That sudden impulse to scratch your scalp in public! Are you recalling the last time this happened and how a deposit of white flakes ended up in your nails and shoulders? Dandruff can be a total nightmare, right? And those chemical-laden shampoos from the market are worsening your scalp health?
We can relate with your struggles. In traditional Ayurveda, this condition is termed as 'Darunak'.
"Dandruff is a complex problem in ayurveda, and every case of dandruff may have a different cause. Regardless of its complexity, it is grouped under Kshudra rogas - diseases that can be easily cured,” says Dr. Zeel Gandhi, Chief Ayurvedic Doctor at Vedix.
So, let’s see how you can have a dandruff-free scalp with the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda.
What Are The Symptoms Of Dandruff?
In general, the dead skin cells on a healthy scalp flake off in a month. But if you have the dandruff condition, the scaling happens every 2-7 days . According to Ayurveda, Daranak or dandruff is associated with the following symptoms:
- White scales like structures (flakes)
- Dryness of scalp (Dry Dandruff)
- Oily or greasy scalp (Oily Dandruff)
- Softness in the scalp skin
- Inflammation of the eyelids in some cases
Even hair loss associated with scalp numbness is one of the symptoms of dandruff or daranak.
What Causes Dandruff According to Ayurveda?
In Kshudra Roga-Daranakam (the category of Ayurveda which deals with Dandruff), the condition is explained as a Tridosha disease, i.e., imbalance in all your three doshas (bodily forces).
When you have dry dandruff, it is predominantly due to the aggravated state of Vata and Pitta doshas. The increased Pitta and Vata doshas dry up the natural oils on the scalp (diminishing in Kapha dosha). Thus, the malnourished scalp cells and tissues pile up and flake-off as Dandruff.
Similarly, when you have wet/oily dandruff, it is caused by the imbalance in Kapha-Vata-Pitta doshas, predominantly Kapha dosha that causes excess sebum production. The oily deposits of sebum thickens the scalp. And, aggravated Pitta contributes to smelly scalp secretions which attract pathogens while imbalance Vata causes irritation and scratchy sensation. Thus, oily dandruff is often accompanied by fungal infections.
So you need to know the underlying root-cause by analyzing your Dosha levels.
Now let's look into a few other factors which can worsen your dandruff condition, if not taken care of.
1. Not Shampooing Enough
When you do not shampoo your hair regularly, the accumulation of dead skin cells keeps increasing on your scalp. This in turn may invite various bacteria and microbes that cause different infections on your scalp. The foremost action you need to take to fight dandruff is to keep your scalp clean with minimum deal cell accumulation through regular use of Ayurvedic shampoos/hair cleansers.
But, keep in mind to not over use shampoo as that may also worsen the condition. It is better to maintain your hair washing frequency 2-3 times a week when you have dry dandruff and about 3-4 times a week if you have oily dandruff.
2. Seborrheic Dermatitis
Seborrheic Dermatitis is a condition on your scalp caused by a fungus called Malassezia. It is associated with greasy scalp and white or yellow flakes. The fungus normally feeds on the oils secreted by the hair follicles. But, in a few cases, the fungus may become overactive. This triggers scalp irritation, production of extra skin cells and greasy dandruff.It is one of the most common conditions when you have oily dandruff.
3. Skin Conditions
People with certain skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, Tinea Capitis and other autoimmune skin disorders may have more tendency to get dandruff than others. Also, people with dry skin (aggravated Vata condition) are prone to dandruff. You may have more itchy and flaking scalp skin during winters when Vata dosha spikes up more than any other time of the year.
When your diet does not include nutrients like Zinc, B-complex vitamins or omega-3 fatty acids, it may increase the risk of adverse dandruff due to Vata aggravation. You need to include good oils, protein, green vegetables, etc. in your diet to nourish your scalp from inside.
“Artificial colours, flavours and excessive use of spices can trigger scalp inflammations causing dandruff. And many a times, in spite of a wholesome diet, derangement of Pitta, stemming from stress and lack of proper rest can cause dandruff,” says Dr. Zeel.
