How to Get Rid of Scurf on Scalp? An Exhaustive Guide

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Scurf, more commonly known as dandruff, is a widespread scalp condition characterized by itchy, white flakes of dead skin shedding from your scalp. Dandruff affects nearly half of the adult population and can lead to redness, irritation, and itchiness if left untreated.

While dandruff is rarely serious, dealing with constant flaking and itchiness can be frustrating. Luckily, there are several effective methods to manage dandruff and rid your scalp of those pesky white flakes for good.

What Causes Dandruff on The Scalp?

Before diving into treatments, it’s helpful to understand what causes dandruff in the first place. Dandruff can have various underlying triggers, including:

  • Yeastlike fungus – A yeastlike fungus called malassezia lives on everyone’s scalp and feeds on the oils secreted by hair follicles. For some, this fungus grows out of control, causing inflammation and excess skin cell turnover.
  • Oily skin – Excess oil (sebum) production can cause the skin cells to clump together into visible flakes.
  • Dry skin – Insufficient moisture in the outer layer of skin can cause dryness, irritation, and flaking.
  • Sensitivity to hair products – Certain ingredients in hair care products, like sulfates, can irritate the scalp and worsen dandruff symptoms for some people.
  • Stress – Stress is thought to negatively impact the skin’s protective barrier and immune responses, increasing susceptibility to dandruff.
  • Cold, dry weather – Lower humidity in the winter months can draw moisture from the skin and exacerbate flaking.

Now that we understand why dandruff forms, let’s explore the top methods for getting rid of it for good.

How to Get Rid of Scurf on Scalp? An Exhaustive Guide

Use Dandruff Shampoo and Scalp Treatments

The most proven way to treat dandruff is by regularly using an anti-dandruff shampoo. These shampoos contain active ingredients that help:

  • Reduce fungal growth
  • Loosen dead skin cells
  • Soothe inflammation and irritation

Some of the most effective active ingredients to look for include:

  • Salicylic acid – A beta hydroxy acid that penetrates oily buildup and scales.
  • Selenium sulfide – Slows cell turnover by reducing malassezia fungus.
  • Ketoconazole – An antifungal medication that also has anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Coal tar – Slows excessive skin cell reproduction and reduces scaling.

According to a systematic review in the Journal of Dermatological Treatment, ketoconazole and piroctone olamine shampoos are among the most effective for reducing dandruff.

For best results, lather the dandruff shampoo thoroughly over damp hair and leave on for 5-10 minutes before rinsing. Using it 2-3 times per week helps maintain control.

Scalp drops and leave-in treatments containing salicylic acid or ketoconazole can provide added relief between washes.

Modify Your Diet and Lifestyle

While research is limited, some evidence suggests that dietary and lifestyle changes may help improve dandruff by reducing inflammation and fungal overgrowth.

Potential diet and lifestyle modifications include:

  • Limiting inflammatory foods like refined carbs, sugars, and unhealthy fats
  • Increasing intake of antimicrobial foods like garlic, onions, green tea
  • Managing stress through yoga, meditation, or therapy
  • Getting adequate sun exposure for vitamin D production
  • Quitting smoking to improve scalp circulation

Work with your doctor or dietitian to pinpoint any foods that may be worsening eczema or seborrheic dermatitis on your scalp. Common dandruff triggers include dairy, gluten, and high-glycemic foods.

Increase Scalp Exfoliation

Exfoliating helps lift and wash away dead skin cells before they have a chance to become unsightly flakes. There are a few easy ways to exfoliate the scalp:

  • Massage when shampooing – Take time to thoroughly massage shampoo into the scalp to help loosen skin buildup. Use the pads of your fingers, not nails.
  • Use a scalp brush – Special bristle brushes designed for the scalp can help dislodge flakes. Focus on gentle, circular motions.
  • Try a scalp exfoliator – Look for leave-in exfoliators with ingredients like salicylic acid or jojoba beads to gently slough off dead cells.
  • Do an occasional scalp scrub – For a deeper exfoliation, mix equal parts olive oil and sugar and massage into the scalp pre-shampoo. Rinse thoroughly after 5 minutes.

Tip: Limit exfoliation to 2-3 times per week to avoid irritation.

Apply Soothing Natural Oils

Using natural oils can help rebalance an oily scalp and provide relief from flaking and itching. Plus, their antimicrobial properties may help reduce fungal overgrowth.

Some of the top scalp oils for dandruff include:

  • Tea tree oil – Has antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties. Mix a few drops with a carrier oil before applying.
  • Coconut oil – Helps moisturize dry areas and protect hair. Apply a quarter-size amount to the scalp overnight then shampoo.
  • Jojoba oil – Mimics the scalp’s natural oils. May help remove excess sebum buildup when massaged in.
  • Argan oil – Rich in antioxidants and vitamin E to nourish the scalp.
  • Rosemary oil – Stimulates circulation. Use a few drops mixed with coconut oil.

Use oils sparingly 1-2 times per week and wash out thoroughly to prevent residue buildup. Oils may cause breakouts for some.

Consider Home Remedies

Some natural kitchen ingredients are said to help treat dandruff when applied to the scalp. Popular home remedies include:

  • Apple cider vinegar – Contains antimicrobial acids that may kill fungus. Mix 1 part ACV with 1 part water and rinse hair after shampooing.
  • Baking soda – Gently exfoliates and balances the scalp’s pH levels. Make a paste with a bit of water and massage into damp hair. Rinse after 1-2 minutes.
  • Lemon juice – The citric acid may reduce fungal growth and lighten flakes. Add a few tablespoons to shampoo or apply straight before rinsing.
  • Aloe vera gel – Has cooling properties to soothe the scalp. Apply alone or mix with coconut oil.

Use home remedies no more than 1-2 times per week, as overuse can dry out the scalp. Patch test before use to check for skin sensitivity.

How to Get Rid of Scurf on Scalp? An Exhaustive Guide

When to See a Doctor

While most cases of dandruff can be managed at home, it’s best to consult a dermatologist if:

  • Symptoms persist after 2 months of home treatment
  • Flaking is severe and accompanied by red, swollen skin
  • Hair loss or bald patches develop
  • Signs of infection like pus, oozing occur

A doctor can rule out other conditions like seborrheic dermatitis and prescribe stronger medicated shampoos or oral medications as needed.

The Bottom Line

Annoying as it may be, dandruff is a common condition that can be controlled with consistent treatment. Using anti-dandruff shampoos several times per week along with occasional scalp exfoliation are the cornerstones of treatment.

Lifestyle measures like managing oil production, consuming a healthy diet, and using natural oils may also improve flaking when combined with medicated shampoos. Most mild dandruff can be successfully managed at home, but see a doctor if symptoms worsen or persist.

With a multistep approach leveraging both medical and natural solutions, you can say goodbye to those pesky white flakes and itchy scalp for good. Just remember to be patient and consistent, as controlling dandruff requires diligence

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