Complete Guide to Using Tea Tree Oil and Dandruff

young woman with long brown hair scratching dandruff on head


Can you use tea tree oil for dandruff?

If you’re looking for an alternative to anti-dandruff shampoos, you may surprised to learn that tea tree oil can help reduce dry itchy scalps.

Latest research shows that the ingredient tea tree oil can fight the fungus responsible for dandruff.


The Battle against a Flaky Scalp

If you have dandruff, you know how bothersome it can get. The itchy, flaking scalp are the hallmark symptoms of this common scalp condition.

Many people think dandruff is caused by having a dry scalp, but the most common cause is actually a fungus called Pityrosporum ovale.

The most popular way to stop dandruff is by using chemically-treated shampoos to kill the fungal infections. You can use specially formulated shampoos like Head & Shoulders Dandruff Shampoo and Selsun Blue Medicated Maximum Strength Dandruff Shampoo. Many of these products contain 1% Pyrithione Zinc, a common anti-fungal drug used to treat dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis.

I’ve used Head & Shoulders shampoo in the past but found it wasn’t consistent in controlling my dandruff. I found it worked quite well when I first started using it, but after a few weeks of use I found it started to lose its effectiveness. However, this is a very popular product and it may work for your particular scalp condition.



Tea Tree Oil is an Alternative to Traditional Dandruff Treatments:

Research studies showing that you may be able to use tea tree oil to control some dandruff symptoms.

Plant researchers have known for decades that tea tree oil has anti-fungal properties. And you may be able to use these oils help control and manage certain scalp and hair conditions, including dandruff.

Some scalp conditions may also be exacerbated by exposure to petrochemicals and chemical solvents found in many commercially available shampoos and body care products.

So using a natural substance that has anti-microbial properties may be an effective alternative to achieving a clean and healthy head of hair.


Study shows 5% Tea Tree Oil is an Effective Dandruff Treatment

Camperdown, Australia – Researchers compared 5% tea tree oil shampoo with a placebo to determine its effectiveness on dandruff and scalp health.

One hundred and twenty-six (126) male and female patients were given a 5% tea tree oil shampoo or placebo shampoo to use every day for 4 weeks. The dandruff was measured for amount of itchiness, scaliness and greasiness.

  • People using tea tree oils experienced a 41% improvement, compared to only 11% in the placebo group.
  • The group using tea tree oil showed a reduction in severity of symptoms, with reduction in greasy hair and scalp.
  • Participants using the oils also experienced no adverse side effects.



How to Use Tea Tree Oil to Treat Dandruff:

  1. Pour a small amount of shampoo in your palm.
  2. Add a few drops of organic tea tree oil to the shampoo before massaging the mixture into your head and scalp. If you use too much oil, it’ll reduce the amount of suds from your shampoo. Try using only a couple of drops and adjust accordingly.
  3. Leave the shampoo mixture in your hair for about 5 minutes before rinsing.

Here’s what you may experience:

  • A cool and tingling sensation on your scalp while tea tree oil/shampoo mixture soaks in.
  • The oil may leave your hair shinier.
  • You may experience a really deep clean feeling in your hair after rinsing out.
  • Decreased amount of dandruff and less itchy scalp.

You can use the above treatment whenever you need to give your hair and scalp a thorough deep cleansing.

young woman with healthy long brown hair smiling

You may have to follow the above routine for about 2 weeks before seeing consistent results. When I tried using tea tree oil for dandruff, I find it left me with a ‘tingly-feeling’ in my scalp and the result was shiny, clean hair with less dandruff.

You can also try using specially formulated shampoos and conditioners that already contain the tea tree oils mixed into their formulas.

Many of these products are organic, sodium lauryl sulphate-free and don’t contain any harsh detergents that may cause scalp irritation.

If you have dandruff and itchy scalp problems that haven’t responded to traditional treatments, you could try using a natural product containing tea tree oils.

One of the benefits of using 100% organic hair products is they may reduce the risk for allergic reactions to some petrochemicals and solvents found in many hair care products.


Research References:

Treatment of dandruff with 5% tea tree oil shampoo. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2002 Dec;47(6):852-5


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Author Details
Author Details
Kevin is a full-time blogger with a passion for functional, whole food nutrition. A former Registered Respiratory Therapist with over 25 years experience in Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine, he also has additional training as a Certified Natural Products Advisor. He enjoys a vibrant lifestyle that includes healthy foods, workouts focusing on core strength with flexibility and longboarding to stay fit and agile.