Business man with dandruff, beard flakes

Q. I am having a problem with dandruff. I have tried everything on the market for it, including a prescription from the dermatologist. Ketoconazole 2% shampoo had a long list of possible side effects that included baldness!

I did use it as directed, though reluctantly. It changed the color of my hair and I had some of the listed side effects. It did absolutely nothing but cause me grief, and I still have the dandruff.

Please tell me about home remedies using milk of magnesia or amber Listerine. I read it, cut it out and misplaced it.

A. Many readers have told us that old-fashioned Listerine can be used to banish dandruff. Others apply milk of magnesia in the shower and let it soak in for a few minutes. Apple cider vinegar is another favorite.

We are sending you our Guide to Hair and Nail Care, with a homemade dandruff shampoo and many other ways to deal with an itchy scalp or unsightly flakes.

Here are a few remedies other readers have used:

“I also have itchy scalp and have found relief using first baking soda + water to ‘wash’ my hair followed by an apple cider vinegar + water rinse to condition/close the cuticle. Best of all, my hair is no longer greasy in between washings, and if I notice it getting a little straw-like from the baking soda, one washing with regular shampoo seems to do the trick. No more itchiness, no more having to shampoo daily, and no more need for conditioners!”

“For 20+ years I struggled to control the constant white flakey curse. After a week vacation swimming daily in the salt water, it miraculously stopped. Upon returning home it came back somewhat so I started rinsing with saline in the shower. Eventually stopped all together and 2 yrs later it never returned. My dermatologist is skeptical but it worked!”

“Hibiclens Antiseptic/Antimicrobial Skin Cleanser (or the cheaper Walgreen brand) has eradicated the chronic itching. Liberally rub it into affected areas, leave for 10+ minutes then shampoo with your regular shampoo.”

“I, too, fought dandruff for decades until at an annual physical my doctor said that instead of dandruff I had scalp psoriasis and suggested Dermarest. That worked, but even better was the maximum nutrition diet prescribed by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. My scalp is clear without the shampoo. Now I can shampoo with what’s best for my hair, I feel better overall, have not had one of my recurring sinus headaches, and I’ve dropped two dress sizes without trying. Go fork medicine!”

Download our Guide to Hair and Nail Care for more details on fighting the fungi that cause dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis or unsightly thick, yellow and brown nails.

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  1. Ricky

    Use hibiclense as a daily shampoo for a few weeks. I prefer the generic because it doesn’t contain the pink dye that can be irritating to some. Do not… Do NOT get it in eyes or mouth. This soap has super bacteria killing powers and will help kill the batcteria that cause the dandruff biproduct in the first place. It will help rebalance the bacteria levels to normal.

  2. Maggie

    I have a very successful treatment for dandruff. I have used it on myself, as I had a terrible case of dandruff caused by my psoriasis. Nothing helped and I was a walking ‘snow storm’ , it was dreadful. Anyways, what I tried was organic Apple Cider Vinegar diluted with some warm water (1/2 cup -3/4 cup ACV & 1/2 cup warm water).
    I would use it when I shampooed, as my rinse. I would let it sit for a couple of minutes or so and then rinse with warm water. After doing this for a few weeks (4-5), I noticed that it was gone completely. I did have immediate results as well, as it just tones it down right away. I think it stops the ‘growth’ cycle. I have passed this recipe to others I know with dandruff issues (no psoriasis related), and it has worked for everyone who has tried it out.
    It is definitely worth a shot.

  3. Joanna P.

    Being 67, I thought my hair and scalp patches and itches were age related. While shopping, I see now several shampoos that list “no silicone” on the front label. Computer search suggest that silicone may cause dandruff and scalp irritations and suggest shampoo with tea tree. I tried the tea tree shampoos and found that tea tree is an excellent scalp cure. Why is it that silicone additives have not been labeled as a source of possible scalp irritations?

  4. eaw

    You might trying drinking a cup or two of oolong tea. That has helped me.
    Took about 4-6 weeks but now I only drink one cup every week or so.
    Will have to admit it took a few cups to get use to oolong tea.

  5. s.h.

    I only get dandruff when I use certain shampoos.
    Years ago I paid good money for a very well respected brand of Salon shampoo; one that was to normalize the scalp.
    The first time I used it, things were just O.K., but after a few uses my scalp began to feel waxy and I developed bad dandruff. My dandruff and scalp got worse as time and use progressed. I stopped using it and changed to another shampoo and things got better. Because it was years ago and formulas and our bodies can change, again, I tried using the same brand of foo-foo-salon shampoo and the waxy scalp and dandruff came back.
    There are a few other shampoos that cause dandruff, as far as I can tell, and one is a famous brand dandruff shampoo. Yep.
    Here is a home remedy given me by a nurse practitioner who also helped out residents of nursing homes. Using selson blue—regular formula—apply to a dry scalp, all over. Just massage all over the scalp and leave on 15 minutes, or so, then shower/shampoo as usual. Remarkable clearing of any dandruff fungal problems.

  6. Paul 43

    I would like to hear more about these different remedies.

  7. Anonymous

    I am a microbiologist, my scalp used to itch a lot. I took a swab from my head and cultured it. A heavy pure staph epi bacteria grew on the culture. Now, I am washing my head using antibacterial soap. No more itching problem.

  8. abigail

    a doctor showed me that dandruff when pressed between the fingers were not dry at all but oily.

  9. D Leonard

    What is the ratio of vinegar/water rinse?

  10. Mari

    I had dandruff trouble since I began my teens, found minimal help from Head and Shoulders. About 15 yrs ago I took the Zone Diet recommendations to use fish oil supplements along with avoiding bad oils and using good fats–virtually no more dandruff along with numerous other benefits!

  11. Donnie

    I have seborrheic dermatitis and would like to find something that will get rid of it. I have allergic reactions to the commercial products that are used to treat it, and develop rashes, asthma and other symptoms from exposure to them. I’m allergic to corn, sulfites and fragrance, and I can’t find any products that don’t contain one or more of my allergens.

  12. Don James

    My dandruff went away when I started eating ground flax for breakfast. I suspect that my diet was deficient in omega-3 oils.

  13. Omar B.

    My wife’s uncle was a barber and he told me to use the brown Listerine. I have been using it for years and it works. Try every other day to start and then when you wash your hair. Trial and error will tell you how often you need to use Listerine.

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