Top Dandruff-Preventing Foods

Dandruff is a dermatological condition that is as common as it is unwanted. From the scalp scratching to the telltale white flakes in the hair and even on the collar, seborrheic dermatitis (dandruff's scientific name) is unsightly and embarrassing.

The condition is caused by a combination of three factors—inflammation, yeast overgrowth, and the production of sebum, an oily substance secreted by glands that works to keep skin and hair moisturized. The good news is that there are a few things you can do to manage this condition, and one of them is making tweaks to your diet.

The Diet Connection

How does what you eat play out on your scalp? Diets can be a source of inflammation that contributes to those nasty white flakes, says Jessica Krant, MD, MPH, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in New York and founder of Art of Dermatology. The idea is to get inflammation down to a more manageable level.

"Diets low in inflammatory factors and high in anti-inflammatory factors are key," she says. You want to avoid high-sugar foods and eat those with anti-inflammatory properties. They include brightly-colored fruits and vegetables, such as blueberries, pineapple, sweet potatoes, and broccoli; garlic; onions; omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish such as salmon, mackerel, and anchovies; and mushrooms.

Dr. Krant also recommends foods high in zinc and vitamin B6, as they can be helpful in reducing the production of sebum. Good picks include oatmeal; chickpeas; sunflower seeds; oysters; poultry; and healthy fats found in olive oil or avocados, for example, will help prevent skin dryness.

Other Easy Ways to Control Dandruff

In addition to managing your diet, try one of the multitude of dandruff shampoos on the market. They tend to be quite effective in controlling the flakes. Try to keep the air in your home moist in order to prevent drying of the scalp. Fortunately, dandruff often lessens in the spring and summer, when indoor heating is turned off.

Interestingly, dandruff isn't always found on your scalp. "Seborrheic dermatitis can also form in other areas of the body, including the sides of the nose, inner tips of the eyebrows, the chin, inside and behind the ears, and even the center of the chest in men," says Dr. Krant.

"It likes to form anywhere there is an increase in the skin's oil glands and especially where there is also some hair growth. If you have a red flaky rash on your face that isn't responding to acne or rosacea treatments, see your dermatologist for guidance since it may be facial dandruff."




Dr. Jessica Krant