Understanding how to get rid of dandruff is not as straightforward as one might think. The first step is learning what causes dandruff. This is because different causes have different remedies.
If dandruff is caused by dry skin on the scalp, massaging in mineral oil and allowing it to sit for about a half hour before shampooing should clear it up. A good quality moisturizing lotion should work as well. The goal is to rehydrate the scalp.
Some skin conditions are underlying causes of dandruff. Dermatitis and psoriasis are two common examples. In these cases, getting rid of the underlying cause should clear the dandruff up.
If none of the above is the reason for dandruff, the odds are that the scalp has too much moisture and is a breeding ground for fungi and yeast that irritate the skin. When this is the case, a common commercial dandruff shampoo should suffice. However, different shampoos have different active ingredients at different strengths.
Zinc pyrithione, ketoconazole, and selenium sulfide are all antifungal ingredients that have been shown to be effective treatments for dandruff. Their one drawback is that once one starts using them, he/she must continue to use them or risk the dandruff returning.
Coal tar is used in shampoos as a treatment for psoriasis. It is also used to treat and repel head lice. If either of these is causing the flaking we know as dandruff, the condition should show improvement after a single application. However, before using, consumers should be made aware that coal tar has been named as a possible cause of cancer.
Salicylic acid is used in shampoos to promote easier shedding of excess skin. This may sound like it would produce more dandruff, but the fact is that most of this excess will turn loose and be washed out with the shampoo. This serves to keep the pores clear and avoid skin irritation that would cause dandruff flaking.