Dandruff (Scaliness of the scalp)

The term dandruff generally refers to the condition of the skin wherein shiny, silvery scales separate from the scalp and collect in the hair. The condition can become troublesome when the skin gets infected. In Ayurveda, dandruff is called darunak.

Ayurveda and Dandruff

According to Ayurveda, darunak or dandruff is categorized as a Shudra Roga, one which is caused by an imbalance of all three doshas (Ayurvedic biohumors). The primary doshas that cause this problem are Kapha and Vata. While Kapha represents softness and stickiness, Vata can be dry and rough. In an aggravated state, Vata-Kapha cause impurities to accumulate in the deep tissues of the scalp leading to this issue which is dry and sticky in nature. Contamination of the deep tissues and heightened Vata-Kapha causes the scalp to shed a higher amount of dead epidermal cells than is normal, which is dandruff.

Symptoms of Dandruff

The scalp forms skin cells on a continual basis, therefore the shedding of dead skin cells is also a natural process. In the case of dandruff, the skin cells shed at a faster rate than usual.
When the hair is combed or brushed, or when the scalp is scratched, the scales from the scalp fall like snowflakes and settle on the eyebrows, shoulders and clothes. These scales sometimes appear as lumps or crusts on the scalp. Often there is itching as well and the scalp may become red from scratching.
Cradle cap is a type of dandruff that affects babies. Common in newborns, this problem results in a crusty scalp and can happen at any point during infancy. Though parents may be quite upsets by the unsightly appearance, cradle cap isn’t all that dangerous and usually clears up on its own in due course.

Causes of Dandruff

The main causes of dandruff are impairment of general health, impurities of blood, development of a toxic condition mainly due to eating the wrong foods, constipation and low vitality due to infectious diseases. Other factors contributing to this disorder are emotional stress, harsh hair products (contact dermatitis), exposure to cold and general exhaustion.
When yeast tends to grow in excessive amounts, it can cause dandruff to thrive. This increase in growth could be caused by stress, hormonal imbalance, an excessively oily/dirty scalp or issues with the immune system.
Skin conditions such as psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis or eczema are primarily responsible for dandruff.

Risk Factors of Dandruff

While almost anyone at all can be plagued by dandruff, there are certain actors which put you at greater risk.

  • Age: The hormonal changes and oiliness of the scalp which are characteristic of young adulthood can make one more susceptible to dandruff at the time. This doesn’t mean that older adults cannot suffer from this condition. For some, this can be a lifelong battle.
  • Being male: Studies show that the dandruff problem seems to be exacerbated in males which leads researchers to believe that male hormones have a role to play.
  • Oily hair and scalp: The yeast-like fungus malassezia which lies on the scalps of most adults feeds on the scalp oils. This is why those with extremely oily skin and hair have a greater tendency to dandruff as the yeast fids a conducive environment to multiply in.
  • Certain health issues: While it is not entirely clear why, adults with neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s disease have a higher risk of developing seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff. Similarly, those with an HIV infection or with compromised immune systems from other conditions are also prone to dandruff.
  • Season: During autumn-winter when the scalp is really dry, the problem may be worsened and then, improve in summer.
  • Nutritional deficiencies: Dandruff can easily proliferate when there is a deficiency of B-complex vitamins or omega-3 fatty acids and other such vitamins.

Home Remedies to Prevent Dandruff

  • Dandruff can be removed by massaging the hair for half an hour with curd which has been kept in the open for three days.
  • Massage the scalp with a few drops of lime juice mixed with amla juice every night before going to bed as one of the effective home remedies to prevent dandruff.
  • A natural dandruff treatment is to dilute apple cider vinegar with an equal quantity of water and dab this on the hair with cotton wool before washing hair. Apple cider vinegar added to the final rinsing water after shampooing also makes dandruff disappear.
  • Make an herbal hair pack by mixing henna powder, curd and reetha powder and apply on the head. Keep it for half an hour and wash off with an herbal lime based shampoo for dandruff. Lime is good for dandruff as well as conditioner. Henna is a great alternative to artificial hair colors that can result in dry scalp and dandruff.
  • Mix one tablespoon of baking soda to a cup of warm water. Optionally, add a few drops of rosemary essential oil to the water. Rinse your hair and scalp with this solution. Your hair may seem very dry at first but it is the best treatment for dandruff as it balances your scalp’s pH while purifying it. Condition with a spritz of coconut oil mixed with water in place of a hair spray to moisturize.
  • Antibacterial and antifungal essential oils like tea tree, cedarwood, clary sage, rosemary, thyme, lemongrass and chamomile can be added to a base oil like coconut oil. Coconut oil is rich in fatty acids to balance your scalp’s moisture levels and is great at banishing fungal and bacterial growth.
  • Essential oils can also be added to a base of organic aloe gel and/or honey and applied to the hair and scalp as a clarifying and conditioning mask. This is among the top home remedies for dandruff and itchy scalp.
  • If you have an oily scalp, a beneficial dandruff remover mask can be made with multani mitti (Fuller’s Earth), lemon peel powder orange peel powder. You can also mix in a few essential oils of your choice.
  • Camphor added to coconut oil can be used as a powerful way to control dandruff naturally.
  • Wash hair with buttermilk for a clarifying effect from dandruff.

