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Dandruff Shampoo | How Dandruff Shampoos Remove Flakes
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Dandruff Shampoo

How Dandruff Shampoos Get Rid of Flakes and Irritation


Have you ever experienced brushing your tresses and seeing white flakes fall from your hair? Flakes are clear signs of dandruff. Dandruff is one of the most common scalp issues that both men and women experience. It isn’t just about the flakes, it comes with irritation and itching too. Though dandruff is not necessarily harmful, it can be a bit embarrassing and unpleasant. The best shampoo products will help you get rid of dandruff easily.

a bottle of dandruff shampoo and a tub of dandruff treatment

Many risk factors increase the possibility and occurrence of dandruff. It may be skin or medical conditions or the use of inappropriate hair products. Dandruff is quite difficult to get rid of, but it is definitely not impossible. With proper hair care and the right dandruff shampoo, this scalp condition may be treated and prevented once and for all.

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    Why Do People Get Dandruff

    Flaking and itchiness are common indicators that a person has dandruff and dry scalp. Too much oil on the scalp causes excess build up. The buildup then becomes dandruff and would soon shed in flakes.

    Woman looking out to the water

    While dandruff can be annoying and embarrassing, it usually doesn’t indicate a more serious health issue. People get dandruff simply because of an unhealthy scalp condition[1]. These are the most common conditions that put you in higher risk of getting dandruff:

    • Oily skin – People with oily skin are most likely to have dandruff. Oily skin results to excess sebum production. If left untreated, it can become red, start to turn into white or yellow flakes, and become irritated. Seborrheic dermatitis is a more severe version of dandruff caused by oily scalp.
    • Dry skin – A dry scalp lacks moisture and tends to flake and itch. Flakes from dry skin are smaller. The redness or inflammation is unlikely.
    • When you don’t shampoo and brush regularly – If you don’t regularly wash your hair, the natural oils and skin cells from your scalp may build up. This increases the risk of dandruff. Brushing the hair reduces the risk of dandruff because it helps in the normal shedding of your skin.
    • Yeast-like fungus – Malassezia is a dandruff causing fungi that lives on the scalp of many adults. Unfortunately, in some people, this yeast-like fungus irritates the scalp. It may cause more skin cells to grow and when these cells die and fall off, they appear like flakes in your hair. It is not known why Malassezia irritates some scalps.
    • Sensitivity to hair care products – Sometimes sensitivities to certain ingredients in hair care products or hair dyes can cause a red, itchy, scaly scalp.
    • Excessive use of hair products – too much use of hair products such as gels, waxes, and hair sprays can increase hair buildup and cause dandruff. These products also cause the scalp’s natural pH to be out of balance.

    Most of the time dandruff isn’t complicated and you won’t need to consult a doctor. However, if there are signs of infection and swelling or if dandruff severely persists after a month of home treatment, seek medical help.

    How Dandruff Shampoo Works

    If your scalp is itchy and flaky, you may get some relief by using shampoos formulated to treat dandruff. Even the act of washing and brushing the hair can help remove old skin flakes. If you want to learn more about different hair tools like brushes and combs, check out the next article.

    The approach to treating dandruff depends on the patient’s age and the severity of the condition. Generally, dandruff shampoos[2] work to cleanse and nourish your hair while fighting the causes of dandruff such as dry scalp.

    For children or older individuals a gentler cleansing method is often used to get rid of dandruff. Children and elderly have skin that’s more sensitive than usual so they need gentle hair cleansers. For adults, there are shampoos and deep cleansing treatments made with ingredients that can keep dandruff away. These treatments may contain chemicals that effectively get rid of flakes and bacteria-causing dandruff.

    Woman with clean scalp

    Using dandruff shampoos have many benefits. If you find the right one, you may end up with great results. Dandruff shampoo works by washing the hair and scalp to get rid of dirt and excess oil buildup. Dandruff shampoos remove many pollutants from your hair and scalp when used correctly. These types of shampoos also help clean buildup caused by styling products.

