Dandruff is initially on the upper layer of scalp but gradually it penetrates into the inner layers. Sometimes the problem becomes so severe that red patches appear on the skin. It is believed that when the glands, which secrete sebum, become more active then we get the problem of dandruff. Sweat and dandruff, lack of nutrients in diet, increased secretion of hormones are believed to be attributing factors for dandruff.
Let’s discuss the problem of dandruff with our Ayurveda expert Dr. Parmeshwar Arora.
Q. What actually is dandruff?
See, if you notice white dust falling down on your clothes or floor when you run fingers through your hairs or comb your hair, then it is dandruff. If you ask me about what exactly, it is……See,in our skin, there is a continuous process of inner cells moving towards outer layer as there is ongoing degeneration process. This movement results in continuous replacement of layer of dead skins by the new one. So, this is a natural process though we can’t see the dead cells with our naked eyes, But, for certain reasons, if the dead cells on our scalp (which have maximum amount of sebaceous gland) don’t detach themselves or don’t get removed but get deposited on the skull as a layer, then they take the form dandruff. Thus we can say that dandruff is nothing but dead cells which should have got detached naturally, but instead, they get deposited on our skull.
Q. Why does this problem occur? Why do we have these white flaky layer of dead cell, which we call dandruff?
Here, activities of sebaceous glands have a major role to play. It is understood that the maximum presence of Sebaceous glands is in the skin of face, scalp, upper back and neck. The secretion from these sebaceous glands which is called sebum, provides a sort of nourishment and lubrication to our skin. If someone has sluggish activity of these sebaceous glands (hypo-functioning), the skin becomes dry and its dead cells remain attached instead of coming off naturally. The reason behind the dryness in skin is decreased secretion of sebum from sebaceous glands which is also termed as hypo-functioning of sebaceous glands.
Q. We often observe different types of hair in different people. While, some have dry hair others have oily one and some others have normal hair. Is any particular type of hair more prone to dandruff than the rest?
As I mentioned earlier dryness is responsible for dandruff in hair. If someone has dry skin, we would observe that he will have the problem of dandruff. In contrary to this, there is hyper-functioning of sebaceous glands in case of oily hair or oily skin. Sebum is a kind of oily secretion. I would like tell you here that even hyperactivity of sebaceous glands is not good. In this condition, your hair become very oily and you are forced to shampoo your hairs every day. Also when this oil is exposed to the pollution of outer atmosphere, it attracts bacteria, dust and many such undesirable things, thus damaging our scalp cells and may probably result in hair fall. Here again, we observer that the proper balance is very important. While we don’t want hypo-functioning of sebaceous glands, its hyperactivity is equally undesirable. Both of them can ultimately be responsible for hair fall.
Q. Most of have dandruff but we generally ignore. We rarely make an effort to resolve it unless it becomes very big issue. Does this dandruff have other complications too, if it becomes serious?
Dandruff can give rise to abscesses on the scalp, itching on scalp, acne/pimples on the face, acne/pimples on the back, hair fall etc. and thus creating a condition of social embarrassment. Sometimes the dandruff becomes so prominent that your eyelashes appear to be covered with them. This condition may affect our eyes by causing allergic reactions in eyes and itching, redness and water in eyes. So basically, dandruff will harm the area wherever it falls because they are dead cells and hence may have bacterial infections. When combined with bacteria, dandruff comes in contact with any part of the body, there is a probability of infection in that area.
Q. Generally people are quite influenced by advertisements. As a result, we sometimes use some chemical shampoos or other such products which don’t suit our hairs or skin. Can these also be blamed for hair problems or dandruff?
If you use a very strong chemical or irritant containing shampoos, then they somehow disturb our normal skin texture and ultimately alter the activities of our sebaceous glands. So in my view, we should try to avoid these as much as possible – the use of chemicals, dyes or colours, or any artificial or cosmetic substance on your scalp or skin. Since over-exposure to chemicals has always been said to be dangerous, we should be very careful while choosing products for our hair and skin.
We have a very good combination of gooseberry (amla), Soap-nut(reetha) and shikakai(commonly known as hair fruit) which I recommend to be used as an alternative for shampoo. It is natural and best nourishing shampoo. You can powder and mix these three components in equal proportion (deseed soap nut before powdering) and store. Before use, you just have to soak it overnight and use next day. For women who have long hair, you need to soak 2 spoons of this combination in a mug of water and for men, soak 1 spoon in a cup of water. You will get very good, natural shampoo which has no harmful effects. All these three components are quite nourishing for our scalp, and improve our hair too. Who does not desire black, dense and log hairs. Obviously, all of us want to get them but we need to make an effort towards it. I would say, shikakai when combined with reetha – works as very good conditioner…..you will see very good results.
Q. Coming to the main aspect, tell us about the dos and don’ts for getting rid of dandruff or avoiding it completely. First tell us about the ways by which we can prevent the condition of dandruff altogether.
You need to maintain the cleanliness of your hairs. We need some lubricant when we are dealing with dryness – so for this you can rub a combination of 2 spoons of glycerin and one spoon of lemon juice, on your scalp. If you are comfortable with eggs, then combine two egg yolks with one spoon each of lemon juice and olive oil, and rub this combination on your scalp and hairs. This will give nourishment to your hairs as well as decrease the tendency of dandruff. Even if you massage sesame oil on your scalp twice a week, that would be quite beneficial.
So depending upon your body’s constitution, whichever remedy suits you (massage with sesame or coconut oil, combination of egg, lemon and olive oil or combination of glycerin and olive oil), you need to practice it. These are more than sufficient in dealing with dandruff. But in a case, when dandruff grows so much that it takes a form of disease then obviously, we need to give some Ayurvedic medicines, as well.
Q. All these remedies that you have mentioned are so easy and involve easily available things. Besides, if we talk about medicines, are there some medications available in Ayurveda for dandruff?
Of course! As I have mentioned earlier, we need to control the altered activity of our sebaceous glands. We need to improve the blood circulation in scalp. See, irrespective of what part of our body we are targeting, we need to understand that every part gets its nutrition through blood. Hence we always attach the treatment with regulating proper circulation of blood to that region. Also, purification of blood is as important. We give mannikya yog and arjunadi gandh to our patient and sometimes we also give purifiers in the form of shodhni gandhak. Use of these medicines give very good results on the victims of dandruff and their dandruff disappears forever.