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Coconut Oil for Dandruff: Harmful or Helpful?

Coconut Oil for Dandruff: Harmful or Helpful?

Using natural remedies for dandruff is on the rise. The internet recommends various natural solutions, including apple cider vinegar, tea tree oil, coconut oil, olive oil, and mineral oil. 

But does coconut oil help in getting rid of dandruff? Coconut oil may not be a perfect choice for managing dandruff. In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at what is dandruff and can coconut oil help in managing it.

What is dandruff?

Dandruff is a common scalp condition that is characterized by the falling of dead skin cells from the scalp. It sounds grotesque, but this happens all day from all over our body and is normal. However, with dandruff, the skin turnover rate is accelerated, and it appears as white or gray skin flakes on the scalp, hair, and shoulders. 

Dandruff causes itching and scratching, which can, in turn, worsen the skin condition. Due to the flaking, dandruff is sometimes mistaken for seborrheic dermatitis, also known as cradle cap in babies. Seborrheic dermatitis can also considered a severe case of dandruff. But both of these conditions are different.

Signs and symptoms of dandruff

A few common symptoms that help in identifying dandruff are:

  • White or gray flakes on the scalp.
  • Itchiness.
  • Dryness.
  • Oily or greasy scalp

What causes dandruff?

Malssezia yeast, which causes seborrheic dermatitis, is frequently linked to dandruff. This yeast appears on the scalp, but its overgrowth can increase scalp inflammation and accelerate skin cell sloughing. The cells falling from the scalp are the flakes you see and call dandruff. 

The overproduction of sebum is one of the common reasons for dandruff. This sebum binds the useless skin cells together, creating visible dandruff flakes. Seborrheic dermatitis can cause skin flaking, which is usually mistaken as dandruff. 

Coconut oil composition

Lets get molecular…Coconut oil includes various fatty acids: caprylic acid, capric acid, lauric acid, and palmitic acid. Lauric acid is the the highest concentration fatty acid, and makes up around 50% of coconut oil. These fatty acids are classified as medium-chain fatty acids, containing 12 carbon atoms in their carbon chain.

Does Coconut Oil Help with Dandruff ?

Is coconut oil powerful at treating dandruff? The answer might be No!  Coconut oil has an extended record of being used as a dandruff herbal treatment. It’s believed to possess antimicrobial and antifungal properties helpful in keeping a healthy scalp microbiome. 

While it is true that coconut oil can have antimicrobial activity against some microbes, it doesn’t work well against all microbes, especially when tackling Malassezia fungus. 

The Malassezia fungus thrives on fatty acids with chain lengths ranging from 11 to 24 carbon atoms. As mentioned above, coconut oil contains many fatty acids (lauric acid) with a 12-carbon chain. This creates an environment that may stimulate Malassezia growth, thus worsening dandruff. 

The same holds if seborrheic dermatitis is the underlying issue of flaking. Using coconut oil on your skin and scalp can also cause a worsening of the condition, as coconut oil may enhance scalp inflammation by increasing oiliness and fungus colonization. 

Are you curious about whether or not it is beneficial to use coconut oil for cradle cap? Coconut oil can act as a natural moisturizer, but there are better ways to eliminate cradle cap.

The best solution to get rid of dandruff 

Instead of trying natural remedies, a great way to eliminate the symptoms associated with dandruff is to use an OTC anti-dandruff shampoo. One of the best active ingredients helpful in managing dandruff is pyrithione zinc, which is present in dandruff shampoos. Pyrithione zinc helps minimize the presence of yeast and fungi, efficiently tackling one of the primary causes of dandruff.  We prefer shampoos for dandruff control instead of a leave-on formulation

Happy Cappy Medicated Shampoo contains the active ingredient Pyrithione zinc. It’s fragrance-free, paraben-free, and dye-free. It is a sulfate-free dandruff shampoo that is safe for children of all ages and works wonders for adults.

Happy Cappy Shampoo for Dandruff not only combats flaking and scaling associated with dandruff but also makes your hair feel softer, smoother, and healthier.


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Dr. Eddie Valenzuela is an award winning pediatrician and the founder and CEO of Pediatric Solutions, LLC.

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Can coconut oil replace medicated dandruff shampoos?

Coconut oil cannot replace Medicated shampoos, especially if the dandruff is severe. Medicated shampoos are specially formulated to fight flaking and scaling associated with dandruff. Medicated shampoos contain active ingredients that can help eliminate dandruff. In contrast, coconut oil can make your condition worse.

Can coconut oil treat the Malassezia fungus?

No, it is not very helpful in managing Malassezia fungus, which might be causing dandruff. The presence of fatty acids in coconut oil provides an environment for the growth of Malassezia fungus, which can worsen dandruff.

Does coconut oil worsen seborrheic dermatitis or dandruff?

Coconut oil includes fatty acids that promote the increase of the Malassezia fungus, which could exacerbate seborrheic dermatitis or dandruff, specifically if applied on an oily scalp.

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