Garlic in its natural form is a highly effective, broad-spectrum antifungal (Mowrey, 1986). It can be eaten whole, cooked in recipes, ground up in a carrot juice, or taken as a supplement that offers it in its whole, albeit dried, form.
MALIC ACID: Malic acid is found in apple cider vinegar. Although vinegars and most sauces are not encouraged in an antifungal diet, malic acid is antifungal. One might use a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar diluted in a glass of water to consume once or twice a day.
UNDECYLENIC ACID: An organic fatty acid expressed from castor bean oil that, in the older days, was listed and used as a pharmaceutical antifungal agent. Today, it can be found in an over the counter form and used for the same purpose in products such as Formula SF 722 (Thorne Research). It is also used in many over the counter antifungal powders such as those used to treat athletes foot and jock itch. It has approximately six times the antifungal activity of caprylic acid (Neuhauser, 1954). It can also be found in UGN: http://www.bioactivenutrients.com/UGN.html
PAU D'ARCO: May be taken in a capsule or a tea. The bark of this rainforest tree is inherently antifungal. Follow individual product directions for proper use.
TEA TREE OIL: A topical antifungal that should never be used internally, although at one time the leaves of the tree were boiled to form a tea that was consumed in order to prevent scurvy. The oil is derived from the indiginous Australian tree, melaleuca alternifolia, and it has been used for centuries as a general antiseptic, meaning that it kills a wide variety of germs (Carson and Riley, 1998). Studies at the University of Western Australia have documented antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties of tea tree oil. For skin problems, either direct, full strength application or dilution with water for washing purposes is recommended.
CARROT JUICE (Carrots): An article in The Journal of Microbiology in 1988 discussed antifungal properties of carrots. Despite their carbohydrate content, which can be rather high, say, if a large carrot juice is consumed, we generally feel that the nutritional and antifungal properties of carrots outweighs this concern- enjoy a carrot juice today!
HERBS AND VITAMINS: Most herbs and many vitamins that display health benefits, like the antioxidants (Vit. E, A, C, Zinc, etc.), have antifungal properties (Costantini, 1998). For example, ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is added to commercial applesauce to prevent the growth of fungi in the jars and cans. We feel that this ability to inhibit fungi may be more responsible for their benefit than their mere nutritional qualities can provide alone, given the documented ability of fungi to cause disease and illness. Please note that if fungi can cause disease, it would probably not be a good idea to supplement with brewers yeast, a common practice in the nutritional arena.
OIL OF OREGANO
RED THYME OIL
BIOTIN 8000 MCG.
APPLE CIDER VINEGAR (combed through the hair or applied to affected areas)
DIATOMACEOUS EARTH (not an herb - mechanically kills yeast & parasites in intestines)
Dandruff Information: Natural News 5/6/2011 - Deal With Dandruff Naturally
Dandruff Information: Natural News 6/12/2011 - Try Cedarwood For Dandruff, Oily Hair And Skin Problems
Dandruff Information: Dr. Mercola 11/20/2007 - Dandruff Is Caused By Scalp Fungus!
Dandruff Information: Dr. Mercola 6/30/2009 - What's Your Best Advice For Dandruff? Here Is Mine
Dandruff Information: Dr. Mercola 4/18/2012 - Put Coconut Oil On Your Hair For A New Level Of Luster