Dandruff is commonly associated with dry scalp because it appears on the head in small, white flakes. Pityriasis capitis, the medical name for dandruff, is caused by dead skin cells on the head that shed in order for new skin cells to renew themselves. When dandruff appears, it is because a greater number of dead skin cells are being shed, usually in large clumps that can be seen by the eye.
Common stipulations about what causes dandruff arise from products that usually dry out the skin like shampoos and soaps. Because some people believe their shampoo is the source of the problem, many dandruff sufferers only wash their hair every other day, rather than every day. This is not the answer!
Many of my patients have dandruff and have difficulty clearing it up even if they shampoo with over the counter dandrff shampoo such as Head and Shoulders. Testing the patient usually indicates that the dandruff is commonly caused by a fungal infection on the scalp called Malassezia. Malassezia is a fungus that can be found on the scalps of many healthy adults, and normally does not pose a problem. However sometimes it can grow out of control and feed on the oils in hair, causing more skin cells to grow, and eventually more skin cells to shed. For example, when you do not shampoo every day the hair becomes oily giving the fungus something to feed on. As more and more skin cells grow and shed, they clump together with the oil, causing tiny flakes that appear on your shoulders and neck.
My remedy for dandruff is to wash your hair with tea tree oil shampoo every day, which is a very effective fungal antiseptic. At night, soak your scalp with coconut oil, sleep on it with a towel over your pillow, and wash it out in the morning with the tea tree oil shampoo. If you do this regularly, within a week your skin on your scalp will be cleaner and less flaky. Also be sure to get in plenty of omega-3’s, which can be found in fish and flax oil. Omega-3 oils are very effective in treating dry scalp and skin!