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Home Remedies May Help Dandruff

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Q. I am desperate for help with my dandruff. The flakes are driving me crazy!

A. Dandruff can cause itching and flaking of the scalp that is both uncomfortable and unsightly. When it gets really bad, dermatologists call it seborrheic dermatitis.

Scientists now think that bad dandruff is caused by a yeast infection (Malassezia). This fungus can even cause inflammation around eyebrows and the creases of the nose, lips and ears.

Although there are many dandruff shampoos, we continue to hear from readers that they get relief using home remedies such as Listerine soaks, Vicks VapoRub, milk of magnesia or dilute vinegar rinses. We are sending you our Guide to Hair and Nail Care for more details on these remedies and other ways of dealing with dandruff.

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When I moved from NY to Ohio many years ago, my mild dandruff reacted by becoming quite severe, even spreading to my eyebrows. The medication prescribed by the dermatologist only helped a little. A friend told me he used witch hazel every day.

Of course he did not have to worry about putting his hair up! I poured the witch hazel thru my hair every night, then set it with bobby pins. The set took better and the dandruff disappeared. I used it for a long time until my skin turned dry as I aged and I no longer needed it.

After trying absolutely everything for severe dandruff, I finally found a regimen that seems to work very well: After wetting my hair, I give my scalp a soak with 1/3 vinegar, 1/3 hydrogen peroxide, and 1/3 water (don't worry, the hydrogen peroxide won't change the color of your hair). I leave it in for about 2 minutes and then wash my hair/scalp with a non-scented clarifying shampoo. I stay FAR AWAY from all types of conditioners, as they make the problem much worse. After drying I use the generic version of Scalpicin which is 3% Acetic Acid.

I'm past menopause, so my hair is quite dry. Since conditioners make the problem worse I use baby lotion on my hair and it works very well.

Put some tea tree oil in your conditioner and massage it into your scalp. Leave it on a few minutes and then rinse with cool water (don't use hot water which is drying). It tingles just like Head and Shoulders shampoo but it's better for you because it won't dry out your skin or hair, unlike the shampoo.

What is the ratio of tea tree oil to conditioner?

I would say just a drop or 2, maybe 3. It does not take much. I used a teaspoon in a 16oz spray bottle full of water to spray my baby's bottom @ diaper changes. When I started doing that, his diaper rash went away & NEVER came back! (At least I think it was just a tea spoon. You can google tea tree oil uses, etc. & see.)

PEOPLE'S PHARMACY RESPONSE: The Australians have been studying tea tree oil (the tree is native there) together with lavender oil against a different cause of scalp itch: lice. Seems to work better than the standard treatments. Here are the abstracts:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21864348

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20727129

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