Rubbing Alcohol: The Ultimate Dandruff Killer? [2024 Fact Sheet]

Rubbing Alcohol: The Ultimate Dandruff Killer

You reach up to scratch that nagging itch on top of your head, and suddenly it seems like it’s snowing. As you run your hand through your hair, the flakes of dry skin seem to fly across your field of vision like a strong winter storm, landing on your black pants. 

Sound familiar? 

If so, then you probably have seborrheic dermatitis, or in layman’s terms- dandruff. The word dandruff has been around since the 1500s, so you are by no means the first person to suffer from this annoying (and often embarrassing) condition. 

So can rubbing alcohol can help cure your dandruff? By treating some of the root causes of dandruff, rubbing alcohol can cause a temporary reduction in the number of flakes produced by your scalp and may even cure it for good. Whether you have a plain old dry scalp or suffer from legitimate dandruff, rubbing alcohol can help both.

Rubbing Alcohol: The Ultimate Dandruff Killer?

I bet you weren’t expecting me to tell you that one of the most drying liquids known to man could cure your consistently dry skin, were you? That’s because many people don’t fully understand the root cause of their dandruff. Keep on reading to find out how to use this little-known remedy to your advantage.

How Rubbing Alcohol Can Treat Dandruff

Whether you have a plain old dry scalp or suffer from legitimate dandruff, rubbing alcohol can help both.

The first condition, dry scalp, is typically caused by an allergic reaction to a certain hair product, showering too much, or showering too little.

Squirting some rubbing alcohol on your hair in the shower can help rid your hair of these flakes and give you a clean slate. 

After you’re finished washing out the dry skin flakes with the alcohol, though, it’s crucial that you moisturize your hair! Failure to do so will cause you to have the same dry, flakey skin that caused the problem in the first place. 

True dandruff is caused by an actual medical condition- seborrheic dermatitis. This is usually the result of your scalp producing too much oil.

As your scalp produces excessive oil, your skin cells have to keep up, and they regenerate too quickly, constantly shedding their old layers and leaving them stuck in your hair like snowflakes. 

What makes the problem worse is that sometimes this problem is made worse by fungus.

It may sound disgusting, but all of that extra oil on your scalp combined with the warm environment is the perfect breeding ground for fungi. This, in turn, causes your skin to respond defensively by shedding. 

Fortunately, rubbing alcohol is able to treat both of these problems. If your dandruff is being caused by excessive oil production, alcohol can help by temporarily drying out your scalp.

The dryer that your scalp is, the less often it will shed. If you apply it enough, the problem may stop altogether. 

As for the second problem (fungus), alcohol shines in this area as well! 

If you didn’t already know, rubbing alcohol kills mold– one of the most popular fungi on the planet.

Since rubbing alcohol is mixed with a little bit of water, it’s able to penetrate the fungus cells and essentially kill them from the inside out.

It also dries up the scalp, making it impossible for fungus to survive in the first place! 

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How To Apply Rubbing Alcohol To Treat Dandruff

If you’re just interested in getting rid of dry skin flakes in your hair, just take a bottle of rubbing alcohol in the shower with you and squirt it in your hair, using one hand to run it through your scalp.

After a few seconds, place your head under room temperature water, and all of the old, dead flakes should start to wash out. 

If you’re suffering from clinical dandruff, on the other hand, you’ll need to take a slightly different approach.

Personally, I recommend soaking a washcloth in your alcohol solution until it’s nice and wet. 

Then, place it directly on your scalp and slowly compress it. This will release the alcohol from the cloth into your scalp and help your skin slowly absorb it. 

If your scalp is dry or itchy, the cooling alcohol will bring immediate relief. In addition to this, it will start to target any areas of fungal infection, killing it and gradually removing it.

For those who are suffering from a more severe condition, I recommend doing this several times a day as needed. 

What Concentration of Alcohol Should I Use For My Hair?

The concentration you use depends upon the severity of your condition. For light dandruff and dry scalp, I would say that a lower 50% concentration is best.

This is similar to the alcohol content in hand sanitizer; it’s just enough to get rid of flakes and bacteria without over-drying your scalp. 

If you have severe dandruff and flakey skin, then you’ll likely benefit the most from using a 70% solution.

The added strength will be able to remove oil more effectively and will also be able to target fungus, ensuring that it’s properly treated and removed. 

The only other commonly-available option is 90% isopropyl alcohol. While one could easily be fooled into thinking this is the best option, it’s actually not the best rubbing alcohol dandruff treatment. 

The stronger solution is more likely to evaporate before it has a chance to do any good and may dry your skin out too much, worsening your condition. 

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How Often Should I Apply Rubbing Alcohol To My Scalp?

For severe dandruff, you should apply Rubbing Alcohol a couple of times per day. I usually recommend it once in the morning and once in the afternoon.

It’s also not a bad idea to keep a small spray bottle of alcohol and a clean towelette with you in case you run into any problems during your workday. 

In Summary

If you’re just combatting dry scalp or minor dandruff, I would recommend using alcohol on your hair once every other day. You don’t want to expose your scalp to too much-rubbing alcohol unless it’s absolutely necessary. 

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