Dandruff is a condition where there is excessive flaking and shedding of skin, usually caused by an imbalance in Malassezia fungus levels. Lemon juice contains citric acid, vitamin C, flavonoids and trace amounts of zinc, with antioxidant, antibacterial and antifungal properties. It has been found to be 70-75% effective as a short term remedy for dandruff.
What Is Dandruff?
Dandruff is a condition which is characterized by excessive flaking of the skin on the scalp. It is easy to detect dandruff as it appears as small, round, white-to-gray patches on the scalp. Dandruff is usually accompanied with dryness and mild itching and its severity increases during winter. While dandruff can be controlled with regular shampooing and hair care, in severe cases it requires medicated shampoos.
What Causes Dandruff Formation?
Poor diet, poor hygiene, genetic disposition, hormonal imbalances and infections contribute to dandruff. Excessive use of hairsprays and hair gels, improper use of hair-coloring products, excessive use of electric hair curlers, dry indoor heating, tight fitting head gears or scarves, infrequent shampooing of the hair, inadequate rinsing of hair, stress, anxiety and tension worsen dandruff .
Dandruff is caused predominantly by a common fungus called Malassezia globosa. While this fungus lives on the scalp of all healthy human beings, an increase in fungal levels causes an inflammatory response leading to skin flaking and dandruff.
Seborrheic dermatitis is a variation of dandruff that specifically affects parts of the body which are excessively oily or sebaceous, affecting adults. It tends to relapse and its underlying causes could be genetic and hormonal influences. Other factors could be stress and immune-deficiency diseases.
People with dry skin exhibit dandruff like symptoms on their scalp in the form of smaller flakes. The symptom is also visible on legs, arms and other parts of the body.
When a person experiences an allergic reaction by using too many hair-care/styling products or if he/she shampoos too often, it can result in dandruff. Paraphenylenediamine, an important constituent in hair dye, is also a major cause for contact dermatitis.
Medicated Shampoos Vs. Home Remedies
Over-the-counter shampoos contain tar, salicylic acid, selenium sulfide, zinc pyrithione or ketoconazole. These shampoos work by slowing down cell turnover and may reduce the number of malassezia. However, these shampoos have to be used for a long period (usually for few months), leave scalp skin dry (which leads to frequent scalp irritation) and are also known to discolor light colored hair .
You might not have a choice but to turn to these to treat an especially bad dandruff breakout or if the problem is persistent or frequently recurring. However, for the vast majority of the population milder, natural remedies might suffice. Neem oil, vinegar, coconut oil and lemon juice are commonly recommended.
How Can Lemon Help?
Lemon juice contains citric acid, an effective cleansing agent that removes excess sebum and dandruff particles from the scalp and hair and helps maintain pH levels that are ideal for skin health.
Lemon juice also contains vitamin-C and flavonoids, whose antioxidating, antibiotic and antifungal properties have been found to be useful in reducing and treating dandruff .
Dandruff has also been linked with zinc deficiency . Trace amounts of zinc in lemon juice could also, therefore, contribute to its effectiveness against dandruff.
Ayurvedic texts recommend rice water, neem juice and lemon juice for dandruff treatment. A study which compared the effectiveness of these natural remedies found that lemon juice was 70-75% effective in the treatment of dandruff. It was found to be highly effective in the short term but with diminishing effectiveness when used on a longer term basis .
Note: Caution must be exercised with over-usage of lemon juice as the citric acid content in lemon tends to strip hair of its natural color over time.
- Ravichandran, G., V. Shivaram Bharadwaj, and S. A. Kolhapure. “Evaluation of the clinical efficacy and safety of “Anti-Dandruff Shampoo” in the treatment of dandruff.” The Antiseptic 201.1 (2004): 5-8.
- Kumar, Saneesh. “Analysis on the Natural Remedies to Cure Dandruff/Skin Disease-causing Fungus-Malassezia furfur.” Adv BioTech 12 (2013): 1-5.
- Mohanapriya, M., Dr Lalitha Ramaswamy, and Dr R. Rajendran. “Health and Medicinal properties of Lemon (CITRUS LIMONUM).” international Journal of Ayurvedic and Herbal Medicine 3.1 (2013): 1095-1100.