5. Age Factor
Although dandruff is a lifelong battle, it is observed more during adolescence than at any other point. According to Ayurveda, in the life span of an individual, childhood is kapha dominant, middle age is pitta dominant and old age is vata dominant. At adolescence, the body undergoes transitioning from kapha to pitta kaal (phase) and this conjunction of both the doshas creates a spike in acne and oily dandruff.
6. Mental Stress
Ayurveda believes that when one is stressed, the immune defenses are lowered and Pitta dosha is on rise. ‘’The dandruff causing fungi are a part of the normal human biome (commensal) on the scalp. But when one is stressed, the lowered defenses cause the proliferation of this fungi . Also, circulating Pitta triggers more sebum production, providing more food for the growth of the pathogens,” says Dr. Zeel.
Did You Know?
Even Dinosaurs had to deal with dandruff problems just like us! Recent studies revealed that the fossils of dinosaurs from 125 million years ago consists of tiny flakes of dandruff. So dandruff has been a problem on Earth way before we showed up!
How To Treat Dandruff Through Ayurveda?
Ayurveda bestows you with both topical and internal natural medicinal solutions for both Pitta-Vata as well as Kapha-Vata dandruff types. While the topical Ayurvedic herbal solutions relieve you from itching and infections, internal medicines help you improve scalp immunity through detoxification and nourishment.
1. Topical Remedies For Dry Dandruff
A. Black pepper
With high content of vitamin C, black pepper can act as an effective cleanser that gets rid of dead cells efficiently.
How To Use:
- Mix a pinch of black pepper powder in coconut oil or virgin olive oil. Apply this mixture to your hair roots and leave it for an hour before rinsing it off using cold water.
The cooling properties of camphor can make it your much needed relief from itchy and irritated scalp of dry dandruff.
How To Use:
- Mix a small amount of camphor in coconut oil and keep it in a bottle. You can apply this oil every day before going to bed. Camphor cools your scalp and works best as an antifungal agent to fight dandruff.
Honey hydrates your scalp and combats against conditions of itchiness and dryness when you have dry dandruff.
How To Use:
- Blend 3 teaspoons of honey and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. Apply this mixture on your scalp thoroughly and leave it for about 20 - 30 minutes. Then, wash it off with lukewarm water and Ayurvedic herbal shampoo. Applying honey to your scalp once in 3-4 days will give the best results in fighting dry dandruff.
Yoghurt can be an effective remedy to fight dandruff for any hair type.
How To Use:
- Mix half cup of yoghurt with two portions of egg white. Apply this mixture as a hair mask across your scalp. Let it set about half an hour before washing it off.
Mix half cup of yoghurt with papaya pulp and apply it to your hair roots. Leave it for about 45 minutes and rinse it off with Ayurvedic herbal shampoo.
E. Curry Leaves
Curry leaves are best known to fight dry dandruff conditions with its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.
How To Use:
- Soak 15-20 curry leaves in water for about 15 minutes. Crush them to form paste and mix it with 2 -3 tablespoons of yogurt. Apply this hair mask throughout your scalp and leave it for 20-30 minutes before rinsing it off with lukewarm water.
Onion juice is one of the best ingredients to treat dry dandruff for its extraordinary Vata-pacifying capabilities.
How To Use:
- Blend the onion pieces and strain out the juice into a glass bottle. Apply this juice throughout your scalp and leave it for about 30 minutes before washing it off with Ayurvedic herbal shampoo. For best results, follow this remedy at least once in a week.
G. Aloe Vera
It is believed that Aloe vera  helps to treat conditions like psoriasis, cold sores, burns, etc. very effectively with its antifungal and antibacterial properties.
How To Use:
- Take a thick gel extracted naturally from the aloe vera plant and spread it across your scalp. Leave it overnight and wash it off the next morning with an Ayurvedic or herbal shampoo.
