If you have dandruff, you’re probably looking for ways to stop those white or yellow flakes of skin, which also may make your ears and face red and itchy.
Natural remedies that may help include:
Tea tree oil. Apply a small amount of this strong-smelling oil to especially scaly patches on your scalp, says New York holistic dermatologist Alan Dattner, MD. It can trigger allergies, though, so use it only for short periods.
Aloe. The thick fluid in the leaves of the aloe vera plant may ease dandruff, says New York dermatologist Michele Green, MD. In a small study, aloe eased itching and scaly skin in people with seborrheic dermatitis, a skin condition that can create dandruff. You can cut an aloe leaf and squeeze the fluid directly onto the affected area, or use store-bought aloe vera gel.
Baking soda. This familiar baking ingredient can also be helpful, Green says. Wet your hair and rub the baking soda on your scalp a few times a week. You may need to use it for several weeks before you see improvement, she says.
Olive oil. To temporarily remove dandruff flakes, apply a little bit of olive oil to scaly patches, then use a comb or brush on the area after an hour. Don’t overdo it, or you’ll have oily hair to deal with.
Calm your mind. In some people, depression and anxiety may be linked to dandruff flare-ups, Dattner says. Even if you’re not depressed or anxious, chronic stress is never great for your skin, and dandruff is a skin problem. If you’ve noticed a link between your mood and your dandruff outbreaks, these steps may help:
- Find healthy ways to release your stress. Meditate, work out, and don’t hesitate to get help from a therapist if your stress or moods get intense.
- Use a UV light during the winter if you have seasonal depression.
- If you’re considering taking supplements, such as St. John’s wort, tell your doctor so he can check on side effects. Do that even if the product is “natural.”
Good bacteria. Boosting the friendly bacteria in your digestive system can reduce yeast inside your body and lower the inflammation that also gets aimed at yeast on your skin, Dattner says. You can do this by taking probiotics containing Lactobacillus acidophilus or bifidobacterium, found in supplements and some yogurts (check the label).
Omega-3s. Getting omega-3 fatty acids in the form of fish-oil capsules may help improve dandruff by lowering inflammation in your body, Dattner says. There isn’t much research on that, though.
B vitamins. B6, folate, B12, and biotin may be useful. You can take a multivitamin to get these vitamins if you don’t get enough from your diet.
Zinc and selenium. These minerals are found in popular dandruff shampoos. Taking them in supplement form may also reduce dandruff, says McLean Sheperd, MD, a dermatologist in Mount Pleasant, S.C. There is little to no research testing that, though. Getting too much zinc or selenium, from diet or supplements, can be bad for you.