Dandruff During Pregnancy_ Causes And Solutions

A lot of women feel bouts of changes while pregnant and for some, it may have something to do with their hair and scalp. Are you also dealing with dandruff during pregnancy? Here’s you’ll find out why – and what you can do to resolve it!

What causes dandruff in pregnant women?

Dandruff is a minor condition wherein flakes of dry skin appear in the scalp and hair. These white or gray flakes dead skin cells that typically shed off the scalp when new skin cells grow. However, for people with dandruff, this shedding becomes too fast, giving rise to more evident flaking, itchiness, and irritation.

Many women experience changes in their hair and scalp due to the hormonal changes while pregnant. Though the exact cause of dandruff during pregnancy is uncertain, experts suggest that it may be due to the following reasons:

Fungal infection

While pregnant, women have lowered immune response to protect the developing fetus from being attacked by their own antibodies. But because of this, pregnant mothers become more prone to catch illnesses, particularly fungal infections.

Malassezia globosa is a fungus that normally resides and feeds on the oil that is produced in the scalp. However, since pregnant mothers have decreased immune defenses, this fungus can thrive and multiply excessively, giving rise to an infection. As a protective mechanism, the scalp will produce skin cells at a much quicker rate to get rid of the fungus, resulting to the flaking of the skin.

Excessive oil production

The hormonal changes in pregnancy also enhances the oil production in the scalp. The increase in oil production also makes the skin cells grow a lot quicker, leading to the formation of scaly skin, red patches, and flaking in the scalp. This condition is also known as sebborheic dermatitis.

Hypersensitivity of the skin

Your skin may also be more sensitive to certain chemicals while pregnant, and these include those that are found in shampoos, conditioners, and other hair treatment products. If that’s the case, your scalp may negatively react to the hair care products that you previously use and result to flaking.

How to treat dandruff during pregnancy

Though dandruff is a minor problem, the white flakes and itchiness can be pretty annoying! It is quite reasonable why pregnant mothers seek immediate solutions to this problem. But due to concerns about your little one, you might be quite hesitant to use any medicated dandruff shampoo while pregnant.

A major concern for pregnant mothers is if the medications won’t affect their baby. This is why many pregnant women feel it’s a lot more convenient to try natural remedies for dandruff at home to see if the problem resolves.

If you’re seeking some home remedies for dandruff during pregnancy, here are some things that you may want to consider!

Tea tree oil

This essential oil has long been used in treating skin conditions like acne and psoriasis. One study confirmed that tea tree oil successfully reduced the symptoms of dandruff by 41%.

To use tea tree oil, you’ll need to mix it with a carrier oil such as coconut oil before you can directly apply it over the skin. Also take note that tea tree oil may aggravate scalp problems to those who have sensitive skin, so make sure you test it first within a small area before thoroughly covering the rest.

Aloe vera

Probably the most popular natural treatment for dandruff and other skin ailments is aloe vera. Aloe vera can provide antibacterial, antifungal and moisturizing effect on the irritated scalp. In fact, aloe vera is a major component of many hair and skin care products.

Fresh aloe vera juice can be directly applied over the scalp. You may also find plenty of aloe vera gels in your nearest skin care shop.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is known for its moisturizing effect which makes it one of the top choices for dry skin conditions, such as dandruff. Coconut oil can penetrate on the top layer of the skin to act as a barrier that may seal the moisture in the skin and prevent inflammation. Coconut oil also releases a substance called lauric acid that may help combat the fungus Malassezia.

If you want to use coconut oil to relieve dandruff, you may try using it as a substitute for your shampoo or conditioner. Try leaving it on for a couple of minutes to allow your scalp to fully absorb the coconut oil before rinsing. You may also use the coconut oil similarly to hot oil treatment and wear a shower cap to prevent it from dripping on your clothes.

Coconut oil can also be added to neem oil or tea tree oil for more potent effects. However, if you’re already using medicated shampoos or treatment for your scalp, consider asking your doctor prior to using coconut oil as a dandruff-reliever.


Garlic is a well-known antibacterial and antifungal which may help relieve dry and flaky scalp. Garlic may also help remove dirt and other impurities on the hair and scalp that may be contributing to the irritation.

To use it as a remedy for dandruff, you can mix 2 to 3 cloves of minced garlic to honey until it forms a paste. You can use it to gently scrub your scalp about 30 minutes before shampooing.

Otherwise, you can mix minced garlic to argan oil inside a container and allow it to soak. The garlic and argan oil mixture can be used once weekly for dandruff.

Sea salt

Pure sea salt can be used to loosen dandruff and stimulate blood stimulation in the scalp. It may also help absorb the excessive oil in the hair and scalp.

