At times, especially, during a dry winter, it is quite normal for the scalp to be mildly flaky. The skin sheds dead cells in this way. This flakiness, if severe and persistent, is dandruff. It results from faster than normal skin growth and from too much or too little sebum being produced by the scalp's sebaceous glands.
Persistent dandruff can result in hair fall. The worst is when dry dandruff, if neglected, turns to a greasy form, "fatty pityriasis”, and the scalp is then vulnerable to infection, blisters, boils or eczema. If there is the slightest sign of the fine, dry, bran-like greyish scales which fall at theslightest scratch, do something about it.
HOW TO TREAT DANDRUFF
• Change the brand of your shampoo as sometimes the flakiness can be due to an allergic reaction to a particular shampoo.
• Pick an anti-dandruff shampoo that suits your type and use it regularly to keep the scalp clean.
• Massage the scalp vigorously to help to remove the dead skin cells.
• Avoid using too many hair products. Allow your hair to dry naturally and avoid using a hair dryer unless essential.
• Avoid tinned fruit, sugar and caffeine. Drink plenty of water to balance the PH in the scalp.
• Use an anti-dandruff shampoo until your dandruff is cured, then switch back to your regular shampoo.
• Right fat. You might be told to do that for all sorts of things but it is really the basic perquisite for overall good health. Have lots of zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, and E and B vitamins and avoid yeast and sugar.
• Oiling is the next basic step to healthy hair. Our grandmother was right – regular tel maalish does lead to healthy, dandruff-free hair. Make sure you leave the oil on for a while, don't wash it off immediately.
• Excessive use of hair styling products like hair spray, mousse and gels contain ingredients that might make the scalp very dry causing flaking and itching.
• Washing your hair with mildly acidic products like lemon juice, baking soda, tea leaves or apple cider vinegar might also help, but consult a beautician or your doctor before you use these raw remedies.
Vinegar soak: Mix two tablespoons of vinegar and four tablespoons of hot water. Dab this mixture with cotton wool into the scalp parting the hair with the comb to reach the affected parts. Use it preferably at bedtime. Tie a scarf over the hair to prevent staining the pillow. Next morning wash the hair with a shampoo. After the hair has been thoroughly cleansed pour on the hair a last rinse mixture of three tablespoons of vinegar in a cup of hot water. Dry the hair thoroughly. Do this twice a week for three months.
Hot oil therapy: Massage hot oil into the scalp at bedtime. Next morning, an hour before bathing, rub one part lemon juice mixed with two parts of vinegar into the scalp. An hour later wash the hair with a good egg shampoo or any shampoo will do. Continue this treatment once a week for three months and then stagger it to once a fortnight for the next two months.
Greasy dandruff: If not treated, dry dandruff can transform itself into greasy dandruff. The dry scale of dandruff on the scalp will gradually become greasy, sticking to the scalp and the base of the hair. In this condition dandruff turns yellow, moist and stops falling. You might even think that your condition has taken a turn for the better whereas, in fact, it is now becoming more serious and difficult to cure. Hair fall begins since the scalp is permanently dirty.
Try a mixture of two tablespoons of sulphur powder and sufficient coconut oil to make a paste. Apply this paste at bedtime all over the scalp. The next morning wash it off with an egg shampoo. The treatment should be followed twice a week and continued for three months.
Nettle (Kikai) rinse: Take 1/4 cup of nettle and dip them in two cups of boiling water for half an hour. When the solution cools, add 1/4 cup of vinegar. Massage this mixture into the scalp twice a day.
Chemomile rinse: Mix two tablespoons of dried chamomile flower heads in two cups of boiling water for half an hour. Cool this solution and use it after every shampoo as a last rinse. Chamomile flower heads are found in hill stations like Kashmir, Nainital and Bhimtal.
Greasy dandruff: Neglected dandruff can lead to serious ailments like 'seborrhoea'. If the condition of your scalp shows little improvement, consult a dermatologist. Flakiness can be precipitated by travelling and excessive central heating which can over-dry the scalp. The problem of dandruff should be dealt with without delay.