Natural Dandruff Treatment

  • Fenugreek (Trigonella Foenum-Graecum): Methi or fenugreek seeds are one of the top natural remedies for dandruff. There are multiple ways of using fenugreek for an itch- and scale-free scalp. Use these seeds by soaking them overnight so the next morning they can be easily made into a paste. You can also use fenugreek seed powder to make a paste. The fenugreek seed paste can then be mixed with other antifungal herbs and oils like henna, yogurt, lime juice, etc. Another way to use the seeds is to heat them with some coconut oil. Strain and use this oil to massage onto your scalp once it cools.
  • Lemon (Citrus Limon): Lemon makes a great homemade dandruff treatment due to its high antioxidant, antibacterial and antifungal properties. Lemon contains citric acid, vitamin C, flavonoids and trace amounts of zinc, which makes lemon juice a great addition to hair masks to zap dandruff. Mix equal quantities of fresh ginger juice, fresh lemon juice and olive oil. Gently massage into scalp. Wash off after an hour. Another great hair mask can be made by combining equal parts of multani mitti, sandalwood powder and lemon peel powder. Make into a paste and apply on the scalp. Leave on for an hour and wash off for deeply nourished and clean hair.
  • Green Gram (Vigna Radiata): The mung bean or green gram for dandruff can be used to wash the hair as an herbal alternative to dandruff shampoo. To treat dandruff with green gram, wash your hair with a paste made of green gram powder. Apply and let it rest on your scalp for 15 minutes and wash off with lukewarm water. If your hair is very oily, add curd to the green gram and then was off with a mild shampoo.
  • Snake Gourd (Trichosanthes cucumerina): To use snake gourd as a natural dandruff remedy, simply massage the juice to your scalp. After half an hour, wash it off using a mild shampoo. This will help hydrate and detoxify the scalp to prevent dandruff from reoccurring.
  • Neem (Azadiracta Indica): Neem oil can be used as a hair oil to eliminate dandruff, on its own or along with tea tree and rosemary essential oils. Neem paste or neem powder added to hair masks can be potent dandruff destroyers. The best and the easiest way to use neem for dandruff is by chewing a few fresh leaves every morning on an empty stomach. As the taste is extremely bitter and astringent, you can also take neem tablets/capsules. Make a neem rinse by boiling the leaves in water and using it as a final wash post shampooing.
Ayurvedic Supplements (to be taken under physician’s guidance – Consult Now)  

                  Amla Juice / Capsules

                  Neem Glow Capsules

                  Guduchyadi Taila

                  Surakta Syrup

                  Arogyavardhini Bati

                  Gandhak Rasayana



                  Kaishore Guggulu

                  Mahamanjisthadi Kadha

                  Chalmogra Oil

  • Avoid spicy and greasy food because they help increase and spread dandruff.
  • Add more vegetables and fruits to the diet as one must intake enough zinc, B-complex vitamins and essential fatty acids to keep dandruff at bay.
  • Sometimes, it might help to do a detox with an all-fruit diet for three days and slowly reintroduce cooked foods into the menu.
  • It is very essential to take fresh foods avoid taking tinned and canned foods.
  • Strong tea and coffee (caffeine), and refined foods should be avoided for sound scalp health.
  • Garlic is a potent herbal remedy for dandruff as it contains allicin, which is a natural antifungal agent that helps in getting rid of dandruff. Add it to your diet or use the diluted juice in your hair masks.
  • Nuts and seeds are rich in dandruff-defeating nutrients like fiber, zinc and vitamin B6.
  • Fish oil is an excellent supplement to get essential omega 3s.
  • Foods allergies (like to gluten or dairy) may act as a trigger for dandruff. One can go through an elimination diet to identify allergens or get tested for food allergies/sensitivities.
  • Eat a diet that’s loaded with probiotics as it helps good gut bacteria flourish which is one of the best ways to get rid of dandruff by fixing your digestion.
  • Include healthy fats like ghee in your diet called “God’s food,” which will make your hair and skin shiny and ‘ruff-free.
  • The foremost consideration in the treatment of this disorder is to keep the hair and scalp clean so as to minimize the accumulation of dead cells. Make sure to shampoo regularly to keep the scalp clean.
  • The hair should be brushed daily to improve circulation and remove any flakes. The most effective way to brush the hair is to bend forward from the waist with the head down towards the ground and brush from the nape of the neck towards the top of the head. The scalp should also be thoroughly massaged every day, using the finger tips and working systematically over the head. This should be done just before or after brushing the hair. Like brushing, this stimulates the circulation, dislodges dirt and dandruff and encourages hair growth.
  • Exposure of the head to the rays of the sun is also a beneficial measure in the treatment of dandruff.
  • Cut back on hair styling products like hair sprays and gels that can make your scalp oily, while hair dryers and chemical-based hair colors can dry out the hair and scalp.
  • Try to meditate and stay stress-free as it will keep you flake-free. Self-massage with a few drops of lavender oil in a base of olive oil can be very relaxing and therapeutic for this condition.
  • Always wear a cap to protect your hair from chlorine while swimming. This is how to control dandruff naturally by limiting chances of contact dermatitis.
  • Disinfect your comb to avoid auto-infection once a week. Similarly, do not share a comb to avoid table tennis (dynamic and mutual) infection.
  • Avoid commercial oils that contain petroleum-based products like paraffin. Combine natural oils like sesame and coconut for massaging your scalp.
  • Cobra Pose (Bhujangaasana)
  • Thunderbolt Pose (Vajrasana)
  • Downward Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
  • Rubbing Nails (Balayam Yoga)
  • Wheel Pose (Chakrasana)
  • Chinmudra or Gyan Mudra