Dandruff Is Caused By A Bacteria, Not A Fungus – 6 Natural Remedies That Work
Could the species of bacteria living on your scalp determine whether you get dandruff or dry itchy scalp? Previous research thought the condition that affects more than 50 percent of Caucasians and 80 percent of people of African descent was caused by fungus, but now researchers claim bacteria is the real culprit.
Zhijue Xu of Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China and his colleagues have found that the presence of dandruff is more closely linked to excess growth of Staphylococcus bacteria and competition between bacteria.
The researchers swabbed the scalps of 363 adults with and without dandruff, and used DNA sequencing to compare their fungal and bacterial profiles.
Surprisingly, the compositions of scalp fungi in the two groups were almost identical. In both cases, the Malassezia restricta strain comprised about 90 per cent of total scalp fungus.
But bacteria revealed a different story. People with dandruff had higher amounts of Staphylococcus, and much less of a different type of bacteria — Propionibacterium — than those who didn’t. Their findings suggest that the microbial balance on your head may determine whether you have dandruff.
The scalps of dandruff sufferers also had less water on their surface, and smaller amounts of oily sebum secretions. But we don’t yet know which came first — does excess Staphylococcus lead to a dry scalp and dandruff, or do these conditions encourage Staphylococcus growth in the first place?
“That’s the bit that’s hard to unravel,” says Bernie Hudson of the University of Sydney, Australia. “There are probably lots of different factors at play.”
Most Medicated Shampoos Not Effective
Today, the most widely used dandruff remedy is zinc-pyrithione shampoo, which has antifungal properties, but is not particularly effective in addressing bacterial imbalances. Zinc pyrithione is toxic to aquatic wildlife, with long term environmental effects and like any other drug, pyrithione zinc has potential side effects such as: skin and eye irritation, allergic reactions (rashes or hives), and even hair loss.
You can treat dandruff naturally by topical agents, boosting your immune system by populating your gut with healthy bacteria found in fermented foods and probiotic beverages. Diet is one of the most effective and straightforward means to activating and regulating the immune system while giving your body the tools it needs for repair, but topical applications appear as effective and often produce greater results for those already with dandruff or itchy scalp.
Here are 6 worthy topical natural remedies that work:
1. OLIVE OIL
An overnight olive oil soak is an effective folk remedy for dandruff. Massage about 10 drops into your scalp and cover with a shower cap overnight. Follow your regular shampoo routine in the morning. For a quicker cure, look for a shampoo that contains olive oil.
Just massage 2 tablespoons lemon juice into your scalp and rinse with water. Then stir 1 teaspoon lemon juice into 1 cup water and rinse your hair with it. Repeat this daily until your dandruff disappears. Lemon’s acidity helps balance the pH of your scalp, which helps keeps dandruff at bay.
3. COCONUT OIL
Apply this remedy for dandruff which is not triggered by excessive oil production. Massage coconut oil into the scalp, leave it on for a few minutes, and then rinse with water. You can repeat this procedure for at least 2 to 3 times a week.
4. APPLE CIDER VINEGAR
Dr. Mehmet Oz swears by apple cider vinegar as a dandruff treatment, as the acidity of apple cider vinegar changes the pH of your scalp, making it harder for yeast to grow. Mix a quarter cup apple cider vinegar with a quarter cup water in a spray bottle and spritz on your scalp. Wrap your head in a towel and let sit for 15 minutes to an hour, then wash your hair as usual. Do this twice a week.
5. BAKING SODA
Wet your hair and then rub a handful of baking soda vigorously into your scalp. Skip the shampoo and go right to rinsing. Baking soda reduces overactive fungi that can cause dandruff. Your hair may get dried out at first, but after a few weeks your scalp will start producing natural oils, leaving your hair softer and free of flakes.
6. TEA TREE OIL
Mixture of tea tree oil with a carrier like almond oil can provide lasting relief from many skin related problems. One study showed that shampoos with just 5 percent tea tree oil significantly improves the severity of dandruff.