Dos and Don'ts When You Have Dandruff

Resist the urge to scratch your scalp, which can make dandruff worse.
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Snow flurries can be beautiful, flurries of white on the shoulders of your red shirt in the middle of spring are less charming. Dandruff is the result of dead skin cells falling from the scalp, and not only does it cause visible flakes, but it can make your head downright itchy. While it can be difficult to deal with dandruff, there are some things you should and shouldn’t do to help control this embarrassing and often uncomfortable problem.

1 Do Use The Right Shampoo

When your scalp is plagued with dandruff, the right shampoo is essential. Look for shampoos that are specifically designed to fight dandruff. Choose products that are tar or sulfur based, or products that contain salicylic acid, zinc pyrithione, ketoconazole or selenium sulfide. These types of ingredients will help control flakes, reduce itchiness and add moisture to the scalp.

2 Do Shampoo Often and Properly

Not only will you need to shampoo often to get rid of the flakes forming in your hair, but frequent shampooing with the right shampoo will help to keep dandruff from getting worse. Shampoo your hair every day, and leave the shampoo on your head at least five minutes. Dandruff shampoos need time to penetrate the scalp to help eliminate the dandruff. And don’t use hot water when washing your hair. Instead, use lukewarm to cool water. Hot water dries out the skin, which can make dandruff worse. When you’re first starting to fight dandruff, use dandruff shampoo every day. Once the dandruff diminishes in amount, scale it back to using the specific shampoo only about twice a week. Dandruff shampoos may become ineffective over time as your scalp becomes resistant to the ingredients. Switch out one shampoo for another containing a different active ingredient to make sure the shampoo is still effective.

3 Don’t Overuse Styling Products

You might have a close relationship with your gel, mousse, hairspray and styling spray, but these products can actually make dandruff worse. The residue from hair-styling products can build up on your scalp and in your hair, which makes them oilier. The dandruff will adhere to the oils on your scalp, which makes your problem worse. If you can, forego the styling products, at least until the dandruff clears up.

4 Do Try Home Remedies

Don't forget the several home remedies that may help get rid of the flakes. Mix equal parts water and apple cider vinegar into a spray bottle and spritz it onto your scalp. Wrap a towel around your head, wait 15 minutes, then wash your hair as usual. The acid in the vinegar will alter the pH of your scalp, which makes it harder for dandruff to form. Do this twice a week to keep dandruff at bay. Use an exfoliant, like baking soda or salt, to scrub your scalp in the shower prior to shampooing; this will help to loosen the flakes on the scalp. Add a few drops of tea tree oil to your dandruff shampoo to help fight dandruff.

You can also give your scalp some extra moisture with an olive-oil bedtime treatment. Put about 10 drops of olive oil onto your scalp and massage it in with your fingertips. Throw a shower cap onto your head and hit the hay. Wash your hair as usual the next day. For an added boost, mix equal parts olive and castor oil instead of just olive oil. Castor oil is an antibacterial and anti fungal agent that, when mixed with olive oil, will add moisture and help control the flakes. Aloe vera gel can also help fight dandruff. Rub it onto the scalp, wait 15 minutes, then wash your hair.

5 Don't Spend Too Much Time in the Sun

The harsh rays from the sun will affect your scalp just like it affects the rest of the skin on your body. If you already suffer from dandruff, exposing the scalp to the sun can make the problem worse by drying out the skin and hair. This doesn’t mean you have to stay cooped up in the house all summer long. Just limit the time you spend in the sun at peak times (late morning to early afternoon), or wear a hat or scarf to protect your scalp and keep dandruff from getting worse.

6 Do Treat Your Body Right To Control Dandruff

Even if you’re doing all you can to protect your scalp on the outside to help control dandruff, you need to treat your body right on the inside as well to keep the flakes at bay. Try to keep your stress levels down and make sure you’re getting plenty of sleep every night. Drink lots of water and eat a healthy diet with foods high in protein. Avoid over-indulging in junk foods, sodas, alcohol and fried foods.

7 Don't Suffer in Silence

If you’ve tried the shampoos and home remedies and you’re still plagued with flaky dandruff, it might be time to see the doctor. Try following a hair-care routine for two weeks; if it doesn’t clear up, make an appointment. You might need a prescription-strength shampoo or even a topical treatment for your scalp to clear up the dandruff.

Kimbry Parker has been writing since 1998 and has published content on various websites. Parker has experience writing on a variety of topics such as health, parenting, home improvement and decorating. She is a graduate of Purdue University with a Bachelor of Arts in organizational communication.