Dandruff, also known as seborrheic dermatitis or seborrheic eczema, is primarily a skin condition with several suspected triggers, including a fungus called Malassezia furfur, an allergic reaction to hair care products, a diet lacking in B-complex vitamins, and emotional stress. The best way to prevent dandruff from developing is to proactively address some or all of those issues before the scalp starts shedding white powdery flecks of dry skin. While these flakes of damaged skin are not contagious, they can be very unsightly and can suggest that a person has poor grooming habits or personal hygiene.
One way to prevent dandruff is to improve your diet. The Malassezia furfur fungus tends to feed on fat or oil deposits present on every person's skin. A diet which does not provide enough healthy omega-3 fatty acids or B-complex vitamins can result in heavier excretions of the type of skin oils favored by the fungus. The skin cells damaged by Malassezia furfur will eventually peel away from the scalp and lodge between hair follicles as dandruff. A more balanced diet should help reduce the level of unhealthy oils and fats excreted onto the scalp.
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Another internal way to prevent dandruff is through stress management. People who lead stressful lives often have a tendency to eat a poor or insufficient diet, which in turn can leave the skin vulnerable to dermatitis, eczema, or fungal growth. By reducing stress during the day and sleeping longer at night, a person can help prevent dandruff from forming in the first place.
There are some external ways to prevent dandruff as well. Some home remedies suggest applying a handful of table salt to the scalp and rinsing it out thoroughly before applying shampoo. Another involves crushing fenugreek seeds into a powder, mixing the powder with water to form a paste, then applying the paste to the scalp and allowing it to remain undisturbed for at least 30 minutes before rinsing. These remedies may help to make the scalp's outer skin layer or epidermis inhospitable for fungal growth.
Some other home remedies to remove or prevent dandruff include an application of emu oil, a final rinse with lime juice, or the application of a diluted cider vinegar solution to the hair and scalp between shampoos. Brushing or combing the hair several times a day can also help to redistribute the hair's natural oils and reduce the chances of developing dandruff. People with excessively oily hair should try shampooing their hair more often, especially with shampoos containing drying agents such as tea tree oil.
It is also possible to have an allergic reaction or develop a sensitivity to commercial hair care products, which in turn can trigger the same episodes of flaky skin as a fungal infection. One way to prevent dandruff may be to cut back on the use of certain hair care products which could be irritating the scalp. Getting more sun exposure may help you prevent dandruff, but excessive exposure to the elements can also trigger it or make it worse. When faced with a dandruff problem, it may help to switch to medicated anti-dandruff shampoos and systematically eliminate other hair care products until the problem resolves itself.