Simply put one to two teaspoon of salt and gently massage your wet hair and scalp for around 10 to 15 minutes. Rinse your hair and scalp thoroughly and use your favorite conditioner.


Citrus fruits, such as lemon, are a common ingredient in many commercial shampoos due to its fragrance and acidity level. It may help regulate the pH or acidity of the scalp that may be significant in controlling inflammation and reducing the risk of dandruff. Moreover, it contains Vitamin C which is a potent antioxidant, and Vitamin B which is believed to improve various skin conditions.

You may apply fresh lemon juice unto your scalp and let it settle for a couple of minutes. Then rinse your hair with warm water before applying your favorite shampoo. You may also mix it with coconut oil and sugar for an exfoliating effect.

Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is known for its antimicrobial, antifungal, and acidic properties. These are the reasons why it is believed to be a natural aid for dandruff.

To use it as a remedy, simply mix 1 cup of this vinegar to 1 ½ cup water. After shampooing and rinsing your hair, you can massage this mixture all over your scalp and hair. It is recommended to leave the vinegar and water mixture without rinsing. You may also condition your hair as necessary.

Is dandruff shampoo safe during pregnancy?

If your regular shampoo and these home remedies won’t seem to control your dandruff, you might already be thinking of using medicated dandruff shampoos to help resolve the problem. Many anti-dandruff shampoos are generally safe while pregnant, but since each pregnant mother may differ in their skin type and sensitivity, then it may be worthwhile to talk to your doctor first before trying anything new on your hair and scalp.

Some of the most popular anti dandruff shampoos contain any of the following active ingredients:


This is an anti-fungal medication that can be used against dandruff. The popular anti-dandruff shampoo brand Nizoral contains ketoconazole. There is no known risk in the topical application of ketoconazole among pregnant and lactating women.

Selenium sulfide

This medication has antifungal and anti-sebborheic properties. This ingredient is found in many medicated dandruff shampoos like Dandrex, Selseb, Selsun, and Head & Shoulders Intensive Treatment. It is rated as a pregnancy category C by the FDA, meaning there is a known risk for fetus in animal studies, but no adequate studies among humans. Though it can be used if the benefits outweighs the risk, the manufacturer of Selseb stated that their product shouldn’t be used by pregnant women.

Pyrithione zinc

This antibacterial and antifungal medication is used to treat sebborheic dermatitis and dandruff. This is the active ingredient of the Head & Shoulders Dry Scalp shampoo. There is not enough data about the use of pyrithione zinc while pregnant and it is advised only to be used if the benefits will outweigh the risks.

Coal tar

Coal tar is found useful in removing the dead skin cells on the top layer of the scalp and slowing down the rate of skin cell growth underneath, making it likely to help relieve dandruff. It is found in several concentrations on anti-dandruff shampoos, among brands like Polytar Plus and Alphosyl. There are lack of studies about the use of coal tar during pregnancy. However, localized applications over an area of the skin, such as the scalp may be considered safe for short-term treatment.

Tips to preventing dandruff while pregnant

Dandruff and pregnancy might go hand-in-hand, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t do anything to prevent it. Here are some tips that may help prevent the itchy scalp and nasty flakes while you go on with your pregnancy.

Have a dose of sunlight

Minimal exposure to sunlight might be helpful in the prevention of dandruff. This doesn’t mean that you’ll need to go sunbathing or go out during the peak hours of the day. Just a little dose of early morning sunshine each day might be enough to help keep those flaky scalp away. However, be extra careful if you’re already using anti-dandruff hair care products, like coal tar, because they may increase your sensitivity to sunlight.

Turn on a humidifier

If you’ve noticed, dandruff seems to be more active during the dry and cold months. It is thought that low humidity in the air may contribute in the dryness of the skin in the scalp, which is a major reason for flaking. Hence, turning that humidifier on may help prevent the dryness of your skin and scalp which may be utmost useful in preventing dandruff.

Manage stress

Stress aggravate hormonal shifts in your body, making it a contributory factor to dandruff. Through it is typical for a pregnant mother to feel stressed, managing it on a healthier way might aid in the prevention of dandruff and other health conditions. Don’t forget to take enough time to rest, have a luxurious bath, or spend quality time with your loved ones. If you need more help to manage stress, you can ask an expert for advice.


Pregnant women are at an increased risk of many conditions including dandruff, but don’t worry. Dandruff is a minor and non-contagious problem that can easily be resolved. You can always ask your doctor for help with regards to the remedies that you can use for dandruff while pregnant to ensure safety and utmost effectiveness of the products.


This article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Always consult with a doctor or licensed medical professional before making any medical decisions.

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