Dandruff vs. Dry Scalp

Dandruff or a dry scalp? Is it different? We always have this question. How similar are they? When you look closely, you will find various characteristics in between them, which makes them apart.

Dandruff filled scalp

Let's discover what those characteristics are in this article. Dandruff causes visible flakes on hair or cloth. If the scalp does not hold enough moisture, then it causes a dry scalp. When it comes to Dandruff vs dry scalp, there are essential differences like Dandruff does not often cause irritation, while dry scalp can be diagnosed through a dry, itchy, flaky scalp.

Understanding the difference between Dandruff and Dry scalp is very important to choose the proper treatment.

Dry Scalp

Dry Scalp

A dry scalp occurs when the scalp does not have enough moisture or oil to lubricate. Same as other forms of dry skin, a dry scalp also causes itching, irritation and flaking sometimes. Moisture from the scalp helps to condition the hair. In the absence of moisture or oil, it causes hair to look dry. Skin conditions, such as eczema, dry air, winter months, and excessive hair wash causes dry scalp. 

Causes of Dry Scalp

excessive hair wash
  1. Excessive washing
  2. Irritation from hair products 
  3. Sunburn
  4. Climate ( winter, summer)
  5. Inability to produce moisture 
  6. Skin conditions, such as eczema

Trichologists certified that a dry scalp occurs the same way that dry skin does. Scalp gets dry once the scalp doesn't produce or retain enough moisture. When it comes to moisture, if you shampoo scalp too regularly, it may drain scalp moisture and lead to drying. Therefore, It is essential to use well-formed hair care products. In other cases, professors say that the seasonal and year-round climate like heat, cold, excessive sun and low levels of humidity exposure can lead to dry scalp.

Symptoms of Dry Scalp 

Extremely dry hair
  1. Itchy scalp/ scalp itches
  2. Dry hair
  3. Small, barley-flakes/ dead cells
  4. Flakes shedding from scalp 
  5. Smaller and whiter flakes
  6. Hair loss

Result of extreme Dryness, flakes can be seen on cloth, face and lead to hair loss.


Dandruff Scalp

What is dandruff, actually? Let's clear this question. According to doctors, dandruff is a chronic condition and is often considered a mild form of seborrheic dermatitis. Dandruff presents are noticeable as white flakes. Like the rest of the skin, dandruff sheds dead skin cells. Dandruff occurs when dead skin cells speed up. According to the American Dermatology researchers, they do not fully understand the causes of dandruff. Some of the causes of dandruff include:

Causes of Dandruff

Closer view of the Scalp
  1. Oils secreted by the scalp (oily scalps)
  2. Fungal infections of the scalp
  3. Overactive sebaceous glands
  4. Stress/ scalp issues
  5. Irritation from hair products 
  6. Poor personal hygiene 

Dandruff often occurs due to dirty scalp and poor personal hygiene. It may happen to anyone. Understandably, excess oil production and an overgrowth of fungus lead to Dandruff.

The scalp contains hair follicles with sebaceous glands that produce large amounts of sebum, which creates an environment for fungi to thrive. Fungi with excess oil stick together in clumps and turn into noticeable white flakes.

You are not alone in wondering how fungi could grow on and become a problem. Scalp fungus is totally normal, and the immune system controls it. Low vitamin D3 or ferritin causes a lower scalp immune state.

Symptoms of Dandruff 

Dandruff falling on shoulder
  1. Noticeable white flakes
  2. Itchy scalp/ itchy skin / irritated scalp/ scalp itching
  3. Potential redness
  4. Flakes are more prominent and maybe yellow-tinged
  5. Fungal infections 
  6. Stress

We Can easily find signs of dandruff when you see white flakes falling from your scalp to your shoulder, brush. And experts say that itchiness will likely be present. It can also be mental stress like relationship trouble, work stress, etc., and physical stress such as having a cold, illness, surgery ect.

Common Condition And Prevention

Tea tree oil

Dandruff and Dry scalp can be easily managed at home itself. There are good hair tips to maintain healthy hair. However, researchers do not fully understand the causes of dandruff. So it's still unclear if it can be prevented or not.

For dandruff, there are anti-dandruff shampoo, which contains Pyrithione and many other anti-dandruff shampoos and other hair care products. Some people prefer natural remedies like tea tree oil shampoo, which has antimicrobial properties.

If dandruff does not clear with home treatment, then recommended seeing a doctor identifying the cause, whether bacterial or Fungal infections, it can be helpful. 

Possibility To Prevent Dry Scalp

Girl washing Hair
  1. Using a moisturizer shampoo
  2. Less irritating shampoo/ mild shampoo
  3. Hair mask
  4. Keeping moisturized from the skin getting dry
  5. Drinking more water is very important 

Prevention From Dandruff

Exercise and Meditation
  1. Medicated shampoo: Use a medicated shampoo for dandruff at least two times a week. This dandruff shampoo contains ketoconazole, zinc pyrithione ect and Anti-fungal shampoo works to decrease oil and fungus. Some use coal tar shampoo for dandruff.
  2. Vitamin D supplements: The best way for preventing dandruff is to take vitamin D3 supplements. It slows down the rate of rapid skin cell growth.
  3. Tea tree oil: It is anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial. It helps with scalp rebalancing. Mix it with oil, hair mask, hair product and shampoo with tea tree oil.
  4. Omega 3: It regulates oil production, oily skin, and oily hair, reducing the amount of Fungal growth.
  5. Meditation/ exercise: Stress can trigger dandruff. Meditation and exercise calm down your stress.

Prevention For Dry Scalp

Applying oil to Hair
  1. Moisturizing/shampoo and conditioner: Gentle shampoo like aloe vera and oat milk is suitable for dry scalp. Keep always moisturized with good oil and use a good conditioner after shampooing. 
  2. Wash less often: If you wash or shampoo scalp regularly, its natural oil drains down.
  3. No direct sunlight/ cold weather: It will take away moisture and dry faster. So it's essential to cover the shin from direct sun and cold weather.
  4. Oil: Apply a good oil. Before the shower, using coconut oil helps to keep the scalp moisturized.

At the end of the day, dandruff and dry scalp have their own unique traits. Scalp health is very important for beautiful hair secrets. Treat your scalp like the rest of your skin with love.

If you tried everything and still find problems, visit a good dermatologist for scalp treatment and know better about scalp conditions.

Dandruff and dry scalp both are annoying, but it's not harmful. Home remedies usually help. To know your problem better, check with a dermatologist. 

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