How To Get Dandruff Flakes Out Of Dreadlocks: DIY Step-by-Step

A young man with an itchy scalp due to seborrheic dermatitis aka dandruff after using an apple cider vinegar rinse.

Getting rid of dandruff flakes can be extremely challenging when you have dreadlocks. This is because the flakes get stuck in the knots and buds that make up the structure of your locs.

But that doesn’t mean you have to make peace with the flakes. You’ve got options!

If you’re looking for ways to put flakes in the past, we can help. In this article, we will dive into several flake-removal methods so you can learn how to get dandruff flakes out of dreadlocks. You can try all of these methods at home starting today! 

How to Get Dandruff Flakes Out of Dreadlocks

Here are the six primary ways to get dandruff flakes out of your dreadlocks:

1. Use an Anti-Dandruff Shampoo

As the name suggests, a good anti-dandruff shampoo is formulated to soothe your flaky scalp and reduce dandruff. There are several over-the-counter and prescription-strength formulas that can help treat even the most severe cases of dandruff.

Anti-dandruff shampoos are packed with various potent ingredients, including: 

Young black guy after using a natural pre-shampoo treatment with anti-fungal properties to remove dandruff buildup.

2. Wash Your Hair More Often

In addition to being an eyesore, an increase in dandruff is your scalp’s way of screaming out for help. Washing your hair removes both the yeast that causes dandruff and its potential food source.

Think of washing your hair as your first line of defense in keeping your scalp flake-free. While there’s no rule on how often you need to clean your locs, many people with dandruff in their locs find that a wash frequency of one to two times a week works well. 

3. Wash Your Locs the Right Way

Your shampooing technique is extremely important when you’ve got flakes stuck in your locs. A surface wash will not dislodge those flakes – you need to scrub your roots vigorously without going overboard.

The key to scrubbing away flakes near your roots is to use small circular motions with firm pressure.

Spend thirty seconds or more on each problem spot and then rinse thoroughly. If the flakes are really bad, you can blast them away by spraying them with high-pressure water. 

African American man with a 4B hair type suffering from dreadlock dandruff and needing an antifungal shampoo.

4. Detoxify Your Locs With an ACV Rinse

Detoxifying treatments cut through the stubborn buildup, leaving your hair and scalp fresh and clean. They’re perfect for when regular shampoo just isn’t cutting it.

Additionally, soaking your dreads helps break down tough-to-remove flakes so they won’t get trapped in the hair. 

Here’s how to make a dreadlock soak: 

  1. Fill a sink or basin with hot water and add ¾ cup of apple cider vinegar, ¼ cup of baking soda, and a teaspoon of lemon juice.
  2. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil
  3. Find a comfortable position and place your dreads into the mixture. 
  4. Let them soak for 20 to 30 minutes. 
  5. Lift your hair from the water and squeeze the excess liquid from your dreads. 
  6. Rinse your dreads with clean water until the water runs clear, and apply your favorite deep conditioning treatment. 

A dread detox is extremely stripping, so don’t use this dandruff control treatment more than once every three or four months. 

A person suffering from seborrheic dermatitis, or dandruff, after using an apple cider vinegar rinse.

5. Improve Your Diet

Regardless of what you put on your scalp, you won’t get very far if you don’t care for it from the inside out. Although a yeast-like fungus causes dandruff, a healthy scalp can keep the fungus’s population at bay.

You can treat your dandruff by drinking plenty of water and avoiding high inflammation foods. Instead, try to add more anti-inflammatory food items to your diet.

Looking for recommendations? Here are some foods that can help decrease inflammation and soothe your scalp. 

  • Kale and spinach
  • Walnuts and almonds
  • Blueberries and oranges
  • Tea and coffee 
  • Salmon and tuna

6. Try a DIY Antifungal Treatment

Would you prefer to treat your dandruff naturally? There are various DIY treatments out there that can soothe an inflamed scalp and reduce dandruff symptoms.

You can use any combination of antifungal ingredients, but coconut, neem, peppermint, and tea tree oil are well known for their anti-microbial properties.

Some types of yeast feed on oil, so it’s best to use this treatment if your scalp is typically dry. 

Follow the below instructions to try a DIY coconut oil dandruff treatment: 

  1. Scoop out one or two tablespoons of unrefined coconut oil. 
  2. Mix in a few drops of your preferred essential oils. 
  3. Apply the mixture to your scalp and let it sit for up to an hour. 
  4. Shampoo your strands thoroughly to remove excess residue. 
  5. When you follow up with conditioner, massage your hair thoroughly to remove as many loosened flakes as possible and rinse well. 
A black man with a 4B hair type and dreadlock dandruff that he treated with tea tree oil.

Ways to Soothe Dandruff Symptoms

Now that you know how to get rid of dandruff, let’s get into some measures you can take to prevent the condition from coming back. 

Don’t Go to Sleep with Wet Hair

A warm, moist scalp is a breeding ground for the fungus that causes dandruff. Going to sleep with damp dreads will exacerbate your symptoms and make your dandruff harder to fight.

Whenever possible, avoid going to bed while your hair is still wet. If you can’t, keep your dreads uncovered. That way, the water will evaporate while you catch your Zs.  

Lower Your Stress

Stress is known for its toxic effects on nearly every part of your body. High or sustained stress levels can suppress your immune system and lower its efficiency.

Therefore, if your scalp can’t defend itself against the fungus that causes dandruff, the fungus will win.

Learn how to properly manage your stress and incorporate more relaxing activities like yoga, meditation, and aromatherapy into your daily life. It’s also crucial to get enough sleep so you’ll have the mental ability to take on each day. 

A black male with a 4B hair type that has an itchy scalp that requires an anti-dandruff shampoo.

Try an Antifungal Cream

Antifungal creams contain high concentrations of yeast-killing ingredients that will help keep your dreads flake-free after you remove the existing flakes.

Over-the-counter formulas are available for mild to moderate cases, although sufferers of severe dandruff may want to speak with their doctor about getting a prescription antifungal. 

There are many different antifungal medications out there, so if one antifungal cream doesn’t work for you, there’s a good chance that a different one will.

Here are some of the most common antifungals: 

  • Ketoconazole 
  • Clotrimazole
  • Miconazole
  • Econazole

For the best results, apply your antifungal cream to your scalp once or twice each day.

Switch Out Your Hair Care Products

Some hair care products can exacerbate flaking by either drying your scalp out or prompting your scalp to produce too much oil. If you notice that your dandruff flares up when you use a particular product, try to avoid it.

Opt for nourishing formulas that restore your dry itchy scalp rather than aggravate it.

As a general rule, try to limit your use of hair products that contain harsh or drying ingredients like: 

  • Alcohol (fatty alcohols are fine – the drying alcohols are the ones to avoid)
  • Parabens
  • Sulfates and harsh sulfate alternatives
  • Synthetic fragrances 

Ingredients that dry out your skin will cause your scalp’s oil production to go into overdrive in an attempt to correct the imbalance. Another thing to watch out for is heavy products that coat your hair with oil.

Since the yeast that causes dandruff prefers oil, you’re essentially feeding it every time you add oil to your scalp. Try to work with your hair, and avoid products that make naturally oily hair greasier or a dry scalp even drier.

Related Articles

Hair care isn’t one-size-fits-all, so you might have to try a few dandruff treatments to find the one that gives you the results you are looking for.

That said, there are plenty of products, natural remedies, and lifestyle changes that can help you prevent and treat dandruff. We hope this article has provided you with the tools you need to keep your locs flake-free.

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