Dandruff vs Dry Scalp – How to Identify and Treat

Do you have dandruff, or is your scalp just dry? Probably everyone has had that question from time to time. No matter the similarity between the two skin conditions, if you look real close, you will see they’ve got precise characteristics that cause them to be different from one another. We will tell you all you need to know regarding dry scalp and dandruff and what is different, and the best way to take care of your scalp.

Before doing a specific comparison of dandruff vs dry scalp, we will explain each so you can recognize them independently.

Signs and Causes of Dandruff

Firstly, we need to state what dandruff really is. It is a chronic ailment often thought to be a mild sort of seborrheic dermatitis, which comes and goes. When it shows up in its standard form, it looks like a white flaky substance.

So, once you’ve gotten familiar with what dandruff looks like and what it is, it’s time to talk about the signs and causes. Then you’ll be aware of what to do if you suffer from dandruff.

Dandruff is frequently linked to a dirty scalp and someone having bad personal hygiene, but actually, anyone can get it. Our scalps contain plenty of hair follicles, and they all have sebaceous glands that produce vast quantities of sebum, which is an oily product, and that creates the perfect place for fungus to live and grow.

When you combine the fungus with surplus oil, then all those dead skin cells on your head, which may usually fall off without notice, will stick themselves together and form clumps, which now show up as small, yet still perceptible white flakes.

If you are pondering how the fungus can grow on the skin of your scalp and turn into an issue, you wouldn’t be alone. It is pretty common, but our immune systems typically control it. So that makes it less likely you’ll get any dandruff, but of course, it is still possible.

If that fungus begins to cycle uncontrollably, which may occur if you have excess scalp oil, you’ll have extra fungus that grows. It remains trapped in scalp oil, which can prompt hypersensitivity, make it to itch, form more flakes, or sometimes bring on redness.

If that occurs, it’s no longer a mild kind of seborrheic dermatitis, and it may surge into a more severe form. But do not be concerned; this inflammatory disorder is prevalent and isn’t that hard to manage. We’ll show you some methods of treating it within this post.

Before getting into dandruff’s symptoms, you should watch out for a good idea to note that even though dandruff’s leading cause is the growth of fungus, it’s reported by the Mayo Clinic that another reason for scalp problems is stress! So that too can bring on a dandruff attack.

The most frequent dandruff hint happens when you begin to see those white flakes drifting down from the scalp to the shoulders as your hair gets combed or if you shake your head. Obviously, before the flakes showing up, the experts tell us your scalp will begin to itch first.

Causes and Signs of a Dry Scalp

So, right now, you know the main things that cause dandruff, so you may wonder if that’s what you had or if it were something else. That’s quite common since dandruff is often misinterpreted as describing a dry and itchy scalp when it means something further.

So, it is a good idea for you to understand what makes up a dry scalp. Then you can gauge the symptoms to decide what scalp problem you have before treating it.

Moisture is essential regarding your scalp, and if you shampoo your hair too often, it can mess up your scalp’s hydration. Additionally, the type of products you use on it can cause dryness. So it’s vital to use products on your hair that are well-formulated and created for hydrating hair so that the strands won’t be weighed down or stripped.

Other things that can cause your scalp to be dry are the type of climate you are in (i.e., low humidity or excessively hot and cold temperatures). Plus, too much exposure to the sun and if you inherit it from your parents. Dry skin and scalp are less common in humid places.

Even though flakes are not as likely to appear just because your scalp is dry, tiny flakes can form if your scalp is dehydrated. This also happens on the face when the weather is harsh and dry.

The Major Difference Between Dandruff vs Dry Scalp

So, now we’ve looked at both problems. It’s time to see the main things that are different about them. Both dandruff and a dry scalp will cause itching, and both may cause at least tiny flakes. But the other major thing is dandruff is a genuine medical issue.

Even though both these problems seem to appear and then go away from time to time, since dandruff is a medical issue it won’t stay gone if you don’t get proper treatment for it since a fungus causes dandruff. But if it’s just dry scalp, it might get better if you don’t wash your hair so often. Plus, you can have both conditions at the same time! This is why it’s so hard to know the difference between these two issues.

Prevention and Treatment Options

Depending on which skin condition you have, there is a scalp treatment which can help. Sometimes, treatments might just consists of using less harsh hair products (like switching shampoos or conditioners). It’s always good when simple treatments can end the dry flaky symptoms. But read below for all the treatments for these extremely common conditions.

Treating Dandruff

Utilize medicated anti dandruff shampoo devised expressly for either dandruff or seborrheic dermatitis two times a week. The primary ingredients to treat dandruff are ketoconazole, pyrithione zinc, salicylic acid, selenium sulfide, or zinc. They all work to lessen the oil on the scalp, and flakes. An Anti dandruff shampoo is designed to treat this skin condition quickly and usually has pyrithione zinc to help eliminate the dandruff flakes. Many of these OTC dandruff shampoos come in prescription strength.

Take some Vitamin D Supplements

If you take vitamin D3, it will help you keep from getting dandruff. That seems logical since the American Academy of Dermatology reports that vitamin D3 works to slow down rapid skin cell growth rate. This may be one of the factors if you have a severe case of either psoriasis or dandruff.

Stock Up On Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil has both anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory features, so it is a fantastic choice to balance your scalp condition. Luckily, nowadays, it’s combined into many kinds of hair treatment, shampoo, conditioner, and beauty masks.

Try Using Meditation (or Exercising or both!)

Really, though, excessive stress levels may bring on flaking and dandruff. Wow, didn’t think you needed another reason to zen, did you? Don’t forget: If you are calmer, you are less likely to suffer a flare-up of dandruff.

Treating a Dry Scalp

If you feel you gohave a dry scalp, plus you want some relief, then consider the following suggestions:

Try using some Pre-Shampoo Treatment for the Scalp: Whenever the scalp is dry, it requires all the assistance it can find to make yourself comfy again. A top method for achieving this is to begin your haircare practice with some hair care products devised precisely for your scalp’s comfort and health.

Utilize Moisturizing, Gentle Shampoos and Conditioners: Because dry scalp may be partly because of some irritation, if you swap a harsh shampoo and conditioner and instead use very gentle may pay big rewards. If you are trying to find a more gentle shampoo, stay away from essential oils and fragrances! Instead, consider soothing and hydrating elements such as oat milk or aloe vera.

Get Rid Of Products Containing Alcohol as the Leading Ingredient: Many hair care products have alcohol in them. If it is the primary ingredient, that’s a problem. So, if you are seriously hunting for the top products for your hair, ensure you don’t buy it if alcohol is listed in the first ten ingredients on the label. Harsh infredients can cause dryness of the skin on the scalp and simply eliminating the harsh ingredients can sometimes quickly restore moisture to the sensitive skin.

Wash Your Hair Less Frequently: Don’t forget, it’s possible to wash the scalp’s natural, hydrating oils right out if you wash your hair too often. So, it would help if you did so merely every other day. Plus, don’t use scalding water; it should be lukewarm. You may not think that’s an issue, but too hot water can dry out your scalp as well as your skin.

Get a Humidifier For Your House: Climate plays a significant factor in getting dry scalp. If you live in an area where it’s very dry, you should get yourself a humidifier to put more moisture into the air.


We hope that’s helped clear up the differences of dandruff vs dry scalp. People many times can’t tell dry scalp and dandruff apart. However, each has its own unique features. The top method of treating either of these is to make sure you take care of the scalp the way you do the other skin you have. Give it lots of tender loving care every day.

Sentiment notwithstanding, if you think you have tried it all and you still have symptoms that are getting worse, then you need to go see a dermatologist to find out what else you can do.