Everyone has seen those white, flaky scales of dead skin that end up on people’s shoulders at the most inopportune times. They are especially apparent when someone wears dark clothing. In most people, dandruff begins with puberty when the body begins to produce more of the hormone, testosterone. Testosterone increases the scalp’s production of sebum, an oily substance that protects the scalps from microorganisms that might want to make their homes there. Sebum works very well for this purpose, except for one tiny organism that happens to thrive on it. This tiny organism produces something called oleic acid, which is left behind on the scalp. This causes the top layer of skin to become irritated which leads to an increase in the turnover of skin cells. These skin cells clump together and become those familiar flakes of dandruff.
A second type of dandruff is more of a medical condition than a cosmetic one. It is caused by malassezia, a yeast-like fungus that exists on everyone’s scalps. When in normal amounts, it is harmless. However, when it grows out of control, can cause severe dandruff. This type of dandruff is often treated with a harsh, antifungal agent known as ketoconazole. This type of dandruff can be exacerbated by too much stress or a diet that contains too much sugar, or that does not include enough zinc, Vitamin B or omega-3 fatty acids. It can also be made worse when the person who has it frequently wears a tight-fitting hat too often and avoids the sun most of the time. Left untreated, this type of dandruff can result in a severe seborrheic dermatitis, that can also affect the face, chest, back and other areas of skin that are especially oily.
Many of the treatments for dandruff include the use of harsh shampoos that dry out the scalp and along with it, the hair of the person using it. However, more and more people are turning to a more natural product, Aloe Vera, to successfully treat their dandruff problems. Science is closer than ever to unlocking the secrets of why this cooling liquid can heal skin injuries and treat dandruff. It has been found that the gel from inside the Aloe Vera leaf reduces inflammation, which helps healing, but that its concentrated mixture of vitamins and minerals and moisturizing properties are exactly what a scalp needs in order to normalize and rid itself of that annoying dandruff.
Aloe Vera contains pectin. (This is the same stuff that holds jam together and keeps it from getting runny). The pectin in Aloe Vera has special properties that act as a type of “cell cement” that causes cells to be stimulated, divide and grow. The fresh, healthy cells result in a fresh, healthy scalp. This is one of the many reasons that using shampoos that contain Aloe Vera can help put a stop to dandruff. For cases of severe dandruff, the hair should be washed with a very mild shampoo that contains Aloe Vera, and rinsed in cool water. A blow dryer should not be used, as his will exacerbate the problem. Just prior to bedtime, the gel from an Aloe Vera plant should be rubbed gently onto the scalp and left overnight. The next morning, the gel should be washed out, again using the lukewarm water, a mild shampoo that contains Aloe Vera and rinsed with cool water. This treatment should be repeated for up to five days. At the end of this period, a noticeable difference should occur. The scalp will be much more healthy and less dry and flaky. The hair will have taken on a healthier shine and be softer and more manageable.
Aloe Vera contains a natural anti-fungal property so that regular use will not only help get rid of dandruff, but will also help keep it from coming back. Shampoos that contain Aloe Vera have anti-inflammatory compounds, called glycoproteins, that help soothe the annoying itching sensation that goes hand-in-hand with dandruff. The gel from the Aloe Vera soothes and moisturizes the dry skin of the scalp while the polysaccharides stimulate healthy new skin growth and help it to repair itself. Make sure that the choice of a shampoo that contains Aloe Vera does not contain any harsh sulphates such as sodium lauryl sulphate. Also avoid shampoos that contain harsh, artificial perfumes and other fragrances. The right shampoo should contain a mild, natural cleansing agent that contains only scalp friendly natural herbs and oils and, of course, the key healing ingredient, Aloe Vera.
Using a hair conditioner that contains Aloe Vera can also help. Those that also contain zinc and/or sage can help regulate the scalp naturally and gently and help maintain its equilibrium of healthy oils. People who find themselves with dandruff should not color their hair while the problem exists, as this will upset the PH balance of the scalp and reduce the amount of the “good” bacteria that helps keep the scalp healthy. This is a time when the hair and scalp should be treated as gently as possible, so avoidance of heat and any harsh chemicals is crucial at this time.
An avoidance of stressful situations is always good, if possible, but when one has a case of dandruff, this is the time to get more rest and to put forth an effort to eat more healthful foods, and above all, to make a habit of regularly using gentle shampoos that contain Aloe Vera.