    As the dandruff shampoo is massaged into the scalp and through the hair, it breaks up and loosens existing flakes. Much of the existing external dandruff is washed away when the shampoo is rinsed out. This decreases the appearance of flakes.

    Many dandruff shampoo products also offer nutrient-rich formulas that moisturize the scalp and keep hair healthy. The majority of dandruff shampoos use active ingredients to balance the scalp’s oils. This is what may treat dandruff directly to reduce the reproduction of excess oils or decrease the yeast production.

    Best Dandruff Shampoo

    The best dandruff shampoo should work to cleanse and nourish your hair while its active ingredients decrease the likeliness of dandruff from occurring again. It should contain ingredients proven to treat dandruff and dry scalp[3].

    Ingredients That Help Get Rid of Dandruff

    There are many natural and chemical based ingredients that target dandruff specifically. Some dandruff shampoos carry only one of these ingredients while others contain a mixture of one or more. Some ingredients are gentle on hair while others can be drying. These are the ingredients to look for when you want to know which dandruff shampoo actually works:

    Tea Tree Oil

    Tea tree oil is an essential oil derived from an Australian native plant with the same name. Many dandruff shampoos include this ingredient. It has long been used as an antibiotic and antiseptic ingredient that is known to fight bacteria. Tea tree oil is also known to have anti-fungal properties. It can battle fungi like the Malassezia to treat dandruff. This oil does this without drying your scalp.


    Ketoconazole is an effective antifungal medicine. Shampoos containing this ingredient treat scalp infections including yeasts. Over-the-counter ketoconazole shampoo[4] controls scalp flaking, scaling, and itching caused by dandruff.

    Selenium Sulfide

    Selenium sulfide is a medication that treats dandruff. It is found in many anti-dandruff shampoos since it reduces the production of natural oils in the scalp. Reduced production can result to less flakes. Selenium sulfide also lessens itching, flaking, irritation, and redness of the scalp.

    Shower head with water coming out

    Coal Tar

    Coal tar is a natural anti-fungal agent. It causes the skin to shed dead cells from its top layer and slow down the growth of skin cells to get rid of flakes. This decreases the scaling and dryness of your scalp. Coal tar can also decrease itchiness and other irritations caused by dandruff.

    Salicylic Acids

    Salicylic acid helps the scalp remove dead skin cells that may have accumulated on the scalp. They do not slow down the reproduction of skin cells. It loosens and softens scaly skin, making it easier for the shampoo’s cleansing properties to wash it away.

    Zinc Pyrithione Or Pyrithione Zinc

    Zinc pyrithione is a complex formulation of zinc that inhibits the division of fungal cells and bacterial cell division to help in treating dandruff. It first removes the visible symptoms of dandruff such as flakes or inflammation. Then it fights the underlying cause of dandruff for complete relief and prevents the symptoms from reappearing.

    How Dandruff Shampoos are Used

    The best way to use dandruff shampoo is to select a shampoo containing one of the ingredients above. You must also follow the instructions when using the shampoo for best results.

    When you find dandruff shampoo that works for you[5], using it the proper way is necessary for it to be effective. For the treatment of dandruff, follow the product label’s instructions, or use as directed by your doctor. Make sure you read the instructions that come with the shampoo before using it to check if it’s suitable for you and see how often it should be applied.

    Most shampoos have specific instructions for their use but generally, you may follow these steps:

    1. Some brands require shaking the bottle before use. Check your product package to see if your brand needs to be shaken.
    2. Wet scalp and hair thoroughly. Some dandruff shampoos require application on dry hair only so take note of that as well.
    3. Apply a generous amount of dandruff shampoo on your scalp and massage into a lather. Run your fingers through the length of your hair so that the shampoo covers all areas of your hair.
    4. Leave shampoo on the scalp for three to five minutes before rinsing. Leaving the shampoo on hair give the ingredients time to work.

    You may try dandruff shampoos for a month to see if the state of your scalp improves. You might need to try more than one type to find one that works for you. It may take time but when you get to the right one, it is worth it. You may be able to use the shampoo less when your symptoms improve, but your dandruff will probably come back if you stop using it completely. Regular use is still advised.

