How to get rid of dandruff: solutions that really work

Find out how to get rid of dandruff and prevent it reappearing

how to get rid of dandruff
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Dandruff can be a very unpleasant condition to deal with, and many people struggle with dandruff for years before they find a solution. The truth about learning how to get rid of dandruff is that you will likely have to do lots of trial and error before you find what really works for you. Do be encouraged, though: there's no need to live with dandruff long term; it really can be eradicated.

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1. Identify the cause of your dandruff

This is by far the most important step in getting rid of dandruff, because if you don't know what's causing it, you won't be able to treat it effectively. It's probably easiest to identify the root of the problem by method of elimination, but if you really don't know, consult a GP or dermatologist.

Dandruff issues are caused by a compromised scalp, but you will need to understand how and why your scalp is compromised. If you wash your hair every day and have dandruff, your scalp is probably too dry, which is causing the dreaded flakes. Try washing your hair less frequently, with a gentle, ph-balanced shampoo.

On the other hand, if you don't wash your hair often, your dandruff will be the result of a buildup of dead skin cells on your scalp, and, in more severe cases, a bacterial infection. If you rarely wash your hair and have dandruff, increase washing and use a deeper cleanse each time, for example with a scalp scrub. 

Have fine, oily hair and scalp? You may be using a shampoo that's too rich and will need something lighter.

Finally, if none of these applies to you, you may need to consult your GP or dermatologist about a possible yeast infection, eczema, or even a fungal infection. In rare cases, people have also mistaken lice for dandruff, particularly if they have young children who may have picked up lice on a school trip. If swapping your products and hair washing routine isn't making any difference after a few weeks, consult a doctor.  

2. Find the best anti-dandruff product and stick with it

Depending on what type of scalp you have – oily, dry, or sensitive and prone to redness – you will need to invest in a hair product that's a bit different from the regular shampoo you're using. Many people find that a scrub is very helpful for exfoliating and leaving the scalp fresh; others swear by specific shampoo formulations. Mild and ph balanced products are especially important if you're itchy and your scalp is red and irritated.

3. Avoid stress – and don't scratch

Stress can exacerbate dandruff, so reducing it is likely to help you keep dandruff under control (along with lots of other benefits). Stress can also create a vicious cycle with dandruff because many people find themselves scratching their scalp as a form of stress-relieving behaviour. If you think you might be suffering from anxiety, contact your GP or a licensed mental health practitioner.

4. Take a closer look at your diet

In some cases, the true cause of dandruff has less to do with hair washing routines and more with what you eat – or, to be more precise, with what you don't eat enough of. A deficiency in omega-3, vitamin B6 or zinc can lead to a flaky, itchy scalp; it's likely that you will be suffering other symptoms such as brittle nails and dry or dull skin. If this is you, try to increase your intake of these nutrients via foods such as oily fish, chicken, seafood, and fresh vegetables. Or try supplements, preferably after a consultation with a nutritionist. 

5. Should you use apple cider vinegar for dandruff?

The answer is: you can try apple cider vinegar for dandruff, because there are anecdotal reports that it can help, but be careful with how you use it. never use undiluted ACV on your scalp, as it could cause more irritation. Don't expect miracle results either: there's no real evidence that proves the effectiveness of AV for this issue.

Anna is Content Editor at Real Homes. She moved to the world of interiors from academic research in the field of English Literature and photography. She is the author of London Writing of the 1930s and has a passion for contemporary home decor and gardening. At Real Homes, she covers a range of topics, from practical advice to interior and garden design.