- Mix one tablespoon of aloe vera gel and one tablespoon of coconut milk. Apply this paste into your scalp and leave it for 20 minutes before rinsing it off with Ayurvedic herbal shampoo.
2. Topical Remedies For Oily Dandruff
A. Methika (Fenugreek)
You can consider Methika or fenugreek seeds as one of the top remedies to control dandruff naturally.
How To Use:
- Soak fenugreek seeds overnight and make it into a paste the next morning. You can also add other Ayurvedic anti-fungal herbs like henna, lime juice or yogurt into the paste and apply to your scalp. Leave the paste on your scalp for 30 minutes and rinse it with an Ayurvedic Shampoo based on your Prakriti.
- You can also heat fenugreek seeds in coconut oil. Strain the oil and massage your scalp with warm Methika oil for almost 15-20 minutes a night before your hair wash.
B. Nimbuka (Citrus Lemon)
Lemon contains vitamin C, citric acid, zinc, and Flavonoids, making it ideal for Ayurvedic anti-dandruff treatment. It is rich in antioxidants with antifungal and antibacterial properties.
How To Use:
- Mix fresh lemon juice, olive oil and fresh ginger juice in equal quantities. Apply this mixture on your scalp roots and gently massage for a few minutes. Leave your hair for an hour and rinse it off.
- Prepare a hair mask by mixing lemon peel powder, multani mitti and sandalwood powder in equal quantities. Apply the paste on to your scalp and leave it for an hour before washing off.
C. Green Gram
The green gram or mung bean can be used as a herbal alternative to anti-dandruff shampoo.
How To Use:
- Apply green gram paste across your scalp and leave it for 15 minutes before washing it off with lukewarm water.
- For oily hair, you can add some curd into the paste and apply before washing it off with Ayurvedic or herbal shampoo.
D. Snake Gourd
Snake Gourd  helps in keeping your scalp hydrated and detoxify it, thus, curbing dandruff growth.
How To Use:
- Massage your scalp with the juice of Snake Gourd and leave it for half an hour before washing it off with Ayurvedic or herbal shampoo.
E. Nimba (Neem)
It is best known for its antifungal and antiviral properties, which help you fight dandruff.
How To Use:
- Simply massage your scalp with Neem oil a night before your hair wash.
- Mix a paste of Neem leaves into the bowl of curd and apply that all over your scalp. Leave it for 15-20 minutes before you rinse it off.
- Mix neem powder with dry amla powder, shikkakai powder and reetha powder in equal quantities to make a thick paste. Apply it on the scalp and wash it off an hour later.
Hibiscus is popular for its dandruff-treating properties, besides lots of other hair benefits.
How To Use:
- Boil 5-6 hibiscus flowers in water and churn them later into a thick paste. Add 3 tablespoons of warm coconut oil into the paste and apply it onto the scalp and hair. Leave the pack for 1-2 hours before washing it with warm water.
Amla is one of the strongest sources of vitamin C and great for dandruff-laden scalp.
How To Use:
- Prepare a paste from Amla powder, Tulsi leaves and water. Apply the mask thoroughly across the scalp and wash it off after 30 minutes.
H. Chandan (Sandalwood)
Sandalwood oil has strong astringent properties, which aids in controlling the excess sebum production on your scalp. Further, it also treats your split ends and promotes your hair growth.
How To Use:
- You can mix Sandalwood oil with lime juice and use this mixture to gently massage your scalp for a few minutes before washing it off.
Krishnatulasi is one of the most used Ayurvedic herbs for oily dandruff for its antimicrobial properties. Also, it soothes your scalp irritation with its cooling properties and enhances blood circulation on your scalp.
How To Use:
- Apply coconut-based Krishna tulsi hair oil on your scalp and massage your hair for 5 minutes. After 30 minutes, wash your scalp and hair with Ayurvedic herbal shampoo.
Avoid using oils that contain paraffin and minerals as they cause unwanted side effects.
