Winter Dandruff Solutions: Say Goodbye to Itchy Scalp

Dealing with winter dandruff can be tough…but these remedies are tougher!

Published On Nov 29, 2023 | Updated On Feb 20, 2024

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With the cool comfort of winter comes a dry and flaky scalp, which brings with it the sworn enemy of good hair - dandruff. Quite like the misconception that dry scalp is dandruff, this ailment is notoriously difficult to get rid of. Winter dandruff is not just dried scalp that is shedding in flakes but an infected scalp that is scabbing due to harmful bacteria. Dandruff-causing bacteria and fungi feed on the roots of your hair, the protein, keratin, and other nutrients, and leave it heavily damaged. Therefore, it is important to practise thorough hair care, especially in winter, as it is much easier to contract and worsen your dandruff problem in this season. However, there are various remedies, home and medical, that can help you solve this problem for once and for all.

If your scalp is yet untouched with dandruff, then we recommend keeping it that way. Follow these tips to enjoy an itch-less, pristine scalp for the rest of your life:

Maintain good hygiene: Regularly shampoo your hair and scalp. How often you should shampoo may vary depending on your hair type and lifestyle, but generally, at least two to three times a week is recommended.

Use a gentle shampoo: Choose a mild, pH-balanced shampoo that suits your hair type. Harsh or strongly scented shampoos can sometimes irritate the scalp and contribute to dandruff.

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Scalp massage: While shampooing, gently massage your scalp with your fingertips. This can help remove dead skin cells and improve circulation.

Avoid hot water: Hot water can strip your scalp of its natural oils, leading to dryness. Use lukewarm or cool water when washing your hair.

Limit styling products: Excessive use of hair styling products, such as gels, sprays, or waxes, can contribute to dandruff. If you use them, make sure to clean your hair thoroughly afterward.

Healthy diet: Eating a balanced diet that includes nutrients like zinc, B vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids can promote a healthy scalp. A healthy diet contributes to overall skin health.

Limit sugar and yeast intake: Some studies suggest that high sugar and yeast consumption may contribute to dandruff in some individuals. Reducing your intake of sugary foods and processed carbohydrates might help.

Stay hydrated: Dehydration can lead to dry skin, including a dry scalp. Ensure you drink an adequate amount of water to keep your skin and scalp well-hydrated.

Winter dandruff, once contracted, is difficult to reduce and keep down. Fortunately, it is something that can be easily controlled in the safety of your home. Here are some handy home remedies to address winter dandruff:

Warm oil scalp massage: Warm natural oils like coconut oil, olive oil, or almond oil and gently massage them into your scalp. Leave it on for 30 minutes to an hour before shampooing. This can help moisturise your scalp and reduce dryness.

Aloe Vera: Apply fresh aloe vera gel directly to your scalp. Aloe vera has soothing and moisturising properties that can alleviate itching and flakiness.

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Tea tree oil: Add a few drops of tea tree oil to your regular shampoo. Tea tree oil has antifungal properties and can help combat dandruff.

Yoghurt and lemon mask: Mix yoghurt with a few drops of lemon juice and apply it to your scalp. Leave it on for about 15-20 minutes before rinsing. The lactic acid in yoghurt can help exfoliate the scalp.

Apple cider vinegar rinse: Dilute apple cider vinegar with water (1:1) and use it as a final rinse after shampooing. The acidity can help balance the pH of your scalp and reduce dandruff.

Baking soda scrub: Create a paste by mixing water and baking soda. Gently scrub your scalp with this paste to exfoliate dead skin cells. Rinse thoroughly and follow with conditioner.

Onion juice: While the smell might not be pleasant, onion juice can be effective in treating dandruff. Apply onion juice to your scalp, leave it on for 30 minutes, and then shampoo as usual.

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Shampoo regularly but not excessively: Maintaining good scalp hygiene is crucial. Shampoo your hair regularly, but avoid excessive washing, which can strip your scalp of its natural oils.

Cleaner scalp with clinical help: Address winter dandruff medically

Once winter dandruff becomes a chronic problem, it can lead to a plethora of problems, from hair loss to acne. If you have reached this stage, where the dandruff is really stubborn and seems impossible to get rid off, you need to call in professional help. Your trichologist/doctor will probably recommend you one of the following remedies to winter dandruff:

a. Zinc pyrithione shampoos: These shampoos contain zinc pyrithione as the active ingredient and are effective in controlling dandruff and reducing the itching and flaking associated with it. Brands like Head & Shoulders offer zinc pyrithione shampoos.

b. Selenium sulphide Sshampoos: Selenium sulphide shampoos can help reduce dandruff by slowing down the growth of the yeast Malassezia. Selsun Blue is a well-known brand that offers this type of shampoo.

c. Salicylic acid shampoos: Shampoos containing salicylic acid help in exfoliating dead skin cells from the scalp, reducing flakiness. Neutrogena T/Gel is a popular option.

d. Coal tar shampoos: Coal tar shampoos, such as Neutrogena T/Sal, can be effective in treating dandruff. They work by slowing down the skin cell turnover on the scalp.

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a. Ketoconazole: Ketoconazole is an antifungal agent that can be found in prescription-strength shampoos. These shampoos are effective for dandruff caused by the yeast Malassezia. Nizoral is a well-known brand.

b. Corticosteroids: In some cases, your dermatologist may prescribe corticosteroid shampoos or lotions to reduce inflammation and itching associated with dandruff.

c. Topical steroids: For severe cases of dandruff, your doctor may prescribe topical corticosteroids, which can help reduce inflammation and itching. These should be used under medical supervision.

d. Antifungal creams: In addition to shampoos, antifungal creams containing ingredients like ketoconazole or ciclopirox can be applied to the affected areas on the scalp.

e. Oral medications: In rare cases, when dandruff is extremely severe and resistant to other treatments, a dermatologist may prescribe oral antifungal medications like fluconazole or itraconazole.


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