Dandruff, or seborrheic dermatitis, isn't something you have to white-knuckle through. The drugstore shelves are lined with products that can help soothe your itchy scalp and get rid of those white or yellow flakes. But with dandruff sometimes comes hair fall, and it's no surprise why -- it's impossible to itch the scalp without scratching at your hair follicles. According to a 2012 article in the International Journal of Trichology, after about 45 minutes of scratching your scalp, the cuticle dislodges and hair fall happens. Reduce your risk of hair loss by sticking to a dandruff hair-washing routine and using homemade anti-itch products.
Get the Goods
Your first line of defense against dandruff -- and ultimately hair fall -- is an over-the-counter dandruff shampoo. There are several active ingredients, such as zinc pyrithione, salicylic acid, sulfur, coal tar, selenium sulfide and ketoconazole, but not all will work for your scalp. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends alternating dandruff shampoos for two days in a row until you find one that works. Wash your hair gently at the scalp and make sure to leave the shampoo on for the recommended time. Rinse well with lukewarm water and pat -- never rub -- your hair dry with a clean towel.
Stop the Scratch
Dandruff is caused by an abundance of yeast on the scalp. It's the yeast that creates inflammation and triggers the itching and potential hair fall. Combat the itch by using an over-the-counter anti-itch treatment with 1 percent hydrocortisone, sleep with a humidifier to raise humidity in the house and only wear cotton hats. Once you get the right dandruff shampoo for your body's pH, your scalp will feel less dry and you won't feel the urge to constantly scratch your scalp.
Make Your Own Remedy
Use a homemade remedy in addition to your store-bought dandruff shampoo. Natural products such as baking soda can help you achieve an itch-free scalp. Part long hair into sections and sprinkle a handful of baking soda in different places along your scalp. Rub vigorously for a couple minutes and rinse with cool water. Also try mixing about five drops of tea-tree oil into your shampoo. Tea-tree oil has anti-fungal properties that help itchiness and greasiness. Or, mix equal parts apple-cider vinegar and water in a spray bottle, saturate your scalp and wrap your head in a towel for 15 minutes before cleansing and rinsing.
Check Lifestyle Habits
Stress exacerbates hair loss and contributes to scalp problems, says Florida-based board-certified dermatologist Dr. Gary L. Marder. He advises patients get at least 8 hours of sleep each night and avoid extreme temperatures when possible. Also, try to let your hair air-dry; the less you pull and stretch it the stronger the roots stay. Only use a blow-dryer when necessary to eliminate heat-related scalp stress, and try to stay away from gel and hairspray which can cause scalp dryness, irritation and even more reason to itch.
- National Institute of Health: Hair and Scalp Health: O 1 Hair and Scalp Health for the Dermato-trichologist
- American Academy of Dermatology:
- CNN: Why Is My Scalp So Itchy?
- Reader's Digest: How to Get Rid of Dandruff: 11 Natural Treatments
- Latest-Hairstyles.com: All About What Causes Dandruff (and How to Fix It)
- Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology: Treatment of Dandruff With 5% Tea Tree Oil Shampoo
Based in Los Angeles, Lisa Finn has been writing professionally for 20 years. Her print and online articles appear in magazines and websites such as "Spa Magazine," "L.A. Parent," "Business," the Famous Footwear blog and many others. She also ghostwrites for mompreneurs and business owners who appear regularly on shows such as Ricki Lake, HGTV, Carson Daly and The Today Show.