Sometimes you might have an itchy scalp with some flakes. You might feel this is dandruff, but it’s not. It is simply a symptom of a dry scalp. Dandruff and dry scalp often seem the same thing, however, they are different.

Dandruff is often caused by the excess build-up of oil which leads the skin to shed, whereas dry scalp is caused by irritated skin which has flakes. Therefore, the difference between dandruff and dry scalp is often measured by the number of natural oils in the head.

Now, that we know the basic difference between dandruff and dry scalp, let us understand what are the causes and symptoms of each of them. Once you know them, it will help you to diagnose your hair problem and get medical attention as quickly as possible.

Difference Between Dandruff And Dry Scalp Based On Its Causes And Symptoms:

Dry scalp is often caused by little or no moisture which makes your skin too irritated that it starts flaking away. Dry scalp is extremely common in winter accompanied by dried arms and legs too. More often than not, this phenomenon can be caused due to cold air and old age.

Sometimes, it can be an allergic reaction caused by any hair product you apply such as shampoo, styling gel, and hairspray. This is also known as contact dermatitis. If you have a dry scalp, you will be experiencing the following symptoms:

  • Itchy scalp
  • Small and dry flakes
  • Dry skin on the other parts of the body too

What Are The Causes And Symptoms Of Dandruff?

If you have dandruff, your skin cells are multiplying on a faster scale and shedding more than normal on your scalp. One of the main causes of dandruff is seborrheic dermatitis, which turns the skin of the scalp oily and scaly. This condition can be found generally near the oil glands such as the sides of your nose, eyebrows, and armpits.

The Difference Between Dandruff And Dry Scalp
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Other causes of dandruff involve:

  • Age
  • Hormones
  • Stress

Sometimes, not washing your hair enough can also create the problem of dandruff as it can lead to excess oil build up on your hair. You can learn to differentiate between dandruff and flakes based on their appearance. Dandruff is more oily and bigger, whereas flakes are small and crusty.

How To Treat Dandruff And Dry Scalp?

  1. If you have a dry scalp, you can use a gentle shampoo along with a conditioner. To differentiate whether what you have is dandruff or dry scalp is to apply the moisturizer on your scalp before you sleep at night. Once you wake up in the morning, your flakes will disappear if you have a dry scalp.
dandruff and dry scalp

On the other hand, if you are suffering from dandruff, you can wash your hair every day with herbal shampoo or mild shampoo, which can help you to reduce the symptoms. You can also try a dandruff shampoo if you are having severe dandruff on your head.

Generally, a dandruff shampoo contains pyrithione zinc which is antifungal. It helps in killing the fungus on your head which causes flaking. This ingredient makes the dandruff shampoos extremely gentle to use.

  1. Apart from this, dandruff shampoos also contain selenium sulfide which prevents the skin cells to shed off. However, if you are using a shampoo containing selenium sulfide, you might want to consult your doctor as it can change your hair color.
  1. Ketoconazole is one of the most known ingredients and a shampoo that is known to deal with shampoo. Salicylic acid also helps in removing the extra scale from your head. However, sometimes salicylic acid is also known to cause more dryness in the skin and causes the skin to take more than before.
  1. There are other shampoos as well which contain tea tree oil. Tea tree oil is also a natural remedy with antifungal properties that are used to deal with dandruff. According to studies conducted by health experts, it was revealed that even 5 percent of tea tree oil can result in the reduction of dandruff.

However, it is best to consult your doctor before trying it as some people are allergic to it. Therefore, pour two or three drops of it on your skin and see if you experience any redness or swelling.

When you are using any dandruff shampoo, you need to follow the instructions properly and have patience. You might not experience any change within a day or two. You might have to give two or three weeks before you can see the difference.

Once you see the difference, you can reduce the number of days where you shampoo your hair. For instance, if you were washing it every alternate day, you can now wash it every two-three days.

How To Prevent Dandruff And Dry Scalp?

Once you are completely cured of dandruff and dry scalp, you might need to take care of your hair to prevent it in the future. Here are some tips for the same:

  • If you still have some mild dandruff, you can wash your hair with an anti-dandruff shampoo and continue to do the same even after you are cured of it. However, make sure you are rinsing it all off.
  • You can also avoid applying any hair products like bleach and alcohol which contain harmful chemicals. They can dry out your scalp more than before.
  • Wake up early in the morning and spend some time under sunlight to get vitamin D. It can help you control dandruff and even ameliorate the quality of your hair.
  • You also want to control the problem which can be easily aggravated by meditation, yoga, and other relaxation techniques.

When To See A Doctor?

There is no such thing as dandruff vs dry scalp and which one is the easier to treat. They both can be treated extremely easily. If you are suffering from dandruff, you can use some over-the-counter shampoos for a month or so.

However, when that does not work and your skin looks more damaged than healed, you can consult your dermatologist which can help you treat the problem or find any other skin condition if any. Your doctor will also help you diagnose conditions like eczema and psoriasis, if you have, which can cause similar problems and aggravate over time.

Now that you know what is the difference between dandruff and dry scalp, you can easily diagnose it and prevent it from occurring in the future.