How to get rid of dandruff in four simple steps- know from dermatologist

Written By Dr Surbhi, MD Skin

Last updated: 19/09/18

"Doctor, How to get rid of dandruff, I have tried almost all the brands of anti-dandruff shampoos, but dandruff still comes back?”


But, how do you apply anti-dandruff shampoo on your scalp? For how long do you leave it? How frequently can you use such shampoos? Are there any remedies from the kitchen shelf that can keep dandruff at the bay? Should you oil your hair to reduce dandruff? Did you know that anti-dandruff shampoos alone might not help all the cases of dandruff especially if it is severe or if it is turning into seborrhoeic dermatitis? Also understanding what causes dandruff is critical before following these four-step guide on how to get rid of dandruff.

Check out: Dermatocare Reviews on the Top Anti-Dandruff Products

STEP 1: Use OTC Anti-dandruff shampoo

Instead of medicated shampoos, anti-dandruff shampoos (like head and shoulders) available in the market should be tried first because we would like to save medicated shampoos for later if they stop benefitting. These anti-dandruff shampoos act by preventing the growth of fungus with the help of following active ingredients:

  • ZPTO or Zinc pyrithione is the active agent in most anti-dandruff shampoos available in the market including the popular brand, Head & Shoulders. Besides anti-fungal action, it reduces oil production and normalises skin turnover.
  • Nutrium 10 is present in Clear shampoos. The manufacturers claim that Nutrium 10 is innovative technology that treats dandruff at the root; nourishes the scalp to eliminate flakes, soothes dryness and repairs the scalp barriers to strengthening its natural resistance and has the benefits of pro-vitamins, minerals and sunflower oils. (Source- Clear website).

Dandruff is usually associated with oily hair. Thus, you should wash your hair daily or as soon as they get greasy. And leave the anti-dandruff shampoo on your scalp for 5-10 minutes before rinsing. These shampoos are drying, and conditioners might be needed, but only on the strands of hair starting at the level of your ears.

STEP 2:  Try natural home remedies for dandruff

The list of home remedies is vast, but I am listing the one with some scientific evidence:

  • Aloe vera: It can be applied on scalp surface and rinsed off after an hour; alternatively aloe-vera based shampoos can be used.
  • Neem: Neem leaves have anti-fungal action and can be used after boiling them in water.
  • Tea-tree oil: Tea-tree oil is antiseptic and can be can be applied to the scalp either diluted with oil or tea-tree oil based shampoo can be used.
  • Lemon juice or vinegar: Either of these can be used after dilution in oil.
  • You can also try these ayurvedic anti-dandruff oils with many active ingredients available in the market.

Discontinue these remedies if they cause irritation, burning or reddening of your scalp and see your dermatologist.

STEP 3: Use medicated anti-dandruff shampoo available without prescription

Try medicated anti-dandruff shampoo available with the chemists, like:

  • Selenium sulphide based shampoo: Selsun shampoo available online in India and US.
  • Salicylic acid-based shampoo: They loosen adhesion between skin cells and thus reduce dandruff. They are available online in India and US.
  • Ketaconazole based shampoo: They are available online in India and US.

These medicated shampoos should be used correctly, here are the steps you should follow:   

  • Thoroughly clean your scalp with ZPTO based anti-dandruff or even ordinary shampoo.
  • Apply medicated anti-dandruff shampoo on the scalp and not along the hair length. Keep the lather for 5-10 minutes followed by rinsing. 
  • Since these medicated shampoos are drying, conditioner should be applied to strands of the hair starting at the level of your ears.
  • You might need a drop or two of serum to settle fizzy and dry hair because most of the medicated shampoos are drying in nature.

STEP 4: Consult your dermatologist

If dandruff still refuses to say goodbye, you might have seborrhoeic dermatitis; and for its management, Dermatologist visit is highly recommended. Or you might not have dandruff at all! You might be having flaky scalp associated with dry hair instead. In this situation, the anti-dandruff shampoos can indeed worsen your problem. 


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