How To Get Rid of Dandruff

These dermatologist tips and natural remedies should help.
Michelle Villett
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These dermatologist tips and natural remedies should help.

Dandruff only happens to men—usually older and possibly balding and slightly overweight men. Right?

Wrong. Chicks can get it too: one of my buds (and she is HAWT) has had the condition for years now. (Although she, like most females, is more likely to call it "dry scalp," which is slightly more socially acceptable than the D-word, dandruff.)

Summer, in fact, is the worst time for scalp woes. We sweat more, which makes hair follicles get inflamed and itchy, and thanks to the heat, your scalp can feel more sensitive and irritated. You can even complicate things by developing an icky condition called folliculitis, where you get reddish, pimple-like spots or whiteheads on the scalp. Shudder!

What to do? Most people, my friend included, tend to reach for a product (typically a zinc-based shampoo) to cure the condition. While that's definitely smart, you may need more help. Here's what a derm and an ND have to say:

Dermatologist tips for dandruff

First, the derm. These tips are from Dr. Vince Bertucci, a Toronto-based dermatologist and special consultant to Head & Shoulders:

  • Protect your scalp from the sun. Wear a wide-brimmed hat and try to minimize sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. when the sun is at its peak. (Obviously, you should be wearing a sunscreen with SPF 30 or greater on your face and body.)
  • Don't rub or scratch your scalp. This may aggravate dandruff and compound the problem. Avoid picking off those scales. Rubbing and scratching can lead to inflammation, irritation, redness and even folliculitis.

If these tips don't help, make sure you see a derm to get properly diagnosed. (This is why my friend STILL has the condition, folks!) You could have dandruff OR it could be seborrheic dermatitis, a fungal infection, eczema or psoriasis. Some of the prescription treatments your doctor may recommend include topical corticosteroids lotions, shampoos containing anti-fungal agents or other prescription products.

Natural remedies for dandruff

Now! Here's where things get interesting, because I'm a firm believer (even though I'm not a doctor!) that conditions like dandruff relate in some way to a nutritional deficiency.

My naturopathic doctor, Natasha Turner of Clear Medicine in Toronto, recently published some tips on her blog about using supplements to treat dandruff, so I wanted to share the nutrients she recommends.

(Remember that I'm not an MD, so consult with your own doc before taking any of these.)

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  • Zinc citrate: Deficiencies of zinc (the typical dose is 25 to 50 mg per day) can cause dandruff. Zinc (as well as vitamin A) is also very important for oil regulation in the skin and useful in the treatment and prevention of acne.
  • Biotin: Dandruff may also be caused by a deficiency of biotin (usual dose is 1000 mcg per day).
  • Vitamin C: 1 to 2 grams per day is great for tissue healing and repair.
  • Vitamin E: Also good for tissue healing/repair, and is very moisturizing.
  • Fish oil concentrate: EPA/DHA oils are very useful for all types of skin conditions. Two-four capsules a day of a pharmaceutical-strength product such as Clear Omega (available from Clear Medicine's online store) can easily meet your needs.

As for diet, Turner recommends considering a gluten-free and dairy-free diet for one month if the diagnosis is eczema, seborrheic dermatitis or psoriasis. She says: "Many, if not all, of these conditions respond to elimination diets and are often related to food allergies."

Neat, huh? So now... over to YOU.

Do you suffer from dandruff "dry scalp"? What has worked for you?