    How to Rid Of Dandruff Naturally

    Most cases of dandruff are treatable so you don’t have to worry too much. Still, it is quite a hassle. Using the right dandruff shampoo with natural remedies won’t disappoint. Using dandruff shampoos are still crucial to getting rid of flakes but if you’re not into chemical-based dandruff solutions[6], these natural treatments can help. They transform your hair for better and free you from itchiness and flakes.

    Here are some tips that may help treat dandruff:

    1. Apply different essential and natural oils

    A bottle of essential oil that can clear dandruffApplying more oil to an already oily and flaky scalp may seem counter-productive. It is definitely not. Oils like tea tree oil and castor oil cleanse your scalp and balance your natural oil production. Tea tree oil has antiseptic, antiviral, and anti-fungal properties that kill the harmful microbes causing dandruff. Castor oil contains Ricinoleic acid that has antimicrobial properties to kill bacteria that cause dandruff. Learn more about these and other essential oils you can use for your hair. Read the All Shampoo Review Essential oils guide.

    1. Relax

    Skin irritations are sometimes triggered by depression, anxiety, and stress. Your body’s natural defenses are weaker when you are experiencing these types of health issues. You may notice that dandruff symptoms become more prolific when you are under stress. Try to relax using techniques such as meditation to help you get rid of stress and anxiety. When you are less anxious and stressed, your dandruff symptoms will also lessen.

    1. Apple cider vinegar

    The acidity of apple cider vinegar changes the pH of your scalp, making it harder for the yeast to grow. This is a great anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial aid. It is not only for treating the unpleasant itchiness and for flaking, but also in making sure that dandruff is less likely to occur again.

    1. Add omega-3 and zinc rich food into your diet

    Dry scalp and dandruff can be a sign that you are not getting enough essential fatty acids and zinc in your diet. Food rich in omega-3 can help provide the hydration you need for your skin and scalp. Zinc helps with scalp health to maintain dandruff-free hair. Food containing omega-3 fatty acids include fatty fish and other vegetable sources. Food rich in zinc include whole grains, meats, and nuts.

    1. Drink a lot of water

    Water is crucial to your health and hair. Without enough water, your skin can begin to dry out and become flaky. It is very important to drink plenty of water daily to help your overall health and to prevent skin and scalp dryness.

    These natural remedies are not that hard to find. You can easily add them to your diet. Try them out and see the difference. Make it a habit to include these products to your daily intake and see your hair change from being full of flakes to clean and soft.

    High-quality dandruff shampoos help you with your scalp issue and create a healthy scalp environment for your hair. The best of these shampoos not only leave your hair clean but also prevents the repeated occurrence of dandruff. If you are still struggling with itchiness and scaling, you need to get a dandruff shampoo that takes away the fear of flakes falling from your hair. Kiss your dandruff goodbye with the best dandruff shampoos.

    Piper Hansen

    Hi, I'm Piper! If you are the type of person who can use fauvism and primitivism in one sentence, I'm going to find you. And I'm going to call you my best friend

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    1. Reviewed by Stephanie S. Gardner, MD. Conditions That Affect Your Scalp. webmd.com, November 2018

    2. Wiegman, S., PharmD. How Should I Use Medicated Dandruff Shampoos? sharecare.com

    3. Vilines, Z., reviewed by Karen Cross, FNP, MSN. The Difference Between Dandruff and a Dry Scalp. medicalnewstoday.com, February 2018

    4. Gotter, A. medically reviewed by Debra Rose Wilson, PhD, MSN, RN, IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT. What Is Ketoconazole Shampoo? healthline.com, May 2018

    5. Woodruff, E. and Narasaki, R. 13 Best Dandruff Shampoos for a Happier Scalp. totalbeauty.com

    6. Alai, N., MD, FAAD, edited by Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, Chief Medical Editor. Dandruff (Seborrhea). emedicinehealth.com, October 2018

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