Dandruff is a skin condition that affects the scalp, causing itchy, flaking skin and greasy patches.
Causes of dandruff include:
- seborrheic dermatitis
- dry skin
- allergic reactions to hair and
- skin products
- other skin conditions, such as eczema or psoriasis
- overgrowth of a yeast-like fungus called Malassezia
An itchy scalp and flakiness are the hallmark signs of this condition, but it may also cause other symptoms like greasy patches on the scalp and tingling skin.
Underlying causes of dandruff include dry skin, seborrheic dermatitis, sensitivity to hair products and the growth of a specific type of fungus that lives on the scalp.
While there are plenty of over-the-counter products designed to treat dandruff, natural remedies can be just effective.
The telltale sign of a dry scalp is persistent itchiness, but it may also be accompanied by dandruff, soreness, and hair loss. Dry scalp can have a number of different causes, though the most common is a reaction to the change in weather or a harsh ingredient in hair care products.
Sometimes, something as simple as not drinking enough water or washing your hair daily can be the culprit, though medical conditions like eczema or psoriasis could also be the cause. No matter the cause, we’ve put together some solutions for at-home treatment you can try to tackle your dry scalp.
Natural remedies for Dandruff
Avocados contain monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids that can both moisturize and protect your skin. You can consume avocados (delicious!) and apply avocado or avocado oil topically to soothe dry scalp.
How to use: You can use both avocado oil or blended avocado topically to reduce dry scalp and its symptoms. If you’re using blended avocado, mix it with a few drops of carrier oil like olive oil before massaging it into your scalp. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes before washing it out.
For an extra boost, you can blend both avocados and bananas together to use as a treatment.
Like coconut oil, jojoba oil can be an effective moisturizer , which can relieve dry scalp quickly. It also has anti-inflammatory properties that may treat skin conditions affecting the scalp.
How to use: To use it for dry scalp, you can add a few drops of jojoba oil to your shampoo. This will allow for regular hydration and prevent your shampoo from drying out your scalp further.
Yogurt and egg
Though this may sound like a breakfast gone wrong, yogurt and eggs both have unique benefits that can relieve dry scalp. Yogurt is soothing on the skin and can also be exfoliating, while the fat and protein content in eggs can nourish and protect the scalp by preventing against free radical damage at the cellular level.
How to use: Use a few tablespoons of plain, unflavored yogurt with no added sugar and mix in one well-beaten egg. Massage it into your hair and scalp, and wait 10 minutes before washing it out. Rinse out the mixture with lukewarm or cold water, or the egg may cook and be much more difficult to remove from your hair.
Bananas are nourishing and moisturizing, making them a great treatment for dry scalp and even dandruff. In addition to being moisturizing, they’re a natural antimicrobial , and the two benefits combined can help clear up your dry scalp. (Plus, they’re delicious).
How to use: Mash or blend a banana with a few tablespoons of coconut or olive oil. Blending it will make it easier to rinse out of your hair. Massage it into your scalp and let it sit for 10-15 minutes.
Baking soda and olive oil
Olive oil is moisturizing, and baking soda has antifungal and antibacterial properties. The two together can exfoliate your scalp. The baking soda and olive oil combination is a good choice if you have dandruff alongside dry scalp, as the moisture, exfoliation, and antifungal properties combined can treat the itchy white flakes.
How to use: Mix equal parts baking soda and olive oil together, and massage into your scalp thoroughly. Let it sit for five minutes before washing your hair well with shampoo and conditioner to remove all the residue.
Witch hazel is often marketed in anti-itch products designed for dry and sensitive skin, and it’s historically been used in herbal medicine. It can be used to decrease inflammation that could be causing dry scalp from certain conditions. It also has powerful astringent properties that may soothe symptoms of dry scalp.
How to use: If you’ve purchased liquid witch hazel, mix one part witch hazel with two parts water or carrier oil. Massage it into your scalp thoroughly and let sit for five minutes before washing your hair as you normally would.
Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has several great health benefits that can reduce symptoms of dry scalp. It’s an antimicrobial, which means it can eliminate the bacteria or fungi that could be causing itchiness. It’s also anti-inflammatory and can help exfoliate your scalp, both of which can help treat dry scalp itself.
How to use: Mix one part apple cider vinegar with two parts water, and apply it directly to the scalp. Let it sit for five minutes before washing it out with a gentle shampoo and conditioning your hair like normal.
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Aloe vera has a number of properties that can help with dry scalp. It has anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce skin irritation, and it’s also an effective moisturizing agent.
How to use: Apply it topically to your scalp, and let it sit for 10 minutes before washing it out. You can take oral aloe vera supplements, but they can act as a laxative so keep that in mind when taking them. You should also check out our list of benefits to drinking aloe vera juice.
Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil has strong antiseptic, antifungal, and antibiotic properties that can relieve dry scalp and its symptoms. It’s why many dandruff shampoos can be found to have tea tree oil in them.
How to use: You can use one of these products, or mix a few drops of tea tree oil with a carrier oil, like coconut or olive oil, and massage it into your scalp. Leave it on for 10 minutes before washing it out.
Coconut oil has long been used for its skin health benefits, and dry scalp is no exception. It can moisturize the scalp, and it’s antifungal and antibacterial properties can help reduce the risk of infections. It can even help treat atopic dermatitis.
How to use: Apply a small amount of melted coconut oil directly to your scalp, massaging it into the skin. Leave it to sit for at least 10 minutes before washing your hair as you normally would. Not only will this help with dry scalp, it will also leave your hair silky smooth.
Risks and side effects
Treating dry scalp with these home remedies is generally considered safe and risk-free. Before using any new product, especially essential oils, you should do a test patch on the inside of your wrist to avoid an allergic reaction.
It’s important to remember that essential oils aren’t monitored for purity or quality, so you should use caution when choosing a quality brand. These oils are also potent and should always be diluted with a carrier oil. In this case, using coconut or olive oil as a carrier oil could have added benefits for treating your scalp.
Dry scalp can be bothersome, just alone for its visible effects on your hair and scalp. However, it can also lead to dandruff and visible hair loss. Hair loss may be due to persistent scratching.
Some people will scratch enough that it causes soreness or even open wounds. If not cared for, these sores could become inflamed. In extreme cases, the sores (whether caused by scratching or infections) could result in scarring. If you believe you have any sores or wounds, you should see a doctor before applying any oils or home remedies as they may irritate the wound.
In cases where dry scalp is caused by or associated with an infection — particularly a fungal infection — treatment is necessary to prevent it from spreading. You should see your doctor.
The Bottom Line
Dry scalp can be uncomfortable, but fortunately it’s highly treatable. Many cases of dry scalp respond well to a change in your hair care products or routine, and home remedies can certainly help speed up the process.
Although dandruff can be a frustrating problem, there are plenty of natural remedies available that can reduce symptoms and provide relief.
If home remedies haven’t started to work after two weeks, you can make an appointment to see your doctor to make sure there isn’t an underlying health condition that requires prescription treatment. If you notice that you’re experiencing hair loss along with dry scalp, particularly in conjunction with sores or blisters, it’s also a good idea to check in with your healthcare provider.