3. Ayurvedic Supplements For Dandruff
In case your diet lacks the required nutrients that help to keep your dandruff in control naturally, you can prefer the following Ayurvedic supplements under the guidance of your Ayurvedic doctor based on your health condition and dosha imbalances.
- Mahamanjisthadi Kadha
- Surakta Syrup
- Amalaki rasayan
- Chalmogra Oil
- Neem Capsules
- Arogyavardhini Vati
- Gandhak Rasayana
- Guduchyadi Taila
- Kaishore Guggulu
4. Yoga For Dandruff
Here are some yoga asanas (poses) which can be beneficial to keep your dandruff levels in control.
A. Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose)
Vajrasana relieves you from stress, which is one of the key factors for dandruff and improves blood circulation, thus keeping your scalp healthy.
B. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Dog Pose)
This pose also increases blood circulation to your brain, in turn improving your scalp condition and thereby controlling dandruff.
C. Balayam Yoga (Rubbing Nails)
Balayam Yoga cures dandruff and premature greying by pumping energy to the roots of hair follicles that are connected to the nails.
D. Chakrasana (Wheel Pose )
Chakrasana supplies abundant oxygen to your scalp, which minimizes dandruff.
E. Chin mudra ( Gyan Mudra)
Chin Mudra or Gyan Mudra helps you fight stress, and depression, thus keeping your doshas and dandruff under control.
Before you try these treatments, you need to find your doshas which are in an aggravated condition to personalize your Ayurvedic solutions that pacify specific dosha levels.
Things To Avoid For Dandruff-Free Scalp
1. Avoid Eating Unhealthy
Avoid eating foods with excess sugar, salt and spice. People with excess dandruff may need to avoid dairy products, meat, hot and penetrating foods, junk and aerated drinks as they may worsen the condition of dandruff.
In traditional Ayurveda, people with conditions like psoriasis and eczema are suggested to avoid gluten or wheat, tomatoes, nuts, spices, eggs, dairy, citrus fruits, soy, etc.
2. Don’t Wash Hair With Hot Water
Using very hot water to wash your scalp and hair might aggravate Vata dosha, i.e increase in the dryness of the scalp, which may, in turn, result in unwanted dandruff.
3. Don’t Stay Under The Sun For Long
Overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiations from the sun causes sunburn, which damages your scalp skin cells, which your body sheds off as dandruff later.
4. Avoid Excessive Hair Styling Products
Styling products like hair sprays, gels, etc. make your scalp greasy, which gets mixed with dead cells forming oily dandruff. Similarly, usage of hairdryers and chemical hair colors dry out the natural oils in the scalp causing dry dandruff.
5. Avoid Using Unclean Combs Or Brushes
Uncleaned combs or brushes bring various kinds of pathogens in contact with your scalp. Even after successfully treating your dandruff condition (dry /oily), using dirty combs or brushes may again trigger the condition to return, turning it to a chronic condition. Ayurveda suggests you to use clean and dry Neem wood combs when you have dandruff.
Risk Factors Of Dandruff
Although it is rare to have medical complications with Dandruff, one may need to seek immediate medical help in the following conditions:
- If there are signs of infections like swelling, redness, etc. upon using any hair care products for dandruff.
- When severe dandruff persists despite regular home treatments with Ayurvedic formulations. Sometimes, severe dandruff can also be a sign of serious underlying health problems like weakened immune systems (like in case of HIV), Parkinson's disease, etc.
- When there are signs of eczema, psoriasis or other skin conditions.
Ayurveda also provides exclusive medications to fight conditions like psoriasis and eczema which cause dandruff. Please consult your Ayurvedic doctor to obtain internal medicine that targets your condition.
The Last Word
In Ayurveda, the persisting dandruff is often considered as a symptom of a stressed liver. And, you can address the underlying problem through holistic Ayurvedic solutions by understanding the dosha imbalances in your body from time to time. Vedix analyzes your scalp and hair conditions to present you with a customized hair care regimen that helps you resolve hair problems by keeping your Prakriti in balance.Know Your Dosha Now