DANDRUFF OR DRY SCALP?- TheBoah Read: Part 2 (Treatment)



Treatment of dandruff is usually pretty straight forward for mild to moderate cases. It might take a bit longer and require more persistence though, with more severe cases. Treating dandruff on African hair, or any curly/coily textured hair maybe slightly different than what you see on most information sources, as hair is naturally drier, and should not be washed too often.

  • Find The Cause & Tackle it: Especially when you realise the cause of your itchy flaky scalp is not fungus. Eliminate products that may cause these symptoms. Use moisturising/sulphate free shampoos, rinse out conditioners properly, cut down on products used on the hair and or wash hair more frequently (check out the ‘Principles of Building Healthy African Hair’).


  • STOP oiling your scalp!: Yes I know… this seems unreasonable, especially for those with dry scalp problems. Surely you need to oil your scalp to keep it from getting dry and flaking? Most of us grew up having our scalps oiled with some DAX Petroleum jelly as it got cornrowed (or plaited)… funny enough, our hair itself never got moisturised during this process… This in itself can cause a flaky scalp for 2 reasons…
  1. On dry scalp: The scalp produces its own sebum naturally from just under the skin, which coats the scalp surface and hair with oil. The scalp produces enough oil for its needs and does not need to be further oiled with pomades or oils (Side note: Because of the curly/coily texture of African hair, this scalp oil finds it difficult to travel to the ends of the hair unlike with straight hair, causing those ends to dry up and break off, hence the importance of consistent moisturising for even relaxed hair). When you use pomades and oils on your scalp, you force the scalp to cut back on its sebum production, throwing it off balance and causing dryness and flaking of the scalp. Using more oils on your scalp may provide temporary relief, but really what it does is continue this vicious cycle of dryness. Instead, try doing scalp massages to help the distribution of the naturally produced sebum on the scalp.
  2. With dandruff caused by fungus: Malassezia, the fungus that causes dandruff feeds on the sebum on the scalp, giving off a lipid by-product called oleic acid. This oleic acid causes an irritation on the scalp that leads to flaking and itching. A lot of oils tend to have oleic acid in their composition, so using them on your scalp might thereby worsen the dandruff condition.


  • Use Tea Tree Oil :Tea tree oil is gotten from the Australian Tea Tree, which is known for its antifungal, antibiotic and antiseptic properties. As a result of this, it is considered effective in treating a lot of skin conditions, including dandruff. You can now find quite a few shampoos and conditioners on the market containing tea tree oil. If you want more control with what you put on your hair, or find it difficult locating such products, you should consider getting the tea tree essential oil. You can infuse this in your regular hair care regimen with the added benefit it provides in treating dandruff and symptoms of it. Below are some suggestions:
  1. As a Prepoo/Hot oil treatment: You can mix the tea tree essential oil with your preferred carrier oil such as extra virgin coconut oil, almond oil, etc. Put about 5 drops of tea tree oil per 10-15ml of carrier oil (make sure they are all 100% natural), saturate your hair and scalp with the mixture and cover your head with a shower cap or plastic bag for at least 45mins (no heat) or 15mins (using heat). You may also heat up the mixture for about 10secs in the microwave before putting it on your scalp as a hot oil treatment (Make sure it’s not scolding hot).
  2. With Shampoo: Turn your regular moisturising/sulphate-free shampoo into an anti-dandruff shampoo by putting in a few drops of tea tree essential oil into it. It is probably best practise to decant a small amount (or the amount you will use) of the shampoo into another container before mixing with the tea tree oil to avoid any possible storage contamination. Lather your hair with this once a week, massaging it into your scalp, and then leaving on for 5mins before rinsing off. Follow with a conditioner.
  3. With Conditioner: You can also turn your deep conditioner to an anti-dandruff conditioner by doing the same. Use a few drops of tea tree oil in your deep conditioner, and thoroughly saturate damp hair with it. Cover head with a shower cap or plastic bag and leave on for at least 45mins (without heat) or 15mins (with heat). You can also do this with your regular conditioners and cowash hair once or twice a week, in between shampoo washes, for better efficacy.


  • Use Anti-Dandruff Shampoos and Conditioners: Any anti-dandruff shampoo will also work on African hair; however, the method of use might have to differ slightly to suit African and textured hair needs. Because African hair is naturally dry, and because of the stripping nature of these shampoos in particular, it is not advised to use them too often. Use them as a clarifying shampoo once a month, or maybe twice a month if your hair can handle it. Always follow up with a very moisturising deep conditioner to put back some moisture into the hair and avoid breakage. You can wash your hair every week using the tea tree oil infused-sulphate free shampoo, or cowash with a regular conditioner mixed with tea tree oil, as mentioned above. Look for shampoos & conditioners containing active ingredients such as: Zinc pyrithione, Selenium sulphide, Coal tar, Ketoconazole, Salicylic acids


  • Hydration and Nourishment: Keep your scalp clean and hydrated by washing it frequently. Hydrate from the inside as well by drinking plenty water (about 2 litres or 8 glasses per day), and keep nourished by eating a well-balanced meal. Increase your intake of vitamin B as they are known to fight dandruff. Foods rich in vitamin B include nuts, beans, peas and whole grains.


For Stubborn or Worsening conditions:


If after a couple of weeks, these symptoms are still persisting, you might want to get more aggressive.

Switch up your anti-dandruff shampoos. You can switch between using anti-dandruff shampoos with different active ingredients. For instance, you use a shampoos containing zinc pyrithione  this week, then in 2 weeks’ time, use one containing selenium sulphide.

Or Use Tea tree oil in your pre-poo hot oil treatment, in your shampoo, and in your conditioner, consecutively, during every wash day.

Try including a mid-week co-wash in between your weekly shampooing, with a conditioner containing tea-tree oil (You can also put a few drops of tea tree oil in your regular conditioner).

If you still aren’t seeing any improvements, or the cause of your itch flaky scalp is more serious (e.g psoriasis, eczema etc), you might have to go see a dermatologist or doctor.



Also Read DANDRUFF OR DRY SCALP?- Part 1: Causes